Iowa Start-Up Changing How Money Moves

Ben Milne and the Dwolla team are charting a course to disrupt the e-commerce industry by building the ideal money-moving platform. What began as frustration over transaction fees has now grown into a thriving business providing solutions for customers all over the world. “Dwolla is the portmanteau of Web and Dollar. The software and our platform move dollars with the web,” explained Milne.

Problem Solver

Milne’s entrepreneurial journey began in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He credits the Cedar Falls Public School System and the internet for his education. In high school, Milne’s official career began as he sold speakers online. “I didn’t consider myself an entrepreneur until someone else called me one… I did start a business in high school which turned into a product line that I sold to my employees 4 to 5 years later,” said Milne.

The primary revenue source for Milne’s business came from credit card purchases. The constant 3.5% charge baffled Milne as he considered how money actually moves from place to place. “When you pay 3.5% for a transaction you’re paying for a lot of old technology to make accounting entries with the sending and receiving bank… I got frustrated and started to figure out a way to do it differently,” explained Milne.

Problem Solved

The frustration of paying 3.5% per transaction led to the creation of Dwolla in 2010. Since then the product has evolved, but the core idea and the API have remained the same. “The last seven years, Dwolla has produced changes very quickly and technology that can evolve rapidly to meet our clients’ needs,” said Milne. Today, Dwolla is a part of moving billions of dollars in transactions each year. Union Square Ventures, Foundry Group, and Andreessen Horowitz financially back Dwolla.

One of the keys to success for the Dwolla team is the ability to innovate new solutions with their platform. “I get tremendously excited when I see something I’ve never seen before that is enabled by the connection we provide to the banking system… It never gets old,” explained Milne, ” Customer innovations is where I get my dopamine kick and motivation from these days.” The ability to innovate to customer demands has the future of Dwolla growing rapidly. After another round of raising capital (12.5 million dollars), the Dwolla team will add another 40 team members this upcoming year.

Learn more from Ben Milne and Dwolla as he speaks at 1 Million Cups Fargo on Wednesday, February 28th, 2018 at 9:15 a.m. at The Stage in Island Park.

Brent McNeal