In 2018, Sean Dudayev combined his passions of business and fighting and launched Brawl Bros – an online fight fan’s paradise. To make sure the company has the best fighting chance at winning, Dudayev has brought credit cards into the ring.
Sean Dudayev has been a boxing aficionado since the tender age of 10. Although he wanted to go professional, entrepreneurship also called. So, he went to college and focused on the business world, eventually starting a successful digital life insurance brokerage and then his own marketing agency.
His first love, though, was always omnipresent. Even after he stopped fighting, his conversations always seemed to center around the sport.
“That’s when it hit me – just because I no longer fight, it doesn’t mean I have to leave my passion behind,” says Dudayev. “In fact, I realized I could combine the two passions. That’s how Brawl Bros was born.”
Brawl Bros, headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, was launched in 2018, and is best described as an online fight fan’s paradise. Its entire focus is boxing and mixed martial arts, providing training tips and news as well as specialized gear, apparel and products. At first, it was Dudayev’s hobby, but the company soon took off.
“This made me realize the level of value I could provide in that space. So, in 2020, I decided to focus most of my energy on Brawl Bros,” says Dudayev. “I’ve finally found what I want to do with the rest of my life. I want to build a brand that signifies fighting for something, both literally and figuratively. All of this is to be done with the mission of inspiring everyone to fight for a good cause.”
To make sure the company has the best fighting chance at winning, Dudayev has brought credit cards into the ring.
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How did you start the business?
The beginning of the business was very much nonchalant. I told myself that I would focus on building my agency first and foremost, and whatever time I had left I would spend with Brawl Bros.
The biggest challenge was having a second business to grow and finding the time and resources to do so. Between investing and managing employees on one end, while trying to start a brand-new business from scratch on the other, I found I was spreading myself a bit thin both mentally and financially.
That’s when I systemized my marketing agency and am now going all-in building Brawl Bros.
How did you manage the costs? Did anything catch you off guard?
The biggest surprise cost was manufacturing. For this reason, I decided to use a drop shipper (instead of keeping goods in stock, orders are shipped directly to the customer). However, this came with its own issues of having a lack of control over the process from creation quality to the shipping of the products, as well as low margins.
Once we started sourcing manufacturers, our issues were finding the extra funds necessary to get a manufacturer to commit to us, as a lot of my funding was tied up in making payroll with my agency. That’s where credit cards came in handy.
In my first business, I was not able to qualify for any big loans and had to grow the company with credit cards – they were a core reason for being able to grow that business. So, I don’t subscribe to advice that recommends against it, as my personal experience says otherwise.
How have you been using credit cards for the business?
We mainly use credit cards for three purposes: marketing, manufacturing and monthly overhead. Many of those things we have the cash for, but we prefer to tack on the rewards, as well as keep things organized by card.
Our expenses are pretty simple, but we are also investing heavily into R&D for new products and content development right now.
Which cards do you have and why did you choose them?
My favorite card is the Chase Sapphire Reserve that I’ve been keeping handy. While it does have great rewards, it’s my favorite card because it’s what started it all. It may sound silly, but that card has gotten me to revenue more than once and provided opportunities for me that I didn’t have early on, so it holds a special place in my heart.
Also, I feel every business owner has one, but an American Express is a must-have. I’ve got The Platinum Card® from American Express purely for the rewards and getting out of a pickle with fulfillment of goods.
Are you usually leveraged, or do you remain debt-free?
I love growing a company with debt. I find that it is a lot less expensive than giving away equity and control to outside investors. I’ve grown every company I have this way and will continue to do so because I see a great return on my investment consistently.
What are your future plans for Brawl Bros?
Currently, we have three phases of the business and we are in phase one. In this phase, we are looking to aggressively deliver high-quality content in multiple forms of consumption for combat sports fans globally. We also are looking to get our apparel off the ground and generate significant revenue so that we can begin donating a large portion of our revenue to charity partners. We live by our slogan to fight for something and want to make sure it’s within every strand of DNA in our brand.
Phase two will involve creating our own equipment that improves on what’s out there in a big way, and phase three will be a huge surprise for combat sports fans!
Do you have any regrets?
The most cliché answer every entrepreneur will give you is that you can’t have regrets because it all led you here. I subscribe to this thinking 100%, but I do have one big regret, and that’s not pursuing my passion sooner.
I wish I would’ve recognized the opportunity for what it was early on rather than let the certainty of predictable revenue that I had with my agency guide my decisions.
What is your advice to entrepreneurs who are just starting out?
The best advice I can give an entrepreneur is to start today. There will never be a better time in your life to start what you want to start, and that mindset of a better time is just an illusion. Carve out the time, energy and money needed and prioritize it accordingly in your life. You can’t buy back time so don’t wait.
To paraphrase one of my favorite quotes: The best time to start something is yesterday, the second-best time is today.
What about borrowing money – what have you learned that you can share?
The best lesson I learned is to not take advice from others on what to do with your money and where to get it from. Not even a billionaire can give someone the end-all and be-all advice because everyone’s situation is different. Use your mind and evaluate your situation and do what is best for you, because it may be way different for someone else.