Startups Are Successful…Right Here At Home


It’s starting to feel like Groundhog’s Day around here.  First the Iowa Supreme Court overruling Mitchell County in their case against Matthew Zimmerman, and today another update on a blog post from last year. 

Last year, I wrote that the “dumbest guy in the room” is really the smartest guy in the room. 


Because he didn’t follow the script.  He followed his passion and his skills. 

Let’s read about what this guy and his company are currently doing. 

Ben Milne

Ben Milne and the gang at Dwolla have been busy.  Actually, busy is an understatement.  Dwolla is a payment network that acts like a debit or credit card, but you use your phone to pay for stuff like that peppermint mocha latte, or a regular green tea at a local vendor. 

What they have done over the past year is nothing to sneeze at, if you are “flying over” our fair state.  Over the past week, Milne was named to the Business Record’s 2012 Forty Under 40 class (more on that later this week), and Tuesday morning, Dwolla announced that their Series B funding cycle concluded by landing new investors…and raising $5 million dollars.  The list of the new investors are pretty solid.  It includes Paige Craig, and Marc Ecko.

Yep, that Marc Ecko

That’s how Dwolla rolls.  For that matter, the startup community here in Iowa is in its early stages of “beast mode”, as today’s teenagers term it.  I’ll put it this way:  angel investors, sooner or later, will have to realize that asking a startup to move to Silicon Valley or New York City is not the mandatory option anymore. 

Between Omaha, Kansas City, Des Moines, and with new startups growing in Cedar Falls and Cedar Rapids, the Silicon Prairie is here to stay.  Starting a company, nurturing it, and growing it in our backyard is more than a sense of pride.  It offers the realistic opportunity that a creative community can grow anywhere, even in Flyover Country.  Silicon Prairie is here to foster a new era of entrepreneurship, ideas, and shape them into extraordinary things. 

Silicon Prairie wouldn't be what it is, if not for startups like the Dwolla Team. Welcome to the New World Order of startups.

Why would Dwolla, Zaarly, Tikly, or Meidh have to leave Iowa or Nebraska and move  out west to land an angel investor?  For Ben, Jordan, Charise, Kate, and the gang at Dwolla, they are at home…here in Iowa.  They believe that you can be successful here in Iowa and Des Moines. 

It’s the Midwest’s turn to shatter the glass ceiling of successful startups.  The mere thought that anyone, or any investor, wanting companies like Syncbak or T8 Webware to pull up stakes is barking up the wrong tree.  It’s time for some investors to consider how important startups are to a community and a region. 

Dwolla is Iowa-created, Iowa-born, and Iowa-made.  That means something to the people I know who are creating, building, and turning their ideas into reality.  They shouldn’t have to leave home to find success.  There is support here.  There are people who believe in them. 

It’s all here in Des Moines, Iowa, and in the Midwest. 

Silicon Prairie is here to stay.

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