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Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi

Rachel Bujalski—The New York Times/Redux

Even the brightest startups can be stymied by a simple problem: getting a big-budget corporate card—without a credit history. That’s where Brex, the brainchild of Stanford dropouts Henrique Dubugras and Pedro Franceschi, comes in. Instead of evaluating applicants based on the company’s history, as a traditional bank would, the company reviews its real-time financial data and extends credit lines based on current factors, such as funding and spending behavior. Of course, lending money to high-risk startups is itself a high risk. That’s why Brex requires companies to pay their balances in full at the end of each 30-day cycle. In the weeks after the card’s 2018 debut, Brex served more than 1,000 individual customers and secured backing from PayPal founders Peter Thiel and Max Levchin. This year, competitors Stripe and American Express announced similar products—a sign that Dubugras and Franceschi may be on to something. —Tara Law