Brex never cared about small businesses, FundidCEO Stefanie Sample said during a PitchIt podcast episode with Fintech Nexus’ Todd Anderson.
“If you look at Brex’s history, they’ve always underwritten based on cash flow, with a minimum requirement of $50,000 in your bank account, which every small business owner listening to this is laughing at right now because that’s not a thing,” she said.
At the end of June, Brex, a longtime fintech business lender, said it would drop SMBs in favor of Silicon Valley startups. Many in the startup and fintech industry were taken back by the change, as the firm let customers know the lights and water were shut off by Sept. 15.
So long, and thanks for all the funding
The firm said in a release that they decided to ramp down when they released the EMpower startup product and knew they couldn’t focus on companies of “all different sizes.”
“Unfortunately, that means some of our Brex customers’ accounts will be closed,” the release read. “Our products are designed for companies that have or will soon reach some level of scale and who inevitably face challenges such as fast-growing headcounts, global workforces, or significant cash to manage.”
If you can’t take the pressure to grow, get out from under the expectations of fintechs looking to appease their investors. Sample, a serial startup founder and investor herself, said this change had been two years in the making.
“Two years ago, they started doing venture debt. So the argument that’s out there right now that Brex left small businesses because it’s not economical, I would argue that Brex never really wanted to serve small businesses,” she said.
She knows the territory
Sample knows the territory: she founded Fundid after witnessing first-hand the lopsided handouts of the PPP program.
She mentioned an enerving Wall Street Journal Article that said, “As predicted, a bunch of white male bankers gave all the PPP money to White Male Business owners.” She said thousands of SMBs that needed the most money, those with two or three employees, were left out, especially women-owned.
She wanted to make a change and launched her own lending company in Montana, driven by a joint mission in the SMB funding space: to empower business owners on their growth journeys by simplifying business, finance, and access to capital.
Her feelings on the Brex shakeup came through as she described her story with Anderson. She said the mess gives the work of serving small businesses a bad name.
“They got almost all of their early customers through their Y Combinator connections base,” she said. “They have a whole team underwriting based on term sheets, and it’s annoying to me because they’re putting a bad name on serving small businesses.”
She said the world needs more companies serving small businesses even when fintechs join banks in shutting their doors.
Anderson said it was one of his favorite interviews, a candid and passionate take on the smallest of small businesses that banks regularly overlook. Aside from the client-cutting controversy, they covered the myth that it is impossible to serve the smallest small businesses and the risks they face.
Intensely energetic news reporter asking questions covering the collision between Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and everywhere in-between. Studied history at the University of Delaware, learned to write at the Review, and debanked.