AMA: Max Segall

AMA: Guy Kawasaki
April 23, 2019
AMA: Courtland Allen
May 23, 2019

Max Segall Team AMA is happening on July 25th 2019 at 10:00 AM PST (1:00 PM EST)

 
Max leads ecommerce partnerships at Brex, the B2B financial services company that built the first corporate card for ecommerce businesses. At Brex he builds channel and rewards relationships with agencies, software vendors, and community builders across the ecommerce landscape.
 
Prior to Brex, Max worked at the private equity firm TPG, where he invested in technology and payments businesses. Max started his career in the media & telecom investment banking group  at Morgan Stanley, where he advised companies on mergers, acquisitions, and fundraising.
 
Brex provides online sellers with an interest-free 60-day line of credit with limits ranging from 50-100% of their monthly sales volume. The Brex card also comes with advanced fraud protection, easier expense management, exclusive partner offers, and U.S.-based support—all on the Mastercard network with no personal guarantee. Built for modern brands, there’s never been an easier way to manage your cash flow, seasonality, or inventory. Apply today at brex.com/onlinegeniuses and receive a $500 sign-up bonus and waived card fees for life.

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Max Segall – Transcript

AMA with Max Segall @ Brex

July 17th, 2019

Are you guys hiring Product Managers?
Always looking to hire top talent! Check out open positions here – https://careers.brex.com

How does a company scale that fast without falling apart?
Scaling sustainably is very top of mind at Brex! One helpful tactic has been hiring people who have experience working at hypergrowth compnies so they can bring perspective on what works well and what doesn’t

When you have an idea (well planned) and you have 0 experience searching for investors. How do you find them?
A lot of major markets have pitch events where you can practice your pitch in front of experienced investors and get geniuine low-stakes feedback. DM me where you’re at so that I can recommend a few

Was there any marketing content that was key to Brex’s success?
Here’s an article we wrote about our Outdoor Ad campaign which really helped us get of the ground early: https://www.producthunt.com/stories/how-brex-is-building-the-startup-marketing-playbook-beyond-the-billboards

You said you’ve been advising and investing in tech companies your whole career. What is the biggest red flag you see that would make you end the relationship?
One red flag I’ve seen is when a founder doesn’t understand all of the nuances of the market and competitive landscape they’re going after

How do you go about validating ideas before building products?
Brex builds products based off the verticals that we feel are underserved by the corporate credit card market. For example our startup, ecomm, and life sciences products are all going after pockets of the small business universe that don’t have good financing alternatives available today

Hi Max, for a card supposedly focused on startups, you guys seem to have rather high and inflexible qualification requirements. I think it’s $50K/mo of sales, not taking into account the profit margin, or am I getting something wrong?

Hey Ray! Brex’s underwriting philosophy for startups is based on the available cash balance/burn rate of startups. For ecommerce, Brex evaluates the trailing 30 day net sales to determine their credit limit. Happy to answer any specific underwriting questions over DM

How long is your sales process at Brex? Do you have any tips for nurturing users to close, especially on big/expensive/new tech accounts?
Signing up for brex is really simple – our online application only takes a few minutes to fill out. For prospects that prefer a direct sales dialogue with a demo, the sales cycle will typically last ~one week. Once users see the product in action during demos, the value prop makes a lot more sense and getting signups is really easy from there

The Insights section of your website is brilliant. Can you tell us a bit about your content strategy, how you went about it?
Thanks so much Pamela! We put a lot of energy behind being a trusted knowledge center for our customers. We actually hired the amazing TechCrunch reporter who covered our first big fundraising announcement to manage this section of our site

Do you offer any solutions for high risk industries? cannabis or CBD
Not yet! But stay tuned

What kind of partnerships do you focus on? What partnership tactics have worked best for you?
The best partnerships have been those where our customers love our partners’ product and our partner’s customers love ours! From that starting point everything from cross promoting, product integrations, and events / content flow very naturally

Who do you consider to be your #1 competitor, and how do you think you’re different?

Many of our clients will switch over to us from either: 1) reimbursing spend on personal or 2) Amex / SVB / Chase.We think we’re differnet since 1) we’re underwriting our clients differently which allows us to give clients higher limits without requiring the founder to personally guarantee the card, 2) we have best in class rewards, and 3) we automate many aspects of the expense managagment process on the back end

How important do partnerships in any regard fall into your growth plan?
2) Besides the good ole fashion way of building partnerships.. Are you using any software or services?


Partnerships are a critical part of Brex’s growth story – not only do partners connect us with new customers, but they also offer rewards perks that our customers LOVE – as an example, Zoom offers every Brex customer 20% off of their first year’s subscription costs.
Here’s a summary of our rewards program – some great stuff in here! brex.com/rewards

Would love to hear of any tools / services you’d recommend for building partnerships!

What does your ideal client look like?

What are you looking for in partners?

What do you expect from partners in terms of marketing on their side? What’s a case study of one that’s gone really well? (edited) 
Once we launch a cross-promotional partnership, we aim to get our partners promoting Brex via direct customer outreach (in-person + email), blog content, and co-hosted events
1) How are you dealing with Fraud? what if i have a fraudulent charge?
2) And does my usage affect my personal credit score?
Signing up for Brex requires NO personal guarantee and won’t impacting anybody’s personal credit score – we’re underwriting businesss, not people!
Regarding your fraud q – when you report an unauthorized transaction, our team immediately suspends your card to prevent additional fraudulent behavior on your account and issues you a new card. We will credit your account for all unauthorized transactions and the funds will be returned to you and reflected on your Brex dashboard once the dispute process is complete, which typically takes 5-10 business days!
Have you found any behavior indicators that distinguish good clients vs poor clients?
Our underwriting process focuses in on what we consider the important, observable leading indicators of business health / runway. Some of the big ones are cash balance for startups and order volume ecommerce companies
What roles have you found to be the key decision makers when it comes to bringing in clients in the $15-50M segment?

How will Brex handle the West-European market since West Europe has a different credit card culture (credit score is here not really a thing for example). Also, thoughts on European fintech startups like N26? Been a client of N26 myself and I would say their MasterCard Debit Card is something that Europeans really like.Another question, do you guys have some sort of partnership with Shopify or do you have any plans for that?
1) Brex hasn’t disclosed international planning and timing yet, but trust that we will hit other markets in a similar, thoughtful approach that we did in the U.S.!
2) yes, we have spoken to Shopify but we don’t have formal arrangement with them yet. as you know they have SHOP capital option, which is a great option for some sellers
You offer B2B financing, have you thought about partnering with a B2C financing company to serve their customers? As a partnership opportunity.
Today we are exclusively focused on business customers – but we’re always open to exploring creative partnerships – DM me!
In the Marketing artcle you’ve shared with us: https://www.producthunt.com/stories/how-brex-is-building-the-startup-marketing-playbook-beyond-the-billboards , the term “marketing ‘loops'” is referred to several times. Could you describe these loops in a bit more detail? And what differentiates the term from funnels?
It’s like a flywheel for marketing. So lets say we bringing in a customer via an ad, and we prompt her/him to refer at the right time (after activation), she/he can then take an action and we acquire a new user through a different, channel, they then go through the same loop!
Here’s some more detail on the topic: https://www.reforge.com/blog/growth-loops