May 31, 2021

#34 - Dreaming big and achieving big: Henrique Dubugras, Brex

Listen On

Henrique Dubugras taught himself how to code as a teenager. He met his co-founder, Pedro Franceschi, over an argument on Twitter, which ended up turning them into best friends. The Brazilian tech duo went on to join teams at different startups and even start a few business projects. In 2013, they founded payments company Pagar.me — the Stripe of Brazil — when he was only sixteen years old.

Pagar.me was sold in 2016, and Henrique enrolled at Stanford University. But he left after just a few months to follow his entrepreneurial instincts. In YC, he and Pedro started Brex, a B2B fintech that is an all-in-one finance for business, disrupting the century-old industry of banking small companies.

Brex became a unicorn in record time. One year after its first product was released, it was valued at US$2.6Bn. Today, it's worth US$7Bn.

In this episode, learn more about:

  • Henrique's thoughts on fundraising and super-high valuations
  • How Henrique and Pedro make it work as co-CEOs
  • And what is harder and easier about founding a company in the US vs in Brazil


Brian Requarth

Henrique, thanks for coming on. Framing the conversation, I guess we met the year... I don't know what it was… Several years ago and you actually came to my office, I don't know if you remember that.

Henrique Dubugras

I do, yeah!

Brian Requarth

We were in Vila Madalena so it was probably...

Henrique Dubugras


Brian Requarth

Yeah, 2015 probably, I'd say. 2014, 2015 ish. We met there. I think at the time you were at Pagar.me.

You founded that company... How old were you when you started Pagar.me? It was a while ago and you're still not that old.

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, I was, I think, 16 when I started. 16, turning 17. So maybe when I saw you, I was probably 18.

Brian Requarth

All right. So when and how did you start coding and thinking about building businesses?

Henrique Dubugras

My story started when I was around 12, because there was this game I wanted to play and it was a paid game and my parents didn't want to pay it for me.

So I figured if I could learn how to code I could play it for free. So that's kind of how I started out. And then I built a pirate version of this game that got incredibly popular in Brazil until a few months later, when I got these legal notification saying I was breaking some sort of patents. So I didn't really know what patents were, but my mom got super upset and told me to shut everything off.

So that's how I started the whole thing. And then after I started… You know, I had to learn how to code to do that. And so after I stopped, I didn't really know what to do with my life — I was having this kind of 14 year old crisis. And I found this TV show called Chuck — it was like a really good computer hacker and programmer. And Chuck was a spy that saved the world with code and he went to Stanford. So I got obsessed with Chuck and then I got obsessed with getting into Stanford to be like Chuck, he was like my role model at that point. But I didn't really know how to get into Stanford. So I looked at the website and the signing things.

I found this guy on Facebook, Gabriel, who was starting a ticketing company, Ingresse. We did this deal in which I would code for him for free in exchange he would teach me the Stanford application process. He was one of the first engineers there.

And that's how I got into startups. Because I worked for him. And he taught me the whole application process for Stanford and I saw him raising money, building a product and I thought that was super cool, so that’s how I started out.

Brian Requarth

This first game that you mentioned, was it Ragnarok?

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, have you ever played it?

Brian Requarth

No, I haven't. But I caught up with your brother. I was playing some tennis with them yesterday and I like to do the kind of Howard Stern background research here. He told me you guys have recently got back into the game. Is that right?

Henrique Dubugras

Fully back in that. We got a garage and we put a bunch of computers, so we have a lan house. I recently invited all of our friends and we all got back into it.

Brian Requarth

That's amazing, man! You’re kind of reliving the old days of how it all got started, right? There's some nostalgia, right? Around those days, when you're...

Henrique Dubugras:

Exactly, 100%. You know, the thing is: it's like a complex game and it’s so hard to learn a new complex game, and I have so much knowledge about that game already. That's just easier to just jump back in.

Brian Requarth

That's amazing. That's amazing. I mean, it's great to have these origin stories too, of how you get to things. And then, you were going to Stanford and, I remember the second time we met, I think you were at Stanford.

I don't know if you remember the second time we met, in San Francisco. We had dinner with a bunch of other Brazilian founders. Do you recall that? It was at Kevin Hart's house?

Henrique Dubugras

Yes! Yeah, I remember that.

Brian Requarth

There was a group of other entrepreneurs and at the time you were in Stanford, I don't think you had started BREX yet. I don't know if you were still in Pagar.me or if you were still studying.

Henrique Dubugras

I think I had just started BREX, but it wasn't public knowledge yet.

Brian Requarth

Yeah. I didn't suss that out too. I wasn't an investor at that time, so if I knew…

So let's talk a little bit about that kind of transition from coding and having that passion and interest for the topic gaming, which is how it starts for a lot of engineers.

And then how did that evolve to FinTech? How do you go from that and then all of a sudden you're like in this FinTech world.

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, you know, It's lucky. So after I left Ingresse, I tried to start my own company, which didn't really work out, in education. And then I went to do this hackathon in Miami, trying to build a dating app there. I won the hackathon, but the dating app didn't work as a business.

And then I met my co-founder, Pedro, at that time. And we had a similar background. Pedro started coding when he was young, but much cooler than me. When he was 12, he found the first jailbreak for the iPhone 3g in the world. And because of that, he was hired by Brazil's largest payments company to basically work there as a security iOS engineer, because no one in Brazil understands iOS security.

So he got into payments because he worked there. And then we met in the year of 2012 over Twitter, basically fighting text editors. I used one called Vim. He used one called Emacs. They were text editors that we used to write code. It got too complicated to fight over 140 characters, so we went on Skype. And on Skype we became best friends and decided we wanted to start a company together.

And I have had bad experiences implementing payment systems. I implemented PagSeguro for my dating app and it really was a bad experience. And then Pedro was working in a payments company. So we're like “Hey, why don't we work on something better?”. And that's how we got into payments. It was kind of random, I wouldn't say… That's definitely a part of the story that's very lucky. This industry that we got in turned out to be a great industry to be in over the last 10 years, but it wasn't super thought out. There was a little bit of luck.

Brian Requarth

That's awesome. And then let's talk about the role that YC played in developing the concept of BREX. I think the YC has done an amazing job at finding your super strong founders and then supporting them and developing them and helping them raise capital etc.

How would you describe the role that YC played in developing the concept of BREX?

Henrique Dubugras

Definitely, it helped a lot. So when we got to the US, we were like “Hey, we don't want to do FinTech again. It's so complicated, there are all these banks. We're in Silicon Valley now. We want to do something that's bleeding-edge technology."

So we tried to start a VR company. And we got into YC with this VR company. Then, within YC, we're like “okay, we have no idea what we're doing”. So we decided to pivot and we didn't really know what to pivot to, but we realized that we loved fintech. And I think that YC really helped us find the idea of BREX and kind of coach us that we should do FinTech again, because it's actually what we really know and what we really like, and we shouldn't just do something that seems cool, so...

Brian Requarth

It helped that Pedro had that background as well, too, I'm sure, in payments.

Henrique Dubugras

For sure!

Brian Requarth

You mentioned that finding the product-market fit was relatively easy and the hard part was building everything you wanted. What was hard about that?

Henrique Dubugras

Basically, the reason that most, I would say, credit cards or banking products are not great is because people rely on these legacy systems. So they rely on these, like.. these very old systems that banks purchase. They were built like 30 years ago, when there was no mobile, there was no cloud, or there weren't any of these technologies that we have today. So we basically rebuilt everything from scratch without relying on these systems. And that was really hard because no one had done that for a long time.

Brian Requarth

Yeah. And if you weren't building this, what would you build if it wasn't BREX? In the menu of the world of opportunities, what would be the thing that you'd want to focus on if it wasn't this?

Henrique Dubugras

We'd definitely focus on something in FinTech, you know? I don't know exactly what but I think insurance was super interesting to us as well. We didn't know as much about insurance, but I would probably look into something there.

Brian Requarth

It's funny because a lot of people sometimes don't understand how BREX can work. Can you explain, in simple terms, how does BREX builds a profitable business long-term, and — you've obviously raised a fair amount of capital, you just raised a round recently — what does the long-term vision look like and how are you planning to get there?

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, the vision for BREX is we want to be all-in-one finance for businesses. So we want to be the one-stop-shop that a business comes to manage all their finances. And, for us, that integration between financial services to traditional bank products, such as credit cards and bank accounts, expense management, reimbursements, and bill pay. So integrating all in one place in which businesses can manage a hundred percent of finances.

So that's the vision that we're executing towards. We started off with the corporate card products for startups. And I think at that point the criticism was “how many startups are there” and “is this really a big market” or “how can it be valued so much?”. But I think that we always had a much larger vision.

We always knew that credit card for startups was just the beginning. Now we're all-in-one finance. We have corporate cards, we have cash management accounts, we have expense management and we have bill pay in one single place for any business in the US. So, obviously, now it’s much larger than people initially thought.

Brian Requarth

How do you think about… I mean, the US market is so enormous, right? There's not really a need to expand because your TAM is huge. How do you think about it? I know a lot of companies outside of the US would love to have the simplicity of the product offering you have. How do you think about geographic expansion and what does that look like?

Henrique Dubugras

The type of geographic expansion we are interested in is helping our US companies go abroad. If you're building a company in the US and you're expanding globally, it's super interesting for you to have one single system in which you manage all your global places, right? And that's really hard to do. And I think that's the type of international experience we're interested in.

And we think it is really hard for us to compete with and to adapt our systems with every local bank or every local market to win against the local competitors. There are BREX competitors in almost every country at this point. So it would be really hard to compete with those local guys. So we're more focused on winning the global players internationally.

Brian Requarth

The company skyrocketed the growth and you became a unicorn in a shorter amount of time and then announced your last raise, which was at a $7 billion valuation. Clearly the market is big enough to support, look at the banking world.

Talk about the fundraising process. When you decide to go after it, how many people do you talk to? How do you build interest? Walk us through that process of what that looks like.

Henrique Dubugras

I think that fundraising is about clarity. So when he says “I'm really good at fundraising”, I think the way I interpreted it for myself was just: “I'm really good at clarity, at sharing the story of where we are, where we're going to go and why BREX is good work”.

I think that a lot of times I meet founders and they have this little product that they have and it's working. They have some product-market fit. Then they have this super grandiose vision, that's a long-term vision. It's blurry but exists, but there's nothing in the middle. There's nothing between where you are today and the grandiose vision that you have in 10 years.

And I think that what we've done is actually spending a bunch of time over the years finding how to get there and what are the steps that we need to take in order to go from where we are today to a big fish.

So I think that probably the number one advice that I have is just: spend more time in this middle, explaining how you're going to get there and battle-test a little bit.

The second point is: when people raise money for startups, no startup is ever worth right now what are they raising at, right? A seed-stage company is not worth $10 million, right? A series A company isn't worth $30 million... Everyone is just buying a piece of the future and discounting to cap the present value. So whenever you get a good price or a good multiple, you just are able to reduce uncertainty for the future, and that can come in the means of numbers and data.

But most likely the best way to actually reduce uncertainty is through clarity and also through the founding team – being able to articulate a good story about how you're the best founders and the best team to execute it. How are you hiring the best people and how are you going to go towards this vision?

And most people just get caught up in “what is the data?”, “what are the multiples that we have right now?”. And data is one way to reduce uncertainty in the future, but there are other ways to do so as well.

And I think that building relationships with investors ahead of time actually helps them reduce uncertainty because “wow, I know this guy for a while and he told me he was going to do this and he actually did it. So I'll give him some credibility that he's going to execute on these other things that he's telling me it's going to happen in the future”. Right?

And I think that building that credibility and building that reputation that whatever you say you're going to do, you actually do, goes a long way in getting people to bet on you and that you're going to execute all these other things in the future.

Brian Requarth

I love that.

Just want to ask one other thing, because one thing that you communicated just now, which I actually observed from you the first time we met, was that you really crystallize your communication. I remember having dinner that one time at Kevin Hart's and I was like... I was blown away. I'm like “this guy feels like he's an old soul or something. He's got this aura about himself”. What do you attribute your ability to come across with this very clear thought process? Like, why are you able to do that?

Henrique Dubugras: I would say there are two ways of thinking about the world.

One is: let's see what's short-term working and keep doing it.

The other way is being willing to be more long-term oriented.

And none of them are actually worse than the other. You need a mix of both, right? You need a little bit of the tactics, strategy in which you just see what's working and iterate and go from there.

But I think it's also important to have a long-term view and to have an opinion on how the world will be shaped up in the future.

And I think that Pedro and I, together actually, we're a good mix of both: understanding what's working in the short term and why it's working, but also having an opinion on how the world's going to be in the future and what we're executing towards.

Brian Requarth

A challenge of being a founder, or one of the many challenges, is that as the company grows, you're wearing three hats. You end up wearing the hat of the founder, which is more culture-driven and team and people. In this case, you have the kind of the CEO hat, which is more like quarterly board and performance. And then you maybe have the chairman, which is a long-term vision of where you want to go.

How do you balance the demands of those? Maybe there's not so much difference with the culture piece, but the short term and the long term. How do you manage that? And how do you manage expectations around that now that you're a larger company?

Henrique Dubugras

I definitely attribute a lot of the reason why we can be good at these things to the split between Pedro and I. We're co-CEOs and we have this model in which I'm the external CEO and Pedro's the internal CEO. What that means is that I have zero direct reports. Everyone reports Pedro. He manages the business and the day-to-day, and he spends his time operating, running the meetings, making decisions and all these things.

Together we spend time strategizing about the long-term but the interesting thing is that that frees up time for myself to meet new people and to build relationships and to understand what's around the corner and play more of this chairman role a little bit that we had.

So I think this split allows us to be the best of ourselves and execute it to the best. Instead of having one CEO, we have two.

Brian Requarth

It's funny, I've seen that work a couple of times. I've seen it not work a couple of times.

What is it about you guys that makes... — I think of Micky Malka and Wences back in the day with Patagon; I think of Mate and Florian in Loft — there are definitely a few examples of it working.

But oftentimes when founders come to me and they're proposing this model, I usually don't like it, putting on my investor hat. Because there's like a challenge of … People need to know where they fall in this. And if they have a question do they need to go to both of you?

In your case, It sounds like there are very clear lines of internal and external and you don't have any direct reports. But why do you think that the two of you have been able to successfully pull that off? And why do you think it won't work for other people?

Henrique Dubugras

I think that there are three things that make it work.

So, one is that no one has a question around who makes a decision on a few things, right? So like “hey, are we going to execute this priority, that priority in the quarter?”. That's a hundred percent Pedro.

Or “hey, which investor would we pick for a round?”. That decision is a hundred percent me. And there are some big long-term decisions that we work together, but there's a very clear delineation of who decides what. There's not a lot of overlap in areas of responsibility. So there's not a lot of confusion.

I think that the place that doesn't work is when, for example, “hey, he manages product engineering ops. I manage sales, marketing, and finance. But there's a bunch of tie-breaking between these”. So how does that happen? And I think that doesn't really work.

So I think having everyone to report to Pedro and him being the tiebreaker actually is really good and makes us work more.

So I think that's number one. Number two is there's no ego between the two of us. For me, I don't want to make 1 cent more than Pedro and he doesn't want to make 1 more cent than me. I don't want to have one ounce of credit more than Pedro. He doesn't have one ounce of credit more than me.

We actually want the best for each other. We are in this for the long term and, for us, we sometimes even put our relationship ahead of the business. And having an amazing relationship between the two of us is the most important thing for us. And I think having that level of a relationship, where you trust each other 100%, is super important. Because otherwise, I can feel a little bit jealous of him or he can be jealous of me and that just doesn't happen. We share everything.

That is, I think, probably the number two thing that makes it work.

And I think number three is just having people that have complementary skill sets instead of competing skill sets. So I know you know a couple of other founders of the company and they're very similar. And they want to do the same thing. So it ends up being competitive, what they want to do and what's in one scope and no one does the other part.

So I think just being super complementary in terms of skill sets, but also in what you enjoy doing.

I enjoy meeting a lot of new people. Pedro doesn't enjoy it as much. Pedro enjoys thinking about how to tinker with the OKRs to make everyone in the company more productive. I don't really enjoy that. And I think that combination makes it so we are happy with our jobs and we don't want each other's jobs.

Brian Requarth

Did you have that clarity going in? Going back to the topic of clarity or was that just like fortuitous?

Henrique Dubugras

I think that because we started so early, we developed differently.

I think when we met, we probably overlapped a lot more, but he was a better coder than I was. Basically, he said “Henrique, you're not touching my code anymore. Go do something else.” And then I was like “okay, that's fine.” And then I developed more sales and marketing and in finance a few other functions, you know, when we had this so functional break.

So we ended up just learning and developing different things and those were pretty formative years. So I would say we already had pretty different personalities. But because we met so early on and our professional experiences were so early already separated it that way, it made us develop in this super complementary way.

Brian Requarth

That's awesome. Yeah. You guys started pretty young. Like, you were about 22 when you started BREX, more or less.

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, I think I was 21.

Brian Requarth

21. Yeah.

Kind of your style obviously we're in development. I mean, I’m 40, so I'm older and I'm still trying to figure it out. I have a better idea of what I'm good at and that clarity. But, at the same time, we're human, right? So we're in constant evolution. I'm a different leader than I was 10 years ago. What do you think about your leadership qualities and style changes over the course of your different projects you've built?

Henrique Dubugras

The role changes, right? As the company grows. I think in the beginning of the company, the role was more towards execution, which is “hey" — so I worked on, for example, at BREX — "how do we get our first bank deal? How do we raise our first money, how do we hire our first people?” And I think that as the company grows, it's less about making these specific hires, but more around two things.

So, one: building the systems for those things to happen. What do we do at BREX that will make the best people want to work for us as a system, even if I'm not there, pitching them?

And two: what are we not doing that we should be doing today because we can see a lot of other companies doing? So I think benchmarking and learning what's out there and seeing how we're doing versus how other companies are doing and trying to learn a lot, and seeing around the corners becomes more of a job than actually going and like executing everything. It is definitely more true for me, but also true to Pedro a lot.

Brian Requarth

What's the single most great inspiration you've had in your professional career in terms of a startup founder and executive? Is there a person or a company that you look at?

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah. I think of two super big inspirations for me early on. So one was Jorge Paulo Lemann, obviously. He's super famous in Brazil and we were fortunate to get to know him. I think I met him when I was 15 and he has been my mentor and inspirer since then, but a little bit from further away.

And then we had a super close mentor at Pagar.me, which was Andre Street.

And I would say that he was not only our inspiration, but he was like our father of entrepreneurship. He taught us everything we know about how to hire, how to fire, how to build, how to fundraise, how to do everything. And we definitely attribute a big part of our success to him just being there for us early on.

Brian Requarth

Yeah, he's an incredible entrepreneur. I caught up with him a few months ago and it’s impressive what he's been able to build.

Let's talk about some of those failed initiatives that you had early on. What were the top things you’ve learned from those previous initiatives before BREX that you applied to in the current business you’re building?

Henrique Dubugras

I think that the biggest thing we learned is how to get to product-market fit. When you try so many things and fail and then one works, you iterate a lot on how to find product-market fit. And I think that's definitely probably the biggest learning.

In Brazil, especially, if you're not solving a real burning pain point, people are not willing to pay for that, because they don't have that much money. So it forces you to find what the burning pain is, versus things that would make it marginally better. I think in the US there's a lot of companies that made something there early on that was marginally better and it worked. So it's kind of hard to know. You have this idea and it's… You find all this product that really sucks. And we're like “we can build something better.” And sometimes it works in the US but I think in Brazil, it doesn't. It needs to be like a lot better and be like a really burning pain.

And I think we learned how to do that in a meaningful way. So it's probably the biggest lesson.

Brian Requarth

If you look at the markets — because you built a business now in Brazil and you built a business in the US —, if you were to compare side by side what are the really hard things about Brazil but easier in the US or vice versa? How would you draw that matrix?

Henrique Dubugras

So, obviously raising money is much easier, right? And the amount of money that you can raise. At BREX, we had raised $57 million pre-launch, right? That's impossible to do in Brazil. And it makes you think with a different mindset, a mindset of abundance. Like, “hey, let not money be the constraint for me building a great product or hiring the best people.” By having a lot of money. You actually build a company with a scale mindset, not an efficiency mindset, which has its pros and cons. But in tech, I think there's more pros than cons.

So that's probably the first thing. The second thing in the US that's better is that it's much easier to hire executives. You've probably gone through this with Viva Real. There's not a lot of people who have done the job in a startup that you can hire for, right? You either have people who've been in big companies and they only know how to operate big companies, or you have people who have been in super small companies, but in the US you have all these people who went through these growing companies. They started when it was small and now it's big. And they've seen that growth path and they had to build it. And that makes it really easy to scale.

We hired our CFO, for example, Michael, he was our first employee, and he's fantastic. We don't have to think that much about finance. He is just so much better than we are at it. And he just does everything and we don't have to think about it. And he's amazing. Brings a ton of value.

Versus in Brazil, where it was really hard, right? You hire pieces of it, but it's really hard to hire someone who can just take it away from your hands completely so you can focus on something else.

So that's probably the number two thing that's very different from the US.

And number three is just the size of the market. You can build something that is like four segments. And that thing is, if you think about it, just think about it, Silicon Valley Bank always served startups, right? They're only startups and VCs, and winers, I think. And it's a $20 billion bank.

In Brazil It's hard to do super niche-y things and make it a big business because of the currency, the TAM... There you need to build something that's really massive.

Those are probably the things that are easier in the US.

The things that are easier in Brazil: we built Pagar.me, and our competitors took years to catch up. Until this date, there’s stuff we built no one has ever copied.

In the US, we build one thing, and then six months later there's someone copying it. And that competitor just raised like $50 million copying it. There's just so much competition that you need to be on your edge and innovating all the time because otherwise, you'll just stay behind.

Second thing that's easier in Brazil is there are fewer entrepreneurs. So there are more ideas available, there's just a lot of opportunity. And I think people think in the wrong way, they start thinking about “oh, what US ideas will work in Brazil?” But I think there's a lot of Brazil’s specific ideas that wouldn't work in the US, but would work in Brazil, that people haven't worked on. I think there's just more ideas to work on.

And I think that number three, and this is probably less true today than it was in my time, but when I was building a company, the competition for talent was much lower. Today, in the US, a lot of times you build your company around how to attract the best talent, and not you build your culture and then you find people who fit that culture.

Whereas in Brazil, there's not, at least in my time, I think, it has changed now, it was a lot less competitive. So you could actually just filter for culture and hire the best people. And they stayed for longer.

Brian Requarth

It makes sense. When I started Viva Real, Product Manager was not a role in Brazil, right?

That wasn't a job that people had. It was like a project manager.

Things have evolved quite a bit. And I think that there is definitely more talent available now. But I do agree 100% with the treasure trove of opportunities, having lived in Latin America for 13 years.

We both know that there's a lot of friction. And so where there's friction, there's opportunities. I'm very bullish on that and I think that there's not a shortage of smart people either. If you look at the kind of opportunities set out there and then the talent that could go after it... I just think that it's years behind in terms of the culture, of wanting to start a startup and that's something that's growing.

How do you envision that and how are you staying connected to Latin America or Brazil? And, specifically, you've been living outside of Brazil for a while, are you still connected somehow and to some degree? What would you like to see happen in Brazil over the next kind of decade? Politics aside, just thinking about the entrepreneurial ecosystem and where do you think it is headed?

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah. So I stay connected in a few ways. Probably I think this was announced – actually more like leaked – yesterday, but I'm joining the board of Mercado Libre. So that's a way to stay connected with the region and to see what's happening.

It's a super impactful company in the region. So I think that's number one.

And my co-founder Pedro joined the board of Stone. So we both are seeing Brazil and Latin America from a little bit different angle.

Number two: I have a few investments that we did in Brazil. We're not really big investors.

We don't do that that much, but there was one company... Obviously, my brother has a company. I'm an investor in his company. Then there is this company is called Hash. There was this guy that worked at Pagar.me that was really smart and talented. And we invested in his company.

Brian Requarth

Is that João?

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah, João. So, you know, I catch up with him frequently and see what's happening from that angle.

And then, three: I’m part of Fundação Estudar, which is the foundation that gave me a scholarship to come and study abroad. And now, Pedro and I both donate, but we also work with a few of the tech talent there that is interesting, starting startups. So it's our way to give back a little bit and also stay connected to what's happening in Brazil.

That's probably the ways we do it, but I would say 98% of our time is spent in US stuff and in BREX.

Brian Requarth

You don't want to squander the gigantic opportunity you have, right? And stay focused. It's great that you're still connected to some degree there and you're able to support the local ecosystem, which is something that I'm pretty passionate about. I built a business in Brazil and lived in Latin America for a long time, so I feel like it's an important thing to get that virtuous cycle going that we've seen.

You're still based in the bay area. And your company is based in the bay area. I won't go down the whole remote versus office. That's just beating a dead horse here, but I would love to hear your general thoughts about this global opportunity that's in front of us and how the world has become shrunk and more digital and more connected. What opportunities that presents for BREX and for entrepreneurs all over the world?

Henrique Dubugras

I think that this remote thing is going to change the world in a really meaningful way, especially in entrepreneurship. You can now build a global company from Brazil much easier than it was before. Before, if you're building a company in Brazil, it was really hard to hire like American executives, because everyone's in Brazil and they were in the US then you move down in Brazil or work remotely, everyone's in person, except them... It’s just really hard.

Now I think that resilient companies can hire global talents because of remote and that will make it so... Hey, there's a chance that a company that the founder is based in Brazil can actually be competing with companies that the founders are based in the US and Europe and all these other places.

And I think that's a massive difference from the past. And I think that represents an amazing opportunity. And for us, that represents an amazing opportunity to hire talent in Brazil. Before we wouldn’t have done that. And now we're hiring a ton of people in Brazil and we're really happy about it.

So I think that the world just took another huge step towards becoming more global and everything being more connected and literally talent being able to do stuff from all over the world.

Brian Requarth

I think that's great. It lifts the standard of living for an engineer that's in the Northeast of Brazil or in Medelín, in Colombia – they can now work for a global company.

And how is that going to affect – and maybe this isn't your problem to solve, but – those local companies that are now having to compete with BREX, Google, Amazon-type salaries? And what does that mean for globalization?

Henrique Dubugras

It means that the Brazilian companies are going to have to attack larger opportunities in order to be able to attract the talent. I think that's a good thing. So I think our minimum salary in Brazil is something like $50,000 a year, which is a lot of money in Brazil, and in the US, I think in San Francisco, you are considered in poverty with that salary. In Brazil, you are rich. If Brazilian startups want to compete with that, they have to be attacking an opportunity that is big enough to be able to afford someone to cost that much or more. So I think it will focus entrepreneurs on building companies that could be much larger than they were doing before. And that's a good thing.

Brian Requarth

Yeah. I remember reading the book from Thomas Friedman, “The world is flat”, back in 2003 or something, or 2004. It couldn't be more true today, right? The fact that we're connected. We started Latitud and I tried to bring in mentors and I remember if we had a program in person, we wouldn't be able to access this global talent of advisors and people that can help us. So I totally agree with that.

Last thing to wrap up here. Fechando com chave de ouro. What would you say is the word that signifies or exemplifies what it is to be an entrepreneur?

Henrique Dubugras

It's our first value of BREX and we copied it from Jorge Paulo Lemann and his team, which is to dream big. For me, that's the thing that most encompasses entrepreneurship.

Brian Requarth

I also imported that. And the reality is I love the second part of the statement, which is “it costs the same to dream big and dream small. So why not dream big?” It's a huge inspiration for entrepreneurs. And I love that. That's the theme for this podcast, I think. I mean, look at you, you came from a town right outside of San Paulo. You ended up building this global business and why not the next Brazilian or founder from Latam – why can't they build a global business? I think that's something that hopefully we inspire a lot: a new generation of founders that build iconic companies.

Henrique Dubugras

Yeah. I think that the company that I'm seeing that's been the most successful at this from Brazil is probably Wildlife. It’s a massive gaming company. Victor is one of my best friends and it's incredibly impressive. They're one of the largest gaming companies in the world, started and based out of Brazil. There should be more Wildlifes, you know?

Brian Requarth:

The Lazarte brothers are so incredible, man. It's definitely the company that has gone most under the radar, but it's just insane what they built.

We need more Wildlifes and more entrepreneurs thinking big. And you dream big, you can make big things happen.

So thanks a lot for coming on the pod, man, and congrats again with what you've built. You're an inspiration for lots of founders, not just in Brazil, but all around.

Henrique Dubugras

Thank you so much for having me.

Gabriela Levy

Head of Marketing at Latitud

Other Episodes

Stay tuned

Keep up with the LatAm ecosystem by subscribing to our skimmable newsletter

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.