About Us : The Dwolla Story

Disclaimer: This entry is not meant to market to you as much as it is meant to cater to your curiosity. Simply put, I don’t believe our company is another payments company. I say that not to convince you that we are different but to share with you what I truly believe. The rest of this entry is to share with with very candidly how we got here, what we are doing, and why we are compelled to do it.


A little bit of a back-story:

This story is built largely on the relationship of two people; Shane Neuerburg and I (Ben Milne). After almost 2 years of hard work, our project is live and on the market.

Our relationship began through an interest in speakers almost a decade ago. Shane and I began to collaborate on small projects which eventually grew into larger and larger projects. We worked together quite consistently for a few years on projects for Elemental Designs.

Almost 3 years ago, Shane and I started discussing the possibility of a start up- doing something new. At the time, I was running another company, and Shane had just taken a job with a fairly large firm doing exactly what he was educated to do.

The timing was just never quite right, but eventually we brainstormed an idea that was good and ran with it.

How did the idea come up?

In my previous company we started to look at our outside costs of doing business. One of the largest was freight, and the second largest was the interchange. We didn’t think that inventing a teleporter to ship speakers was a good investment so we started considering other ways of getting paid online.

We knew the cost to accept payment online (through merchant accounts and credit/debit) cards was over $50,000 annually to our company. We started looking for ways to get paid online without paying the interchange. We couldn’t find one, so we decided to create one.

We started asking bankers and other industry folks about how money moves, how it potentially could move, and theoretically what was possible. We got compelling answers from great folks. In the end we built something that moves money, in a unique way, and is no longer a theory.

Shortly after, Shane and I spent the weekend together in Minneapolis going over ideas in his basement before laying out initial groundwork. After that things started to snowball.

The picture on the left was taken in February of 2010, just before going to tell some people about the API @ Techbrew. It was not a warm day in Iowa!

What does Dwolla mean? Where did the name come from?

The word Dwolla comes from these two words: Web and Dollar. What do you exchange? Dollars. How is it done? The web- It’s that simple.

How was Dwolla funded?

For less than $1,000 dollars Dwolla was incorporated on Legalzoom and brought to life. Shortly after, a tax return funded us for quite some time. In 2008 we needed to get money to start getting the idea off the ground. When that investment started to run low we started looking for outside capitol and shortly after received an angel investment from some Iowa angels.

What is Dwolla’s mission in life?

To maximize the value of every electronic financial transaction.

To help you understand, think about it this way: When you purchase an item in a retail world you can always pay with cash or credit. On the internet you can only pay with credit, but not anymore. Dwolla is the cash option online.

Our value proposition is pretty basic. We make the money you have more valuable.

How does Dwolla go about that mission?

By creating value in every financial exchange. Whenever you use Dwolla, the money you move remains more valuable.

  • Josh Nelson

    “We make the money you have more valuable.”
    Brand narrative GOLD! Love it!

  • mejustmeplease

    Wow, what a load of nonsense, from a scuzbucket company that fucks with people’s money.