Miguel Armaza sits down with Henrique Dubugras, Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Brex, a financial operating system for startups and growing companies, with services including a corporate card, cash management, and controls in a single account.
Originally from Brazil, Henrique built Pagar.me, a payments company, when he was only sixteen and in just three years grew it to process over $1.5 billion in processed transactions. Shortly thereafter, he co-founded Brex along with Pedro Franceschi.
In this interview, we talk about
- How he met his co-founder, Pedro, and their inspiration to launch Brex
“On my last year of high school, I met my co-founder Pedro over Twitter, and we decided to start our first business that actually worked, in Brazil, called Pagar.me, which was like Stripe in Brazil. So online payment processing in Brazil. And then from that point on, we ran that company for three and a half years, grew it to 150 employees, pretty profitable, and then sold it to a larger merchant acquirer called Stone.”
- Henrique’s story from entrepreneur, to Stanford student, to Stanford dropout and Brex co-founder
“Since our first business, Pagar.me, we kind of always wanted to help businesses grow. And we saw in Brazil that a lot of businesses had a lot of trouble accepting payments and getting into the online economy. And at the same time, when reconciling they lost a lot of time and sales. So we always kind of had this affinity to help merchants and then when we got to Brex we kind of wanted to keep working on that mission. At Brex we say that our mission is to reinvent financial systems so every growing company can realize its full potential. And what that means for us is basically doing everything we can to build the best product to help companies succeed.”
- Their significant decision to move Brex into a remote-first company and what that means for them
“We’re just going to assume that everyone at Brex is not in an office and all of our communication processes are going to be built for that (…) and assume everyone is seeing from their own computer. And it was a really tough decision, right? Because even though a few companies like Square, Twitter, and Shopify had announced they were going to do that, it’s still quite risky and no huge companies were built entirely remote in the past, and maybe that’s changing for the future. But it’s still TBD. And then there’s a lot of things that haven’t adapted and a lot of ways people interact and create a sense of belonging that are not remote. And we’ve made a bet that all those things will improve and we will find ways of solving all the issues remotely, and that the pros will outweigh the cons. And the biggest pro is basically access to global talent.”
- The importance of company culture and some key lessons for fintech founders
“People say the first 10 hires are gonna multiply for the next 10 people and set the culture of the company. I would amend that statement and say it’s probably your first 10 leadership hires (…) And those leaders, they create the processes, the culture, and structure that years later, should they ever leave, it stays. So it’s incredibly important.”
Henrique Dubugras is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of Brex — the smartest corporate card in the room. A Brazilian entrepreneur, Henrique built payments company Pagar.me — the Stripe of Brazil — when he was sixteen years old. In just three years, Pagar.me grew to US$1.5 billion in volume of transactions processed. In the fall of 2016, Henrique sold Pagar.me and enrolled at Stanford University. After eight months, he left school and founded Brex.
Brex is reimagining financial systems so every growing company can realize its full potential. By rebuilding from scratch the entire technology stack for credit card issuing, storing and transferring money, Brex has designed financial software that avoids previously painful banking problems. Traditional banking systems are broken; previously neither founders nor their businesses had access to great financial perks and benefits that their corporate counterparts enjoyed. Brex created products for fast moving companies that are intuitive, well designed, and have more powerful functionality than anything on the market. At its core, Brex exists to empower every growing company to dream bigger.
In June 2018 Brex launched the first corporate card and rewards program designed for Startups. Brex reimagined every aspect of corporate cards, including 10–20x higher limits than traditional cards, tailored rewards with points on every purchase, and no personal guarantee for founders. This is a radically better experience for customers. In Fall 2019, Brex introduced its second product, Brex Cash. A first-of-its-kind cash management account that enables companies to simplify financial operations, pay for expenses and grow their business, all with zero fees. As a unified platform, Brex brings together the ability to store money and pay bills in a single, elegant dashboard replete with integrations to other financial software — a new vision for the autonomous finance function.
Having started as part of the Y Combinator accelerator program in 2017, the team has grown to over 400 people. Based in San Francisco, Brex has raised over US$465 million in venture capital, with support from Kleiner Perkins Growth, YC Continuity Fund, Greenoaks Capital, Ribbit Capital, IVP, DST, as well as fintech insiders like Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. Brex has also raised over $510 million in debt funding from Barclays. As of writing it is worth $3 billion.
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