Learn from the Best: An Interview with Braintree’s Bryan Johnson


37Signals got a chance to sit down with Bryan Johnson, the CEO of Braintree, the online payments company. The interview shed light on many different aspects of a startup’s business model, including:


Freemium vs. Premium

Bryan decided early on that the service Braintree provided was too costly to have a freemium business model. And when Braintree’s minimums were high—$200 at their peak—the company got a lot of grief.

He dealt with it by explaining the other options out there that may be a better fit for the cash-conscious customer. “I think staying firm often created an inverse effect, causing people to value us more than they did initially.”

The Beauty of Financial Constraints

Braintree didn’t have outside capital and were forced to do more with less. But it was precisely these financial constraints that allowed the company to flourish.

“Constraints are a beautiful thing because they force creativity and precision. We don’t have the resources to throw after hit-or-miss hires or strategies. Bootstrapping a business requires a different mentality. It’s taught us to be frugal, hire slowly, and exercise caution as we grew the business. While companies that take funding can do those things, people have a tendency to behave differently when it’s not their money on the line.”

For more on Braintree’s “insane” industry, its eclectic business culture and more, check out the full story.

Brennon Slattery
Marketing and Web Designer

Brennon is a Marketing and Web Designer at A Charitable Life. He is also a freelance writer and the author of over 600 PCWorld articles. Before A Charitable Life, he was the Project Manager, Web Designer/Developer at Pearson.
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