Startup Interview with Brady Harris, CEO, Dwolla, Inc. by@bradyharris

Startup Interview with Brady Harris, CEO, Dwolla, Inc.

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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I have been in the payments and fintech industry for more than 20 years, and as the CEO of Dwolla, my goal is to make programmable payments the standard for any industry.

Prior to Dwolla, I was the President of Payscape, a nationwide FinTech/SaaS provider that offers dynamic payment solutions. There I oversaw more than 1,000 employees between 13 global offices. I played a key role in the merger between Payscape and Payroc, creating a full-service payment powerhouse that operates in 46 countries, to 60,000+ businesses with over $25 billion in annual payment volume.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Dwolla, Inc. is an Iowa-based fintech company helping innovative organizations digitally transform their payments. Dwolla’s modern payment platform and low-code API simplifies the complex process of integrating with the various payment networks.

What is the origin story?

Dwolla was founded in 2008 by Ben Milne who now serves on the Dwolla Board of Directors. When founded, Dwolla frontiered mobile payments, allowing businesses and consumers to move money from their bank to friends and family with ease.

As the market evolved, so did the Dwolla strategy, pivoting its software offering to offer businesses an easier way to access the US banking infrastructure to send or receive money, rather than selling to individual consumers.

Today, businesses across 18 different market verticals are using Dwolla to facilitate the movement of billions of dollars with a flexible, reliable and easy-to-use payments platform. We’ve made an incredibly complex process of navigating the various payment networks and regulations feel simple for our customers and their end-users.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

Dwolla is built by employees that are passionate and committed to fundamentally changing the way the world moves money. Our mission to “enable innovators” is evident in all the work being done, day in and day out. It’s the startup, the entrepreneur, the people that are risking it all to see their dreams come true that motivates us. Our people are our secret weapon.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

Farming, fishing, snorkeling and surfing in Tonga or Fiji! I’ve always been drawn to the “simple life” with minimal possessions and where your life is focused on relationships and experiences.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

Professionally, it’s seeing those I work with be successful. I take so much pride in seeing my co-workers achieve something great, build their confidence, develop leadership skills and create lifestyles that benefit their families. My life’s core metrics are measured by how many people will ultimately say their life was better or enriched because of our relationship.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

Within the past year, Dwolla has seen immense growth, validating the need for a modern payments platform in this modern world. Most recently we raised $21M in funding to expand our team, platform and offerings to meet the needs of our customers and the industry. We rolled out new low-code components to help reduce a payments integration by thousands of lines of code to dramatically shorten the time to value for developers without technical experience. Another game-changing offering in 2021 was the launch of our Real-Time Payments solution, allowing users to send and receive payments to a bank account within seconds. We are excited for the growing traction of Dwolla, but also how we are able to collaborate with forward-thinking innovators to make real-time payments and other offerings easily accessible to businesses of all sizes.

Dwolla has seen an 80% increase in transaction volume since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, trending to exceed $30 billion in 2021. These expanded volumes come with a growing customer base that onboarded nearly 3 million end users through the first half of 2021 to the Dwolla Platform, emphasizing the need for a digital payment solution that can meet the operational needs of modern enterprises and their customers. With this traction comes the opportunity to help our customers transform and scale their businesses as well. It is exciting to see the work we are doing is helping others to bring more innovation to the table.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

The chasm between card and ACH payment rails has always been distinct and wide. I’m most passionate about lessening the gap, and bringing ACH functionality to life that has previously been a limitation for that modality (like transfer speed). As we enable the world to move money faster, and in more programmatic ways, we’re supporting the interconnectedness of the world.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

HackerNoon is a one-of-a-kind publication that hosts content from other tech leaders and professionals. This platform shares valuable insight for supporting start-ups to scale-ups and beyond.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

Focus on bringing value to others, value to your employer, and the rest will take care of itself. If you are the best in your current role, the money and opportunities will always follow. Personally, I would tell myself to see the end in mind, be more deliberate around what I hope to accomplish (in and out of work) and make sure my efforts are aligned with that personal vision. I.e., Don’t be distracted by things that don’t matter or don’t contribute to what matters most!

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

That imposter syndrome is a real thing! As I’ve gotten to know myself better, and have built meaningful relationships with other CEOs and successful entrepreneurs, it’s that we all grapple with feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough. All of us tend to compare who we are and our lives to the highlight reels of others. I’ve increasingly learned that my happiness isn’t derived from status, title, income or the size of my home. It’s based on how closely your life is aligned with your core values.


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