How the 22-year-old founders of Brex built a billion-dollar business

Hello Everyone!

We’ve got lots of great stuff in the newsletter for you this month. A brand-new case study, some news articles we shared around our office, and a secret deal. Let’s do this. 

In this week’s newsletter, we will talk about

  • Earning $18,000 Per Month by Managing Three Products Simultaneously
  • Building $12.3 Billion Credit Card Business within 4 Years
  • Earning 100,000€+ Revenue as Independent Bootstrapped Software Designer

1. Earning $18,000 Per Month by Managing Three Products Simultaneously

DevUtils is a Singapore-based MacOS app that comprises tools for developers. It automatically identifies the tool required for your content and arranges them into small, organized groups that are accessible offline as well. It was founded by Tony Dinh in 2020. There are currently four plans available as follows: 

  • Basic – which you can get for 1 MacOS device at $29 
  • Personal for 2 MacOS devices at $39
  • Standard, which is available at $59 and gives access to 3 MacOS devices at a time
  • Team for 3+ MacOS devices, which you can avail at $24 per device.

Tony originally built this app to aid his company, Devuap, in various activities. During the pandemic, he transformed DevUtils from a side project to a full-time product. Soon, he quit his rewarding job – to work independently and make his own living. Initially, Dinh shared his products with his family and friends and then with potential customers. 

He took to his Twitter account to promote his app to a larger audience and boost traffic. It garnered a fairly good response, featuring on Hacker News, and earning $23K in November 2021. 

  • About 58% of revenue was contributed by DevUtils alone due to the Black Friday sale, during which he earned $10K revenue by selling 400 copies of his product at a 30% discount. Recently, he earned $5,256 in revenue in 30 days. 
  • The other 42% of the revenue came from Black Magic, a Twitter SaaS, covered in our previous newsletter.

Tony is currently earning a revenue of $18K per month by managing three products simultaneously on his own – DevUtils, Black Magic, and Xnapper, a screenshot app. He suggests the following techniques to manage multiple products:

  • Do what is required – Take efficient decisions regarding your priorities and backlog in accordance with time constraints.
  • Do each Task in parts – Work on most tasks regularly, and switch between tasks at frequent intervals.
  • Work slowly and steadily – Do not restrain yourself by deadlines, strict promises, and roadmaps.
  • Diversify your ideas – Having multiple products reduces the risk of incurring losses. If one of them fails, you have others to fall back on.
  • Try everything yourself – This helps to detect errors before the customers find out for themselves.
  • Automate processes – This is particularly applicable for customer support.
Black Magic has reached $100K ARR within 9 months.

Dinh is aiming to update DevUtils at least once in every two months. He also plans to hire people and build a team to give himself more time for innovation. He is enjoying his lifestyle at present – following his passion and living life to its fullest.

2. How the 22-year-old founders of Brex built a billion-dollar business

Brex is a San Francisco-based payments business that provides corporate credit cards to startup founders in a simplified process. This credit card business solves and eases credit access, which is a major problem for entrepreneurs, particularly for founders by:

  • Giving a consolidated look to the expenditure of companies. 
  • Providing entrepreneurs with an option to issue virtual cards immediately after completion of online application.
  • Offers 10 times the credit limit than other similar businesses.

There are various pricing options with no hidden fees:

  • One-time payment of $5 for each user up to the first 5 cards.
  • To avail more than 5 cards, you have to pay $5 per month for each additional user.

It was founded in 2017 by Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi but was made accessible to the public in 2018. The two met at the age of 16 and quickly became friends due to their similarities – a love for coding and parental restrictions on hacking. But they didn’t listen to anyone and decided to follow their passion. They founded Pagar.me, which earned $30 million with a valuation of $1.5 billion in transactions when it was sold. After tasting the sweet fruits of their first success, they came to Silicon Valley and built a virtual reality startup called Beyond. However, the duo discarded it and finally founded Brex. The business gained momentum in such little time that Dubugras and Franceschi quit Stanford to dedicate all their time to their business. 

Brex is free from any third-party technology, personal guarantee, or security deposit. As a result, it held a value of $1.1 billion within two years of its existence. In 2021, it raised funding of $300 million at a valuation of $12.3 billion.

Brex has been gathering new customers each month & expanded its customer base. It has announced its plans to launch Brex Bank, which will eliminate dependency on intermediary banks for fixed deposits. It has also announced to collaborate with Zapier, allowing workflow automation among its products without coding.

More reading: Brex – The Future of Business Finance and Cash Management by YCombinator

3. Earning 100,000€+ Revenue as an Independent Bootstrapped Software Designer

Rubini Solutions is an Estonia-based, fully bootstrapped company specializing in the design of SaaS products and the collection of third-party data for profit. It creates relationships and systems based on data by making all available information meaningful, clearer, and helpful in decision-making. It was founded in 2018 by Mike Rubini, a software entrepreneur from Italy.

Mike is passionate about playing Jazz, so much so that he wants to dedicate his entire life to it. Unfortunately, his first product, BuddyAd, was a failure which led him to depression. Although, he didn’t give up – and in a turn of events, all SaaS products he designed thereafter resulted in profits. He doesn’t invest anything himself or accept money from external sources – all his products are bootstrapped

There are various products available at present, namely:

UseCart – A software providing competitive insights for 1,966,877 e-commerce companies regarding products, stores, suppliers, etc. 

Treendly – An online tool that helps in discovering rising and curated trends. You can also use it to track your own trends. 

The three plans available on Cart & Treendly are: 

  • Free plan
  • Supporter at $99 per year, and 
  • Enterprise, which offers POA viz Price on Application

TargetBear: A tool that discovers and targets interests for Facebook advertising and helps in surpassing your competitors. Currently, only a free plan is available.

Mike has earned 100,000€+ revenue as an independent software designer and bootstrapper. For August 2022, their Gross revenue was $20,000. Currently, Rubini is continuously introducing new products in the market as well as improving some of his existing ones. He wants to play Jazz as he wishes to while providing for his family and working independently. While designing products, he believes in certain core values and principles such as profit-motive, velocity, transparency, and multiplicity.

These three stories show that even after quitting something – either your college or your job – no one can stop you from following your passion and achieving success. So, do not give up – as you will surely taste the sweet fruits of success!

Before you go

I hope these stories were inspiring! Know someone who might dig this newsletter? Share this newsletter with a friend.

Until next week, keep minting money!