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Startup Success: Creating A Moving Money Platform

Greater Des Moines (DSM)-based startup Dwolla was born out of the idea that moving money should be three things — easy, fast and affordable. CEO Ben Milne discusses what led to the company’s success.

Dwolla’s Three Corporate Selling Tracks

Dwolla pitches to financial institutions, businesses and governments. Ben talks about having someone with credibility and knowledge to sell to large clients within the industries you’re pitching. When you don’t have the background to have that credibility, you need someone who does.

Sales Processes

Ben explains that if you’re selling a consumer product, the idea is to give the customer what they want and get their money for that product. When you’re selling to a business, you’re building a partnership that can result in revenues for that business so you both succeed. Dwolla has found startup success in this by serving both consumers as well as big financial institutions.

Building a Product and a Plan While Raising Capital

Ben outlines early-stage questions to ask as product ideas evolve. Does the product work? How are people using your product? How much money to get to the next milestone?

As you begin to grow, questions evolve as well. How are people using the product? How big is my market? How much money will it take to get to the next milestone?

Planning Structure

Every six weeks, the Dwolla team executes a life cycle for ideas. Employees look at work load for the six weeks, the plan is tracked by managers, leadership and legal teams and the ideas are then launched after that. From there it’s build, measure and iterate. Ben says if you can’t measure something, you should kill the idea. Ideas should contribute to customer/investor success.


Don’t screw up the value proposition. Connect the client to what they need. Customers and businesses are willing to pay for control, security and service. Dwolla’s marketing is very focused on public relations and getting that message out.

Staying in Sync with the Dwolla Team/Family

The Dwolla team has never been in one place. Building similar remote offices and hiring like-minded people creates a culture that stretches to different locations when the startup is decentralized.

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