Dan Price said it was weird to see his face smiling from covers of Entrepreneur magazine at airport newsstands when he flew into Boise from Seattle on Monday.
Price, 30, received the magazine's top yearly award for his work as CEO of Seattle-based Gravity Payments, a credit card payment processing company he founded at age 19 with his brother, Lucas Price. The company has grown to 102 employees working in 13 markets. It will process $6 billion in transactions and end the year at around $15 million in revenue.
Price and his five siblings received a heavy dose of their father's business mentality. Ron Price is a well-known consultant and speaker whose 2013 book on business leadership, "The Complete Leader," will soon have a second print run, he said.
Dan and Ron Price met with the Statesman this week to talk about Dan's unexpected cover appearance and career.
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Responses are edited for length and clarity.
Q: What's it like seeing yourself on the cover of a magazine?
Dan Price: Definitely weird. I will have to buy one at some point.
I haven't read the article. Hopefully it says something good. Everything I'd heard was it wasn't coming out until Dec. 23. Somebody tagged me on a Facebook post of a picture of the magazine at an airport newsstand. I had no idea I was even on the cover.
Q: Ron, what's your take on Dan's cover?
Ron Price: Not every parent has the luxury of seeing their child on the cover of a magazine fully clothed. This is a real treat.
Q: Dan went into business in high school and started a company at 19. Ron, what do you remember about Dan's earliest forays into business?
Ron: We joke now about how, when he was 9, he did a radio commercial. His brother had a make-your-own baseball trading card business. Dan made a radio commercial selling his brother's trading cards. I can still remember the first line: "Hi. I'm Dan Price. I'd like to tell you about my brother's business, Personality Plus." This was played on one of the less expensive radio stations.
Q: Dan, what early business memories do you have about your dad?
Dan: I think I was 9 when I got to go to Taiwan with you. My big moment was I got to advance the slides during presentations. I had the slide cues memorized, but if you wanted to alter it, you'd give me different cues. I thought you gave me cues to skip two slides, but you were just naturally gesturing. I remember apologizing to you. It was a much bigger deal to me than it was to you. You told me I'd done great. I don't know if I ever told you, but I stayed up crying a little bit when I went to bed.
Ron: Dan always had a natural competitiveness. He played football in high school. He didn't weigh much, but he wanted to play on the line so he could take on somebody who weighed twice as much. He carried that same mindset into business.
Q: Dan, did your siblings also catch the business bug?
Dan: Jesse, my oldest brother, founded a consulting firm in Shanghai, where he lived for 14 years. He sold the firm to global recruiting and consulting agency Spencer Stuart, and he moved to New York to work there. He consults with Fortune 500 companies. The next oldest, Lucas, is still a board member and shareholder of Gravity Payments and now works as senior vice president of business development at Zipwhip, which does land-line texting. Nicholas makes fine art prints for artist Chuck Close in New York. My youngest brother, Alex, leads the finance team at Gravity.
Q: Ron, what kind of reaction to the cover have you received from Idaho friends and family?
Ron: I use LinkedIn for business relationships and Facebook for my friends. I posted the cover on Facebook, saying, "I don't know if this is real." That first night it got about 250 likes and 50 or 60 comments. I've never had that much reaction. It was an outpouring of congratulations. It was moving to me to see how many people enjoy congratulating somebody.
Q: Many entrepreneurs fail many times before they find the business model that works. Dan, do you take success for granted since you never went through those failures?
Dan: I've had failures. There were dark days. When the recession hit, we lost 20 percent of our revenue in the last two weeks of 2008. We were a few months away from having to make some really difficult decisions. I was proud because we didn't have to do any layoffs or raise prices, which is how our competitors made it through. But I imagined the company going under every day. I'd sit in bed and think about everybody who was working with me and what jobs they could get. I was thinking about our clients, and how we could give them the softest landing possible. I was thinking about who could be laid off. It was something I emotionally accepted as a reality.
Q: What does winning this award mean to you?
Dan: We're nowhere near our potential. We have a long way to go. We're trying to make an industry that is evil a little bit less evil. But I'd rather make it good.
Zach Kyle: 377-6464, Twitter: @IDS_zachkyle