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Why Ashton Kutcher Invested in Dwolla [VIDEO]

Dwolla Kutcher

Today, Ashton Kutcher revealed that his firm, A-Grade Investments, was part of Dwolla’s $5 million series B round led by Union Square Ventures.

Dwolla is a credit-card-less payment platform that lets you transfer money to friends or merchants. Founder Ben Milne shared his journey from college dropout to payment innovator at our 2012 SXSW StartupLife Celebration.

Kutcher’s firm, A-Grade Investments, does angel, seed, and series A-B funding in consumer-facing startups. His portfolio includes Foursquare, Airbnb, Hipmunk, Fab, and Spotify.

Here are some highlights from today’s Silicon Prairie News video:

“I invest in companies that I think solve problems, that are disruptive, and that help people,” said Kutcher. One problem he saw was the credit crisis, also the impetus for Occupy Wall Street. “It’s all fine to carry a post and complain about it and tell a CEO you should be getting paid less, but who’s actually doing something to solve that problem?”

(Hint: it’s Dwolla.)

“Listen, it’s pretty frickin’ cool. So you walk into a coffee shop and you hit a button and all of the sudden this exchange takes place. Well that’s pretty damn cool,” Kutcher said.

Why did Dwolla choose Kutcher?

“Let’s be just honest … when your name shows up on a list, it sticks out,” Ben Milne said to Kutcher. “Ashton is absolutely brilliant on product. There are changes that seem very obvious to you [Ashton] that don’t seem obvious to me.”

Later, Kutcher responded:

“It’s really similar to being an actor … I break down a product the same way I would break down a character I was going to play and try to get inside of the mind of that person – the user, the consumer – and figure out why they’re doing something and what they want from it … and what’s the path of least resistance to actually get them to their end goal.”

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About the Author

Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact kira@tech.co.

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