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Meet the Xceptionalists: Ben Milne www.dwolla.com

Kevin Kelly

In my latest book, DO! The Pursuit of Xceptional Execution, I interviewed entrepreneurs from around the world. They are the leaders of some of the most compelling global brands and companies, ranging from one to 3,000 employees, with turnovers from $100,000 to $130 million. I call them the Xceptionalists. They hail from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Bologna, Italy; from Des Moines, Iowa to Galway, Ireland. They run app companies, consultancies, clinics and sprawling technology corporations.
Dwolla CEO, Ben Milne, started his entrepreneurial life with a lawn boy service. He credits this experience with teaching him the necessary aspects of good business practice.
WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND DWOLLA?
“I looked everywhere and tried everything to see how the exorbitant credit card costs in my speaker business could be mitigated. I read the early days of PayPal and ACH. Then I came up with the idea and pitched the bank. We created a working software platform and spent the next year and a half learning how to do this legally. We launched in December 2010. Since then we have made significant progress and are now bigger than many regional banks.”
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU?
“The younger I was, the more I was motivated by money. Now I love the opportunity to make an impact. You know it is the same amount of work on a potentially $1bn business or a few hundred thousand dollars turnover, so why not put yourself into the one where you can make the most difference, make people’s lives better, put some dollars back in their pockets. We are definitely going to create more value than we take out..”
TOO MUCH KNOWLEDGE IS A BAD THING – DO YOU AGREE?
“If you have enough information, you will definitely see the difficulties. You will be more inclined to stay with and justify the status quo. Remember part of doing something new is changing the information that fed into the past decision.“
HOW DO YOU ENHANCE THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE?
“Originally the idea was to create a tool that would allow for the transfer of money without any interchange fees. …. Now our focus is on allowing people to buy whatever they want as quickly as possible. Payment should be an afterthought. At the same time we want the merchant to receive the money as quickly as possible. We are still exploring how we can achieve this outcome better and faster.”
WHAT’S YOUR VISION FOR DWOLLA?
“…The overall vision is to be the global clearing house. … Now we have a plan that breaks down the following two to three years by quarters and deliverables within each in terms of all the aspects of the business. This helps in challenging us to reverse engineer to meet our targets. It also helps to make better decisions. Our investors are an excellent help at this stage as they have already walked the path of creating international businesses.”
DWOLLA TAKEAWAYS
• Live life in the now.
• Take responsibility for your failures, remember you have another shot.
• Work on a project that has maximum impact.
• The biggest deals are based around relationships.
• Have people around you that you can disagree with respectfully.
• With enough information you will be more inclined to stay with and justify the status quo.
• Business is not rocket science.
• Don’t spend more money than you earn.
• You can’t get what you want until your customers get what they want.
• Apologize when necessary.
Taken from Kevin Kelly’s new book “Do the pursuit of xceptional execution” Kevin is an internationally acclaimed leadership and motivational speaker and best selling author. For more informationwww.kevinkellyunlimited.com
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