Home / Tech News / How the 22-year-old founders of Brex built a billion-dollar business in less than 2 years

How the 22-year-old founders of Brex built a billion-dollar business in less than 2 years


When Brazilian-born Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi met at 16 years outdated, they bonded over a love of coding and mutual frustrations with their strict moms, who didn’t perceive their Mark Zuckerberg-esque ambitions. 

To be truthful, their mothers’ worry of their hacking habits solely escalated after their pre-teen sons acquired authorized notices of patent infringements within the mail. A authorized risk from Apple, which Franceschi acquired after discovering the primary jailbreak to the iPhone, is sufficient to warrant a grounding, on the very least.

Their mother and father implored them to give up the hacking and cease messing round on-line.

They didn’t hear.

At the moment, the now 22-year-olds are asserting a $125 million Collection C for his or her second profitable funds enterprise, known as Brex, at a $1.1 billion valuation. Greenoaks Capital, DST World and IVP led the spherical, which brings their complete raised so far to about $200 million.

San Francisco-based Brex gives startup founders entry to company bank cards and not using a private assure or deposit. It’s additionally supported by the likes of PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, the previous chief govt officer of Visa Carl Pascarella and a handful of main enterprise capital corporations. 

Brex is off to probably the most thrilling begins we’ve ever seen,” IVP’s Somesh Sprint mentioned in an announcement.

The financing makes them among the youngest unicorn founders in historical past and places them in a uncommon class of startups which have galloped into unicorn territory at such a quick clip. Brex was based within the winter of 2017. It solely launched publicly in June 2018.

How’d they do it?

“I’ve had two failed makes an attempt, one profitable try and one on the best way to being a profitable try,” Brex CEO Dubugras advised TechCrunch whereas reciting a prolonged resume.

At 14, when most of us had been worrying about what the primary 12 months of highschool would carry us, Dubugras was extra involved about what his subsequent enterprise try could be. He had already constructed a profitable on-line sport however was pressured to close it down after receiving these patent infringement notices.

Naturally, he used the money he earned from the sport to start out an organization — an training startup meant to assist Brazilian college students apply to American colleges. He himself hoped to get into Stanford and had realized rapidly how little Brazilian college students understood of the U.S. school software course of.

In some respects, the corporate was successful. It garnered 800,000 customers however did not make any cash. His small fortune wasn’t sufficient to scale the enterprise.

“There aren’t a whole lot of VCs in Brazil which might be keen to fund 15-year-olds,” Dubugras advised TechCrunch.

Shortly after folding the edtech, he met Franceschi, a Brazilian teen from Rio — Dubugras is from São Paulo — who understood his urge for food for innovation and was simply as hungry for achievement. The pair obtained to speaking and due to Franceschi’s curiosity in funds, they began Pagar.me, the “Stripe of Brazil.”

Pagar.me raised $30 million, amassed a employees of 100 and was processing as much as $1.5 billion in transactions when it bought. Lastly, that they had an actual success beneath their belt. Now it was time to relocate. 

“We wished to return to Silicon Valley to construct stuff as a result of all the things right here appeared so huge and so cool,” Dubugras mentioned.

And are available to Silicon Valley they did. Within the fall of 2016, the pair enrolled at Stanford. Shortly after that, they entered Y Combinator with huge goals for a digital actuality startup known as Past. 

“I believe three weeks in we gave it up,” Dubugras mentioned. “We realized we aren’t the precise founders to start out this enterprise.”

He credit Y Combinator with serving to him notice what they had been good at — funds.

As founders themselves, Dubugras and Franceschi had been hyper-aware of an enormous drawback entrepreneurs face: entry to credit score. Large banks see small companies as a danger they aren’t keen to take, so founders are sometimes left at a dead-end. Dubugras and Franceschi not solely had an enormous community of startup entrepreneurs of their Rolodex, however that they had the fintech acumen obligatory to construct a bank card enterprise designed particularly for founders.

So, they scrapped Past and in April 2017, Brex was born. The startup picked up momentum rapidly, a lot in order that the pair determined to drop out of Stanford and pursue the enterprise full time.

Simplifying monetary entry

Brex doesn’t require any sort of private assure or safety deposit and it doesn’t use third-party legacy expertise; its software program platform is constructed from scratch.

It simplifies a whole lot of the irritating elements of company bills by offering corporations with a consolidated take a look at their spending. On the finish of every month, for instance, a CEO can simply see how a lot all the firm spent on Uber or Amazon. 

Plus, Brex can provide entrepreneurs a credit score restrict that’s as a lot as 10 instances increased than what they’d obtain elsewhere they usually can subject playing cards, digital playing cards a minimum of, moments after the net software is full.

“Now we have a really related impact of what Stripe had at first, however a lot quicker as a result of Silicon Valley corporations are superb at spending cash however earning money is tougher,” Dubugras defined.

As a part of their funding announcement, Brex mentioned it can launch a rewards program constructed with the wants and spending patterns of founders in thoughts. Past that, they plan to make use of the capital to rent engineers and determine the right way to develop the enterprise’s shopper base past solely tech startups.

“We need to dominate company bank cards,” Dubugras mentioned. “We wish each single firm on this planet, at any time when they do companies bills, to do it on a Brex card.”



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