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

  1. 9

    Curious how much help they got from the bank on mom and dad. It's hard to imagine that anyone at that age was able to get there without a tremendous amount of privilege. That's not to say they didn't put in a ton of hard work. I just can't help but think of how many other 20-something founders would be out there if they had a better or easier starting spot.

    1. 29

      the thing i dislike about comments like this is that some people use it as an excuse to not try to do the same things. it's like, just do it. maybe they had tons of more privilege, maybe they didn't. but you only have one life - so go do what you want to do, however you see fit.

    2. 3

      They actually sold a previous startup they started during high school for >$50M

    3. 2

      I remember when they first posted on HN four years ago. They mentioned that at sixteen they raised $300k from, "an investor that was willing to take a chance on us." Interesting that they never say more than that and I haven't seen mention of that investor in other articles about them. It sounds like receiving this kind of investment in Brazil is rare. One of them remarked, "We knew that $300K was all we were getting, so we had to find a business that could be cash flow positive quickly." And from there, they were able to make several good choices that led them to some big bucks.

    4. 1

      Although the comment isn't very constructive it is true that most of the time relationships are the most important aspect of any business. No matter where someone comes from, nothing is built without meaningful relationships and engagement.

  2. 5

    One of the coolest founder stories I've read. Although I recently read an article (also on TechCrunch) about how they've decided to stop serving SMB/SME customers - which, really surprised me since it seems to be the customer base that their business is primarily aimed at. You can read it here: https://techcrunch.com/2022/06/17/as-brex-exits-the-smb-space-its-ceo-says-that-doesnt-include-startups-at-least-the-funded-ones/?cx_testId=6&cx_testVariant=cx_undefined&cx_artPos=0#cxrecs_s

    1. 2

      Oh wow, thanks for sharing. Agreed, I think it's odd. Duburas says they're still committed to startups just not startups who don't already benefit from funding (i.e. bootstrapped startups). One of the major selling points of BREX was that founders could benefit from credit limits as much as 10 times higher than what they'd receive elsewhere - surely the founders who could benefit from this the most are bootstrapped startups.

      1. 1

        I see how it seems counter-intuitive. But I don't necessarily think a business' customer base has to remain the same as the company grows. There has to be a rational reason for this move - if the business can make more profit by serving a different customer base, then it shouldn't stick to serving bootstrapped startups for the sake of loyalty - it has to make business sense.

        1. 1

          That's called 'selling out'

  3. 2

    Parents always do that. They try to pursue us on safe path while they ignore our passion.

  4. 2

    Competition is useful when it is constructive and is an incentive to do better. But it is useless if it becomes a competition to gain the most, in the shortest time and with the least effort.

  5. 2

    Curious people, everyone can be anyone. Just gotta try hard, and give it your all.

  6. 2

    Pretty incredible! They've got to be among the youngest Unicron builders out there. Anyone know of anyone younger?

    I know Bolt CEO Markus Villig is among the youngest billionaires.

    Regardless, I'm curious how "in-touch" with reality these folks are. I can't imagine going from nothing to a billionarie seemingly overnight. It's like child actors that hit it big. Will they forever be shaped and warped by an experience with stardom?

    Or will they take steps to ensure that they're grounded and keep perspective on what's important: family, friends, health, etc. Money can make people do crazy things.

    1. 2

      Most people underestimate the role of luck..

      1. 1

        I agree with this. Sometimes we have to believe in the "It just works" theory.

      2. 1

        Very true. And those who take luck into account tend to sprint to put as many products out there as possible.

  7. 1

    Cool story!

  8. 1

    I'm curious why you submitted a story from 2018, but not the recent turmoil they went through. They changed the model quite a bit.


    Basically they decided to cater to only startups with VC funding.

  9. 1

    I mean it's not 2 years. This is the 8th year they had been building and experimenting. What's that saying - an overnight success is 6 years of non-stop work in the making?

  10. 1

    wow, that's just amazing

  11. 1

    That's hella awesome!

  12. 1

    Amazing success. Using their services for almost 1 year and I am quite happy about it. As a non-us citizen founder, great to have a credit facility based on your revenue.

  13. 1

    Brex grew when fintech started offering the services and the some banks supported them. The financial crisis and new bank laws enabled this. Then it took maybe 10 years for the PaaS systems to emerge. Any app can now do what Brex does, inside your app. Soon this will be a commodity business. Ramp, Divvy, Mercury bank and others are racing to see who can emerge the leader. https://synapsefi.com/

  14. 1

    So, they scrapped Beyond and in April 2017, Brex was born. The startup picked up momentum quickly, so much so that the pair decided to drop out of Stanford and pursue the business full time.

    I appreciate that this article shared their failures... but how did they actually do it? This paragraph obviously skips a LOT of steps.

    Did a little snooping and here's an interview with more details.

  15. 1

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