3 questions with a business developer at Dwolla

Max Farrell - Business Development at Dwolla

Find Max getting coffee at Timbuktuu on the skywalk in Des Moines, grabbing drinks at The Lift downtown and Alpine Tap on Ingersoll or on Twitter.

What is Dwolla and what do you do there?

Dwolla is building a new payment network that allows any person, business, organization or government entity connected to the internet to move money as quickly, safely and at the lowest cost possible. 

We fuel transactions for just about every kind of person, business and non-profit out there, with many exciting opportunities to grow with government partners and financial institutions. 

At the end of the day, we aim to reduce as much friction from a transaction and want to have all payments moving from one place to another as close to real-time as possible.

What's the most interesting way that your work as a musician has intersected with your work at Dwolla?

The most interesting will be unveiled in the next week. I used Dwolla to crowdsource my rap music video. I found 32 people from around the world and paid them $5 each to do something crazy to my song. I found them using Fiverr (a Dwolla partner). I also paid the video editor and the producer through Dwolla.

The song is called “Goody Good” and was just released on iTunes and Spotify.

Can’t wait to share the video with you all!

You're active in your home state of Arkansas, how does their startup community and the Iowa community compare?

The startup landscapes are eerily similar in Iowa and Arkansas. Each thrives on individuals bringing the collective together (unlike SF or NYC) and have really taken off in the past few years.  My friend Jordan Carlisle and I have organized the first two Startup Weekends in the state of Arkansas (and we just facilitated the first High School Startup Weekend down there!) They’ve sent ripples that turned to waves in how people embrace entrepreneurship.

There are two key areas in Arkansas:

  • NW Arkansas - where Wal-Mart is headquartered and the U of Arkansas is located
  • Central Arkansas - where Little Rock (capital city) and several large corporations are set up

Successful startups in NW Arkansas (such as DataRank) have built around the three core industries: retail, transportation and food services. They’ve also had two accelerator classes with one coming soon.

Central Arkansas has two groups (the Innovation Hub and the Arkansas Venture Center developing space and programming for rising entrepreneurs and developing essential skills to create or grow with companies. One of the big focuses of central Arkansas is growing the scene through young people. Noble Impact is one group doing a great job here: organizing education around social entrepreneurship in a charter school and runs summer/weekend programming. This rallies educators from across the country to redevelop how they are teaching their students.

I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get a startup scene off the ground in Des Moines and been able to apply the best practices learned from my travels around the Silicon Prairie / the country to bring them back home to Arkansas and also share the insights in Iowa.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun to build in flyover country and I’m glad I get to be a piece in growing two blossoming communities.


Here's Max's video


Photo Credit: Headshot via Twitter, header photo via Facebook