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Dwolla's Milne Returns to Startup Stories

March 9, 2015

As is well known by anyone who has heard him speak in his inimitable style, Ben Milne builds stuff. Milne, CEO and Founder of Dwolla, is bringing that style and a vast repository of insight to share at the April edition of the Business Innovation Zone’s Startup Stories while fielding questions from the audience and Mike Colwell, Director of Entrepreneurial Initiatives for the Greater Des Moines Partnership.

Milne is a well-known member of the Greater Des Moines (DSM) entrepreneurial community while also being known and respected across the United States and Europe. Infected with entrepreneurial fever and a driving passion to create at an early age he founded his first company, Elemental Designs at 18. Utilizing the power of the Internet, which would become a theme with Milne, he built a worldwide distribution system for the delivery of custom-built audio speakers. Beginning with car audio but graduating into the home theater market Milne was able to turn an original $1200 investment, and an idea hatched while a student at the University of Northern Iowa, into a multi-million dollar company. Six successful years down the road however the passion to create was overwhelming the desire to manage and Milne was looking for the next idea. Its genesis lies in the challenge to manage costs at Elemental Designs. With credit card fees chewing up $55,000 a year in potential profit, it seemed to Milne that a better way must exist.

Opting for a challenge no less daunting than fundamentally changing the way value is exchanged, Milne sold Elemental Design in 2008 and self-funded the founding of Dwolla whose mission is to “allow anyone [or anything] connected to the internet to move money quickly and safely at the lowest cost possible.” Simply put Dwolla is a payment network that allows any business or person to send, request and accept money on a network that securely connects to the user’s bank account and allows them to move money for just $0.25 per transaction. Launched in December of 2010, Dwolla was moving $1 million a day by July 2011.  Since that time, Milne has set the financial world on its ear while occasionally burning that ear with some direct language earning him the title of “Disruptor of the Year” according to Forbes. Along the way the pitches, partnerships, and investment funding have come as have the near countless honors and recognitions including  SBA Young Entrepreneur Of The Year, Forbes 30 under 30 for Finance, Amex Open Top 10 Entrepreneurs under 30, Inc. 30 Under 30 and MIT 35 Under 35.

Now seven years down the path with more than $32 million dollars backing from the nation’s top investors, Milne, a much sought after speaker and champion of the entrepreneurial ecosystem, will sit down with his friend Colwell to answer questions and share insights in a format that will allow for extensive audience participation in the process. “I’m excited to have Ben as a guest,” declared Colwell. “While his expertise is clearly broad, I really want to zero in on the pathway from product to success,” he said of his hope that Milne can provide insights on that critical passage from minimal viable product to marketplace success. “So many people focus on that first sale, and then stumble; I want Ben to share how you move from the first to the nth, and how a great product becomes a great company.”

“I can’t help but feel that I’m more soft spoken in the majority of conversations these days,” wrote Milne in a recent blog post. In that same post, recapping 2014 both professionally and personally he wrote, “Words are just noise unless they contribute something to whomever hears them. If you aren’t sure what you’re saying, stop talking.” We expect Milne to use the allotted hour entirely and we expect space to be at a premium. Interested parties should register early.

$15 admission fee (includes lunch) or free (if you don’t want lunch).
11:30 a.m.
April 15, 2015

Ruan II, 601 Locust St.
First Floor Auditorium

Contact us at info@squareoneDSM.com for more information.

Reasonable accommodations for persons with disabilities will be made if requested at least two weeks in advance.

Square One DSM, an initiative of the Greater Des Moines Partnership, is formerly known as Business Innovation Zone (BIZ).

About Square One DSM

Square One DSM’s mission is to connect entrepreneurial needs with qualified community and state resources and to provide guided professional and business direction. Square One DSM helps entrepreneurs maximize their successes by helping them navigate resources, strengthen knowledge, improve skills, form strategic alliances and secure proper capitalization. Learn more at SquareOneDSM.com.

About the Greater Des Moines Partnership 

The Greater Des Moines Partnership is the economic and community development organization that serves Greater Des Moines (DSM), Iowa. Together with 23 Affiliate Chambers of Commerce, more than 6,100 Regional Business Members and more than 320 Investors, The Partnership drives economic growth with one voice, one mission and as one region. Through innovation, strategic planning and global collaboration, The Partnership grows opportunity, helps create jobs and promotes DSM as the best place to build a business, a career and a future. Learn more at DSMpartnership.com.