After ~4 months on sabbatical I returned to work at Dwolla this week. I wasn’t sure how I would feel but I’m happy to be pleasantly sitting here Saturday morning reflecting with a smile on my face.
This week was really nice. I’m aware that my perspective has shifted after some time to think. I took enough time to myself that coming back into the company it’s easier to see what is working.
Something I’ve really come to appreciate about Dwolla is that the platform was built without perverse economics that punish companies for scaling with us. This hasn’t always been popular with the investment community because the economics of focusing on features vs. interchange is contrarian to the approach most payment companies take. It’s also a divorce from the methodologies that have turned Stripe and others into some of the most successful companies in the world. That’s not bad or at odds with them from my perspective but it is to say our approach has been different. At times it’s been hard to explain.
It was hard to explain because payment volume and the prodigious amount of end user growth is not directly correlated to Dwolla’s revenue, even if it is directly correlated for many of the companies building on the Dwolla platform. That growth is compounding but Dwolla’s costs are not in the same linear fashion. I credit much of that to a really incredible team who has staunchly (and some might say stubbornly*) stuck to the company’s values in partnership with Brady’s approach.
What was hard to explain is now just fun. I like having fun.
A different approach with enough scale is a great enabler for different or new opportunities. Different and new opportunities give rise to truly new ways of thinking or approaching a problem because the constraints that held an idea back in previous systems probably don’t in ours. The same assumptions on costs and structure in traditional systems certainly don’t.
Our approach has given Dwolla the ability to simultaneously scale in 19 different market verticals with millions of people async. What that now enables is countless new opportunities and innovations to be built.
Twice today I had the opportunity to coach founders in companies with less than 10 people on how to use the Dwolla APIs and work through integrations. One integration executed well means they just skipped ahead three years on their roadmap. The best thing about it is that there is pent up demand for their product! The platform can now be a distribution strategy and with the diversity of markets it’s being used in, market specific solutions can be built enabling niche players to find an early foothold. This company will find first customers, first revenue, and probably first backers through their leverage of the Dwolla ecosystem.
My reward system as I’ve told so many people over the years, is seeing the innovations built on our platform. The platform is finally big enough that businesses can scale incredibly quickly with others already integrated. The market is growing so quickly that cooperation is more interesting than competition with so much of the market green and wide open.
The last email I wrote had a path to $10M+ a month in revenue for a company with almost none. That was unthinkable when Dwolla began. Now it’s just the ambition of some incredibly bright engineers and the untapped power of the platform.
As I told Jami last night… Holy shit, this is awesome. It’s good to be back. I spent the last hour on Friday building an Eigenvector map and I just don’t get fired up enough to do that very often.
While I was typing this Biden was announced. I have so much hope for the future.
*stubbornly. Stubbornness can be a risk but in order to execute against an idea being misunderstood is an acceptable risk from my perspective. After all, as the saying goes “what good are your values if they are negotiable?“