Who Is Breanden Beneschott?

Marc Lyons
Marc Lyons
Senior Writer

Breanden Beneschott is an entrepreneur, investor, and startup founder who has gained a reputation for building and scaling companies to rapid yet sustainable growth. He is the co-founder and CEO of Mechanism Ventures, a startup studio that invites founders to become Entrepreneurs in Residence, helping them drive companies to profitability and long-term success.

Beneschott first attracted the attention of the business world in 2010. From his Princeton dorm room, he co-founded the startup Toptal, the global freelance network of top talent that helps companies scale their teams on demand. Within the first five years, Toptal hit “hypergrowth” – achieving >40% YOY growth and topping $100 million in revenue.

Being one of the first fully-remote companies, Beneschott lived in dozens of countries while growing the company – all the while encouraging Toptal employees to do the same. It was clear from early on the importance of travel and remote work to avoid burnout and maintain a fresh, open-minded, and global outlook.

In addition to his business success, Beneschott is an aspiring philanthropist. In recent years, he turned his passion for making higher education accessible and affordable into a reality by co-founding Bold.org and becoming the chairman of The Bold Foundation, an innovative student finance platform. Bold.org connects individuals and organizations looking to make a difference with deserving students and graduates in need of financial support to achieve their higher education and career goals.

Breanden Beneschott Chairman of Bold Foundation
Breanden Beneschott, Chairman of The Bold Foundation

Early Life and Academic Success

Breanden Beneschott grew up in Northern Nevada. He credits his supportive parents for nurturing his creativity and desire to dream big while also teaching him the value of pragmatism, education, and hard work.

A motivated student who started school a year early and skipped 8th grade, Beneschott earned entry to the Davidson Institute, an organization that backs “profoundly-gifted” students. The Davidson Institute helped Beneschott explore his diverse interests across science and engineering. In his early teens, he participated in mechanical engineering research at Stanford University and the University of Nevada, Reno. Remarkably, Beneschott co-authored several research papers as a teenager while working alongside postdoctoral fellows and professors.

As a teenager, Beneschott completed several internships for companies such as Morgan Stanley. Although he thrived in challenging, high-paced environments, he realized that a desk job in an office was not what he wanted for his future. This realization would also be pivotal in determining the type of work culture that Beneschott has created and thrived in over the years.

In addition to being academically gifted, Beneschott was also a competitive gymnast. He began gymnastics training at a very young age, training up to six days a week and participating in competitions across the country.

An injury during his senior year of high school unfortunately dashed his gymnastics prospects. It ultimately caused him to shift his collegiate ambitions from Stanford to Princeton, setting his life on a new trajectory.

Co-Founding and Growing Toptal, a $100+ Million Revenue Tech Startup

After enrolling in Princeton at age 16, Beneschott gravitated toward his chemical engineering courses. But arguably, his most remarkable achievement at the time was co-founding Toptal out of his dorm room, alongside a business partner based in Palo Alto. Beneschott had been working as a freelance software engineer to fund his education at Princeton, giving him valuable insight into the world of freelance work and the difficulties inherent therein.

Soon after, Breanden co-founded Toptal in 2010 with the mission of connecting the most talented, highly-skilled technical freelancers around the world with startups and global enterprises.

The name Toptal is a portmanteau of “top talent,” further exemplifying the accomplished nature of Toptal’s freelancers: fewer than 3% of applicants pass the rigorous screening process where they demonstrate deep technical expertise, professionalism, communication skills, problem-solving aptitude, creativity, and the ability to succeed with diverse and challenging projects. Toptal has since placed tens of thousands of software engineers, designers, project and product managers, and finance experts with well-known companies such as Shopify, Bridgestone, Duolingo, Emirates, and the Cleveland Cavaliers. The company was successful from the outset, achieving a run rate of $1 million within the first eight weeks.

Beneschott’s next move was unconventional but pivotal to the success of Toptal – and the business philosophy that he would adhere to in the years to come. Rather than setting up offices in New York City or Silicon Valley, as often was the case with many fledgling tech startups, instead Beneschott moved to Budapest, Hungary, where he was able to minimize expenses and overhead, allowing for maximized reinvestment into the business. Traveling and working remotely allowed Beneschott to tap into a vast pool of talented, driven individuals – often with limited local job opportunities – whom he would never have encountered working in the United States.

He and his cofounder also broke the mold by skipping traditional fundraising rounds, instead raising a relatively small amount of seed funding (around $1.5 million) from select strategic investors.

With Toptal being a fully remote company, the company could hire hundreds of exceptional employees all over the world who communicated at all hours via phone, Zoom, or Slack, without setting up a single permanent office. Thriving on the thrill of constant problem solving, Beneschott lived in over 30 countries and helped grow Toptal into a company earning hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue, despite receiving almost no outside funding. During this time, Beneschott helped make Toptal a highly sought-after employer, thanks to the flexible hours, adaptable vacation policy, ongoing travel opportunities, and top-notch collaboration.

Breanden Beneschott polo practice
Breanden Beneschott at a polo practice in Sarasota, Florida

Branching Out: Mechanism Ventures and Beyond

After over eight years as co-founder and COO of Toptal, Beneschott left to pursue a new and even more ambitious direction. Rather than building only one company, the idea was to create an environment in which he could help create and influence many impactful and innovative companies.

Thus, in 2019, Mechanism Ventures was born. The vision? To help fund and scale successful companies that would have a massive, long-lasting, and purposeful impact on the world.

What distinguishes Mechanism from other venture firms is the unique focus on early profitability married with the availability of experts across key practice areas critical for any startup’s early success. Mechanism is a hybrid approach combining the best of venture capital with the support and resources of a startup studio.

Additionally, the firm invests in people – not ideas. Passionate, smart individuals are the key to building sustainable enterprises in today’s economy. Future startup CEOs enter into Mechanism’s “Entrepreneurs in Residence” (EIR) program where they go through a series of roles and ongoing education to learn hands-on how to be an effective CEO, all-the-while honing the idea and plan for their eventual startup.

A minimum requirement for portfolio-invested startups is the capacity to be a billion-dollar market cap opportunity. While in the EIR program, a future CEO may go through any number of business ideas before settling on the right one to launch.

Mechanism is still a relatively new firm, but it has already launched and scaled several successful portfolio companies, with focuses ranging from organic baby formula to pet telehealth services to student finance. Mechanism’s success rate began with its first portfolio company, which achieved profitability within the first 8 weeks and recorded $10+ million run rate in its first year.

Although Mechanism Ventures’ headquarters is in San Francisco, most of the firm’s employees, contractors, and Entrepreneurs in Residence work remotely worldwide. Unlocking the potential for successful remote work has long been a passion of Beneschott’s, and he has authored numerous articles about the value of remote work – not only for businesses but also for individual growth and development.

Beneschott envisions that Mechanism will have sustained, long-term success. He hopes to take a hands-on role in nurturing dozens of portfolio companies over the coming decades.

Breanden Beneschott and daughter
Breanden Beneschott and his daughter in San Francisco, California

Reimagining Life, Work, and Fatherhood

While Beneschott focuses a lot of time on work, he also is an avid polo player. He’s had the opportunity to compete in polo tournaments across continents and now primarily plays at Cypress Polo Club near Wellington, Florida.

Beneschott’s lifestyle is somewhat more settled these days, and he primarily splits his time between San Francisco and Naples, Florida. Beyond growing Mechanism and its portfolio companies, Beneschott’s biggest priority is his four-year-old daughter.

His commitment to remote working has served him well as a parent, allowing him to spend a significant amount of time with his daughter.

Breanden believes working remotely has made him a better parent, not just because he is physically present, but because he can lead by example as both the CEO of a thriving firm and as the father of an intelligent and caring little girl who is interested in learning everything she can.

About the author
Marc Lyons
Marc Lyons
Marc Lyons is a regular contributer to WiseGEEK. As a travel expert, Marc covers all things involving discovery, new places and adventures. He has traveled the world and here to share his insights.