Half of all startups end in failure, so not many people want to lend to them. But where traditional banks see risk, Brex cofounder and co-CEO Henrique Dubugras sees opportunity. Two years ago, the Brazilian-born entrepreneur launched a corporate credit card designed for young, growing companies. Thanks to tech integrations into an applicant’s banking and sales-tracking software, the company is able to approve applications in minutes and monitors customer business metrics in real time, allowing startups’ credit limits to go up (or down) with sales. Last year, Brex launched two new cards: one that alleviates the chronic cash-flow challenges facing e-commerce startups by offering a 60-day float period with 0% APR and no foreign transaction fees; another offering life sciences companies cash-back rewards for spending on lab supplies. Neither card requires personal guarantees from founders. Anticipating high failure rates, Dubugras says, “actually allows us to be a lot more efficient” by incorporating systems such as real-time revenue monitoring. Brex’s customers include Airbnb, Outdoor Voices, and SoFi.
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A version of this article appeared in the March/April 2020 issue of Fast Company magazine.