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2014. Hard* Lessons Learned

These annual posts have become a tradition for me. I’ve started to write them each year and this year I started taking notes around December 1st, my birthday, as I always do.

For reference. Here are my 2013 and 2012 posts.

This year was good.

I got married to the best human being I’ve ever met this year and we even have a baby on the way. We added a great dog to our family. I traveled as much as any year prior. The company is bigger now doing more business than it ever has.

I lead with my family because I’ve gotten much better this year at managing that equilibrium.

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Eat Your Own Dog Food

Eat Your Own Dog Food: Use the same APIs in your internally built and supported products that you sell to your customers.

This isn’t complex or even debatable. It’s just something all companies should do.


We all at one point in time, as technical people, start thinking of cool new stuff. We all consider building fiefdoms around new cool things so that we and only we can access it…

It’s a evil voice with a self fulfilling prophecy where we lose.

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Sometimes, it’s just time to go home.

I sat contemplating whether or not to write this down but I’m pretty sure typing it is the only way to really sort through it. That, and hopefully it’s a helpful reminder to other founders and also to people on my team as well.

Startups are hard. They’re hard on everyone around you. They’re hard on your friends. They’re hard on your family. They’re hard on your team.

They’re hard on you.

This has been an unbelievable few months at Dwolla.

  • We shipped a huge partnership with CME.
  • We shipped a huge partnership with BBVA.
  • We’re nowhere near done. There’s more on the way.

I’ve spent the last 2 weeks doing back to back meetings with partners, the media, and the team. It’s one of the craziest rides I’ve ever been on and the end result is going to make peoples lives better.

Yesterday, we had an opportunity to speak publicly with the Federal Reserve, Amazon,and Bank of America about realtime and an astonishing thing happened. They agreed with us.

How could this get any better!? I’m proud of that.

As a founder, this is the stuff you always want to share. It’s big, it’s fantastic, and it’s a string of things that I probably couldn’t pull off ever again if I tried. It even follows the vision for why the company was founded in the first place.

On the flip side. I haven’t had real and extended quality time at home in weeks, or longer. I missed trick-or-treating and the costumes. I spent the little time I was at home in the last few weeks either sleeping or frantically preparing to leave. We added a curious new puppy to our family and I’ve done virtually nothing to help.

I haven’t seen my sister in a year. I’ve never met my niece. I haven’t seen my parents in months. My wife and I didn’t take a honeymoon and I’ve had too much going on in my head to even read the e-mails she’s sending me about where we should go. I can’t take or make personal calls because I’m rarely alone and when I am, I seek one thing… Silence…

The last time I got into the office I was too tired to say hello to anyone and went right to my office where I fell asleep on the floor. Prior to that floor I was sleeping on another floor in an airport. Once I awoke the fairly predictable river of coffee flowed quickly into my body so I could function until the next unavoidable crash occurred.

To some of you, this probably sounds all too familiar. This life is hard on you and everyone else just the same.

It’s pretty in the press. In practice… This shit is really hard.

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Building a real-time US payment system

This was a good week for real-time payments in the United States. The Clearing House released a statement saying they would build a real-time system and the Federal Reserve is expected to ship an update any day about their plans.

We, at Dwolla, just recently signed a deal with BBVA Compass to bring real-time payments to everyone in the United States for the first time.

One of the largest banks in the world has partnered with a small Iowa company to facilitate worldwide real-time payment transactions. ~ International business times

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