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These 22-Year-Olds Built A $2B+ Business In 2 Years

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It all started with a legal threat from Apple from jailbreaking a phone. It ended with a $2.6B business, built in two years by two Brazilian college dropouts.

A little over a year ago, Pedro Franceschi and Henrique Dubugras, then 22, announced a $125M Series C for Brex, a payment business, securing them a $1.1B valuation.

Then just last summer, the pair raised an additional $100M, bringing the valuation to $2.6B.

“Brex is … one of the most exciting starts we’ve ever seen,” venture capitalist and investor Somesh Dash said in a statement.

This feat made the duo the youngest unicorn founders in history, as well as one of the fastest-growing companies in history. Brex was founded in the winter of 2017. And it only launched publicly in June 2018.

How did that happen?!

Unsurprisingly, both Brazilian-born young men grew up coding and it has fueled their success.

Pedro became the first person to jailbreak the iPhone 3G and later helped bring Siri—Apple’s voice assistance—into the Portuguese language. 

At 14, he had already built a successful online game but was forced to shut it down once Apple came knocking with threatening legal letters.

“I’ve had two failed attempts, one successful attempt and one on the way to being a successful attempt,” CEO Henrique Dubugras told TechCrunch in an interview.

While Pedro was getting sued by Apple before hitting puberty, Henrique was programming video games and coding at 12 and later went on to meet Henrique on Twitter. 

Then what?

When both were 16, they founded Pagar.me, which was the first developer-friendly payments processor to be introduced to Brazil. 

They went on to raise $30M and grew a team of over 100 people before selling the company. They then enrolled in Stanford University, spending just eight months there. 

“We wanted to come to Silicon Valley to build stuff because everything here seemed so big and so cool,” Dubugras said.

Before leaving, the co-founders were under the impression the payment problems they had addressed for Brazil didn’t exist in the US. So they aimed to start a virtual reality startup instead called Beyond, later entering YCombinator.

“I think three weeks in we gave it up,” Dubugras said. “We realized we aren’t the right founders to start this business.”

Instead, the duo decided to do what they were good at—payments. So, they pivoted and used their experience to form Brex, a company that issues corporate cards for startups in the tech space.

YC gave them a $120K seed investment to back their vision, and they went on to collaborate with  Peter Thiel and Max Levchin, PayPal’s co-founders, and two giants in the payment space.

So what does Brex do exactly?

In a nutshell, Brex is a system for founders. One, it provides businesses a consolidated look at their spending. At the end of each month, for example, a CEO can easily see how much the entire company spent on Uber.

In addition, Brex can give entrepreneurs a credit limit up to 10 times what they’d receive through traditional channels. Brex also issues virtual credit cards moments after completing an online application.

“We have a very similar effect of what Stripe had in the beginning, but much faster because Silicon Valley companies are very good at spending money but making money is harder,” Dubugras explained.

The idea has proven beyond viable, with the company increasing its monthly revenue sixfold in the short time between October 2018 and June 2019, and they show no signs of slowing down. 

So what’s next?

According to the founders, Brex will launch a rewards program built with the needs and spending patterns of founders in mind. Next, the goal is to figure out how to grow the business’s client base beyond only tech startups.

“We want to dominate corporate credit cards,” Dubugras said. “We want every single company in the world, whenever they do businesses expenses, to do it on a Brex card.”

 

Featured Image Credit: Brex

Entrepreneurs

This Entrepreneur Grew His Instagram Channel From 50K To 1M Followers In 1 Year. Here’s How He Did It

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You have a popular channel with tremendous growth and engagement. What made you start your channel and how did you grow it?

What started out as an Instagram page for my own personal growth, where I share my favorite inspirational quotes on business and entrepreneurship, and life, in general, really.

Where does that entrepreneurial itch come from?

I’ve always knew that a corporate 9 to 5 is not my thing. Started my first little business when I was nine, I was quite an entrepreneurial kid.
Besides unlimited income potential, I love the freedom of being my own boss… I get to work where I want, whenever I want, without anyone telling me what to do or when I can take days off.

There’s nothing like it.

To me, this kind of freedom is priceless.

What triggered it for you?
I fell in love with personal development in my teenage years, and happened to read a couple self-help books from Dale Carnegie, Napoleon Hill, Tony Robbins, Robert Kiyosaki, etc. They completely changed my life.

I think that’s a common thing in hustlers. You just broke down the holy grail right there.

If you have read any book from the authors I’ve just mentioned, you will realize a common theme that MINDSET is everything. It is literally the foundation to success, not how much resources you have or who you know.

I truly believe the life you’ve always wanted begins with your mindset. Despite having a university degree in Entrepreneurship & Marketing, I am now making a living with my online businesses, and also dabbling in investing.

What’s your goal with your page?

Although I don’t consider myself as being successful or an expert yet to tell people how or what to think, but my goal with this page is to hopefully inspire and influence people’s mindset in a positive way. In turn, helping them achieve whatever goals they have in life.

You have over 1M followers. People are loving your content. And everyone wants to know: How?! How do you grow an account like this?

I am proud to say that I’ve never used any shady tactics or bots to grow my IG account. Everything is 100% organic growth. Like any social platform, you must understand the platform algorithm and work with it. That’s my biggest secret…

Besides that, you also need high quality content that people want to see.

In part II of this article, Dave breaks down exactly HOW he selects his content and the secret sauce behind the engagement.

 

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Last Openstage: 3 Brilliant Gems From Investor/CEO David Meltzer

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In case you missed it, last openstage featured an all-star crew of entertainers, DJs, and—of course—a super entrepreneur on the stage.

Just a quick 411 on what openstage is…

So once a month, WealthLAB hosts an exclusive, limited-capacity event in Brooklyn, NY with a rockstar entrepreneur on stage, basically breaking down their secrets to success. 

(Then there’s standup comedy, DJs, SICK cocktails and networking, but that’s another story for another time…)

 

This time, we had none other than legit rockstar entrepreneur, social media star and investor David Meltzer [instagram.com/davidmeltzer] on the stage, interviewed by WealthLAB founder Philip Michael.

 

David’s a Top 100 business coach, one of the most sought-after public speakers and host of Entrepreneur Magazine’s super podcast “The Playbook.”
(You may have seen him on Gary Vee’s stuff as well. That’s the guy he built his following with.)

And of course the talk was EPIC. Here are three brilliant gems dropped by David on stage. 

1) Say thank you every day 

One thing most people don’t do is appreciate the things around them. Of course, the vibration of gratitude triggers attraction, a 0.1-second strategy David said you can implement immediately. 

“It took me nine months to do,” he said. “But now that I do it, things that I want in life come to me faster, I’m happier and my life is abundant.”

The strategy? Simply say “thank you” before you go to sleep every night for 20 days. 

“It will change your life,” he said. 

2) What your parents need from you

“Your parents only want to know a few things,” David said during the talk, after which many became emotional. One, that you’re healthy. That you’re happy. That you love them.

“That’s all they want to know,” he says. “So take a minute to text them or call them and tell them you’re happy, healthy and that you love them.”

3) Building a following: why followers don’t matter

Of course, David’s managed to build one of the fastest-growing channels on social media, propelling to nearly 300K Instagram followers, seemingly overnight. 

“I didn’t know what DM’ing meant,” he said, bringing laughs from the crowd. “I thought it was saying your initials to indicate a message.”

When asked by Philip on how to build a following, his message was clear. Number one, know Gary Vee. “I was consulting for their sports agency. He became my mentor on social media,” he says.

Now, if you don’t know Gary Vee, you still have access to people who can help. “Never be afraid to ask. People would love to help,” he said.
More importantly, don’t worry about the followers. Just worry about building ambassadors. “Selena Gomez has 166M followers but can’t sell out a movie,” David said. “So what does that tell you?”

Instead, playing the long game, impacting two people who then impact two and before you know it, your reach compounds. Naturally. 

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Entrepreneurs

(WTF?!) Top 10 Highest Paid Instagram Celebrities

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No need to say that much. The picture speaks for itself. Check out, courtesy of BleacherReport.com’s Instagram account.
Ronaldo

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