When Denver residents Beau Bergman and Brantley Pace would plan trips for themselves or with friends, often they would manage the planning through spreadsheets and use Venmo to send or receive money between their fellow travelers. Too often they found that as the trip approached and it was time to buy plane tickets or reserve hotel rooms, their friends hadn’t saved or daily expenses had gotten in their way, forcing their friends to back out, making for a less fun trip or cancelling it altogether.
The idea for Tripcents—a mobile app that rounds up purchases to automate savings for travel—originated out of these frustrations.
So Bergman and Pace joined forces with Charlie Arcodia and Jennifer McMillen to launch Tripcents in early 2018. The app connects to a user’s bank account and allows them to round up on purchases to start saving. As each user grows their own travel fund, Tripcents sends specific flight and hotel recommendations that fit within their budget and travel preferences.
With all four founders from outside the financial technology industry—and without any experience working with payment platforms—they began their search for a payments solution.
“We weren’t trying to reinvent banking,” Pace says. “We were trying to reinvent the way people save for travel. So we wanted somebody to provide us with an easy platform to handle the payments side and let us handle travel.”
Tripcents integrated with Dwolla and launched on May 10, 2018. They now have more than 4,000 monthly active users and over 12,000 downloads.
To move and save money, Tripcents CEO Brantley Pace said the company needed a payment solution that could be implemented quickly so users could start saving.
The search for that solution started towards the end of 2017 and went into early 2018. Pace says they tried to “peek behind the curtain” to see what other companies were using for a payment solution.
Pace explained that they wanted a payments partner that offered:
- Compliance and regulation requirements
- A simple API
- Easy-to-understand developer documentation
“If it required ten people, six months and legacy technology, that is not startup-conducive,” Pace said. “Especially with our small staff, we don’t have compliance officers and only one developer. We needed somebody that could help us with that and we just plug in so-to-speak.”
As they searched, Pace said they had five finalists who offered various features and plans, but were expensive and couldn’t be integrated quickly. He says they came across Plaid for banking verification which led them to Dwolla, which offers a Plaid integration.
“If it weren’t for Plaid and Dwolla, Tripcents would not have been able to get started, that’s for sure,” Pace says. “We had limited resources and limited funds. We needed something that was easy to get started and get money moving. Before we found Dwolla, we thought we needed to find a bank and that seemed like a monumental task. Then we found Dwolla, and all that was already done.
Both before and after the sale, Pace says Dwolla does a great job of providing Tripcents with a dedicated account manager and a Slack channel for a direct line of communication to Dwolla’s developers and customer success team.
“That has been super helpful and very responsive on the customer service side,” Pace says. “The way Dwolla does enterprise sales and customer support is something we haven’t seen before.”
Pace says that with other partners, Tripcents would submit a service ticket online and have to wait up to four days just to get a response.
Pace says, “With Dwolla, we can get that done in an hour.”
Bergman said moving forward, they would like to have their users be able to use the funds to purchase flights and hotels within their app.
“So they don’t have to withdraw the funds to book elsewhere and keep everything within Tripcents,” Bergman said.
But they’ve been pleased with their experience using Dwolla.
“That is going really well,” Pace says. “The Plaid integration and connection with Dwolla from a business standpoint solved so many problems. We’d of spent years building this out if there wasn’t already a solution.”