KC-based Firebrand Ventures invests in Des Moines, Iowa, tech company

Dwolla Inc. CEO and founder Ben Milne works in the company’s offices.
Dwolla Inc. CEO and founder Ben Milne works in the company’s offices. Dwolla Inc.

Firebrand Ventures, a Kansas City-based investment fund, has joined with others in investing in Des Moines, Iowa-based Dwolla Inc.

The $6.85 million investment was led by Union Square Ventures and the Foundry Group. Firebrand participated along with Next Level Ventures, Ludlow Ventures, High Alpha and Detroit Venture Partners.

John Fein, Firebrand’s founder, said Dwolla was the first company he visited when he “reconnected” with startup activity in the Midwest, and he has stayed in touch, following the company’s progress.

“They’re the ones that got me really excited again to be part of the startup community,” Fein said.

For three years, Fein had been the Techstars managing director at the Sprint Accelerator in Kansas City. He launched Firebrand Ventures to invest in early-stage businesses predominately in the Midwest.

Dwolla creates applications that allow online and mobile businesses to handle bank transfers, manage customers and verify bank accounts. The company will use the proceeds to hire employees and expand its sales operations.

Firebrand also recently announced a partnership with the Regnier Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, which is part of the Henry W. Bloch School of Management at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

The partnership allows entrepreneurship scholars in the Regnier program access to potential investment by Firebrand.

Mark Davis: 816-234-4372, @mdkcstar