Dwolla closes $1M Series A round - interview with founder Ben Milne
"Ben Milne, founder and CEO of Des Moines-based Dwolla, announced today that his startup has completed its Series A financing round with $1 million from two of Iowa’s longest-standing financial services companies: The Veridian Group of Waterloo and The Members Group (TMG) of Des Moines. This is Dwolla’s second raise, following a $250,000 Angel round completed in November 2009.
The Veridian Group is associated with Veridian Credit Union which had a previous relationship with Dwolla as one of the financial institutions where user’s funds were deposited. Veridian Credit Union is the largest credit union in Iowa and one of the largest in the nation. TMG, a subsidiary of the Iowa Credit Union League, provides card processing, payment solutions and other services to financial institutions.
Additionally, Dwolla has engaged industry leaders in its first Advisory Board including Suku Radia, President and CEO of Banker’s Trust and technology entrepreneur Christian Renaud, both of Des Moines, and Matt Harris, managing general partner of New York City-based Village Ventures.
Despite being extremely busy with today’s announcement, Milne was able to answer a few questions for us by email about the news:
Silicon Prairie News: What's it feel like to have finished your fundraising?
Ben Milne: It felt fantastic for the first 15 minutes! After that, everything turned into a lot of urgency. Shane [Neuerberg, Dwolla’s CTO] and I have been working on this for a long time and we are having a great time adding to the team. Planning and hashing out ideas about how to get into the marketplace feels pretty amazing. We have some unique marketing ideas that we think people will have fun with.
Life doesn't get calmer when the money comes in; it gets busier; a hell of a lot busier. This isn't about working 14-16-20 hour days anymore. This is about hiring the right people because we can't keep doing it every day as we continue to grow.
The biggest part of this for me personally was the validation I felt upon closing the deal. This was a long project (raising money) and it took a lot out of me personally. Finishing this deal gave me a lot of momentum and energized me in a big way to keep driving forward.
What was your experience like to seek investors for your startup?
Raising money is the hardest sale I've ever made. One day I decided that selling my first company was a good choice and pursuing Dwolla full-time was something I felt compelled to do. There has been a lot of kickback in my personal life about whether or not that was the right choice to make. When I decided to stop attending college to build my last company [Elemental Designs] the feedback from my family/close friends was almost identical to the [feedback] I got when deciding to exit Elemental Designs and pursue Dwolla.
Obviously building companies isn't something that always inspires a lot of faith from others on the front end. :) It's no secret that building companies isn't easy on the people [around you] and this project has been no exception. I'm fortunate to be surrounded by people who keep my head up on the bad days and allow me to pursue the ideas that move my project forward. I'm a very lucky guy..."
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