I stumbled on Dwolla’s website the today, they’re a Silicon Prairie startup that launched an alternate, remote, distributed payment system; effectively working with your financial institution and those you’d like to pay. 

What caught my eye wasn’t their business model, the products or the prospect that I might ditch PayPal for good. It was their value statement. Yeh, I know - value statement - kind of like a bulleted elevator speech for folks who don’t like run-on sentences. 

The five bullets were:

  • Safety: Transactions should be safe and secure.
  • Transparency: Users should always have access to their information and control of it.
  • Speed: Transactions should be as fast as possible.
  • Convenience: Our platform should be available on the devices people want to access it from.
  • Value: Transactions should retain as much value as possible. The fees should be as low as possible.

I admit to being somewhat jaded - over the years I’ve read too much of this crap and I’ve always thought that mission statements are, well, for missionaries- and not applicable to cutting-edge startups that should be focusing on product not fluff.

My attention was drawn to those five simple words - safety, transparency, speed, convenience and value - and wether they COULD form the bounding box from which all current and future product development decisions can be made. Quite simply: no feature added to the product or the business model can violate the paramters established by the value statement.

In an era of too many words this short value statement is applicable to every disruptive startup’s product development plans; perhaps yours.