Dan Holt has always enjoyed running businesses.
He started when he was 8 years old and was responsible for delivering 550 newspapers on 10 routes in the Sacramento area. Holt knew he couldn’t deliver them all by himself, so he enlisted friends and neighborhood kids to help him.
“I had so much money that it was out of control,” he said. “I was actually making more money than my parents.”
Holt’s entrepreneurial itch continues today. He is the founder of HEIT, one of the largest providers of banking technology, and of BillGO, a real-time bill payment and management platform that aims to give people an opportunity for financial wellness by providing a one-stop shop for your bill. Payments
Holt is one of eight honorees who will receive the Governor’s Medal of Citizenship during a ceremony this month. He and his co-founder, Kelly Seidl, will be honored with the Growth and Innovation Medal, which is awarded to an entrepreneur or business leader who has led with exceptional ingenuity and growth while inspiring and creating new possibilities for others.
Mary Anne Keegan, director of marketing for BillGO, said Holt’s leadership and ability to bring people together are among the reasons the company has been so successful.
“He’s very genuine, very personable and very transparent,” Keegan said. “Transparency is really key as a leader, especially when a company is growing as fast as BillGO, to make sure people are aligned and understand the direction and vision of the company.”
Seidl cited Holt’s passion and determination for the company’s success.
“He really invests in the team more than anything else and believes that (by) inspiring, motivating … a team, the company can achieve anything,” Seidl said.
Holt said he has always had leadership skills, but credits his time in the US Air Force with teaching him how to be a true leader.
“The military does a great job of teaching you how to be a better leader,” Holt said. “They push you through the process a little bit and teach you the importance of leadership by establishing structure and process. And it really translates into all parts of life and not just in the military.”
When Holt was in officer training school, the drill sergeants put him and his fellow campers into groups and told them to take a course. No one was successful on the first try, but after putting in place a structure and chain of leadership, all teams were successful, he said.
Holt served in the Air Force from 1991 to 1998. He started HEIT in 2003 in Silicon Valley and moved the company to Colorado in 2005.
Six years later, Holt sold HEIT and began thinking about his next business. In 2015, BillGO launched and now serves more than 8,000 financial institutions and 32 million consumers, according to the company’s website.
“We put together some concepts where people can pay their bills instantly and they can choose how they want to pay. And that gives people intelligence that really helps improve their financial lives,” Holt said of BillGO. “If we can help people better manage and pay their bills, that will improve their credit. And by improving their credit, we will improve their financial access.”
In addition to running a business, Holt snowboards, snowmobiles, backpacks and spends as much time as he can with his family, he said.
Holt also volunteers and mentors Colorado State University students who have an entrepreneurial itch. He said it’s important to help students because he wouldn’t be where he is today without mentors.
“A lot of people did it for me and it’s also a growth for me,” he said. “I live vicariously through other people, so if I see other people grow, that empowers me.”
For Holt, being recognized by Governor Jared Polis was not a solo victory, but a team victory.
“It’s not me doing it all. It’s the 300-person team,” he said. “It’s our prize.”