Billing system vow: no surprises
A weekly column profiling companies and personalities. This week:
What: Gravity Payments, Seattle
Who: Dan Price, 24, CEO and founder
Mission: Provide an efficient and inexpensive way for small businesses to process credit-card payments.
Clearing the air: Price said small businesses are victims of what he calls a "cellphone model," where unexpected surcharges turn an estimated $40 bill into $70. He offers customers a transparent billing system, where they understand the exact transaction amount. "Small businesses know they are paying way too much," he said. "But there are lots of hidden fees and they have no local support. We let them know exactly how much they are paying."
Financials: Price said the private, self-financed company is profitable and is growing 100 percent every year since it was founded in 2004. Revenue comes from its cut, an average of 30 cents for every $100 processed.
Pre-emptive act: Many young rock musicians suffer a moment of truth, facing the reality the guitar is all right, but they will never make a living at it. Price came to that conclusion on his own, at 16. "After breaking up the band, I was having a midlife crisis, in the middle of high school," he said. "I became interested in small business, and saw how it wasn't getting a fair shake. I wanted to give them a competitive advantage."
Hit seeker: Price identifies at least one similarity between business and music. "It's not always the best songs and the best bands who succeed, but those who connect with the audience," he said.
Glass full: Price predicts the company will be solvent for the next 25 years. He admits this is an odd prophecy for a 24-year-old to make, but points out that the company loses less than 5 percent of customers each year, those who fail to renew. The industry average, he said, is 25 percent.
Long view: "What I love about living here is how the locally owned small businesses have a neighborhood feel," he said. "I want to be part of that growth."
— Charles Bermant
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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