26-year-old co-CEO of a $12 billion startup tells how he experienced 2 burnouts

Sao Paulo – Pedro Franceschi is founder and co-CEO of Brex. Five years into its existence, the Silicon Valley corporate card fintech is already worth just over $12 billion. Franceschi, 26, is one of the newest Brazilian billionaires, along with his partner Henrique Dubugras. But success is a double-edged sword and the young entrepreneur says he went through two burnout syndromes (exhaustion from work) until he got back on track.

He was no ordinary child (by conventional standards). From the age of six, Franceschi had been interested in her parents’ Mac computers. At eight, he began to learn programming. He’s been working since he was 13, when he spoke at a TED Talks after being sued by Apple for unlocking iPhones.

Franceschi and Dubugras founded the fintech Pagar.me in 2013, in Brazil, when they were 18 and 19 years old, respectively. Stone bought the company from the two young men in 2016, when Franceschi left Brazil to move to California.

“When Henrique and I left Brazil, we wanted to move to set up a bigger business. We knew that being big or being small would be the same work. And to be big, at the time, California was what we had”, said Franceschi during XP’s Expert event, held in São Paulo on Wednesday (3).

Brex was founded in January 2017 and in April of the same year it received its Series A check. To date, the startup has raised $1.5 billion in 11 rounds, according to the report. Crunchbase. The latest, a $300 million Series D extension, raised its valuation to $12.3 billion.

“I had a complicated burnout experience,” Franceschi said. Today, he says he understands that the entrepreneur needs to have a “routine of an athlete”.

“Do this every day. Therapy and meditation helped me. The job is emotionally charged, and rightly so, because the CEO’s role is to support the team,” she said.

But understanding that it’s not irreplaceable and preparing people for the company’s succession also helped Franceschi and the startup culture. “Everyone thinks they’re irreplaceable, and in the end, they’re not. Things are teachable, not unique to a person. This is true for everyone,” he said.

According to an executive, at the speed at which Brex grew, it was necessary to bring in leaders from outside the company, such as a former executive at Meta (Facebook’s holding company), who became a product leader at fintech. But now, Franceschi says Brex is training people “at home”.

“If something happens to me, the company has to be bigger than me. We have to ensure that every leader in the company is not only replaceable, but sees having someone better as part of success, creating a culture of succession.”

Even for a new startup, Franceschi says the behaviors of new employees are not the same as they were in the company’s early days. The challenge for Brex to remain an innovative startup is to get back to the “day one”, according to the entrepreneur. “It’s remembering the way we behaved in the beginning. We haven’t won 0.1% of the journey yet, we have to place ourselves on this trajectory. Dreaming big is what you do on Monday. How to design these processes in everyday life”.

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