Welcome to Atlanta Business Chronicle’s “Meet the C-Suite,” where each week we will feature one of the city’s most high profile c-level executives.
This week meet Dax Cross, co-founder and CEO of Atlanta-based Revenue Analytics.
Name: Dax Cross
Company: Revenue Analytics
Title: Chief Executive Officer
Background: Co-founded Revenue Analytics with my father and my brother over 12 years ago. Prior to that, worked as a corporate attorney for King & Spalding.
First job: Worked summers in the warehouse at a tire supply company.
Education: J.D., summa cum laude, The University of Georgia; B.A., History, Davidson College
How’s business: Business is booming. We’ve doubled in size in the last two years. We will cross $25 million in revenue this year and we now have over 100 people. At Revenue Analytics, we help big companies make their biggest revenue decisions – what to charge, what to stock, and what to promote and when. The challenge is that these decisions have millions of variables and many unknown outcomes. We bring a unique combination of people, process and battle-tested technology to eliminate those unknowns, helping our clients increase revenue without increasing risk.
Biggest challenge for your business: Marketing is a challenge for us. We work for Fortune 500 companies and generate revenue uplifts of over $100 million for many of them, but they often do not want to talk publicly about their work with us, since they view our solutions as a competitive advantage.
What’s going to change at your company in the next year: We’re going to continue to grow at a rapid rate, which creates a lot of change. 2018 will be our third straight year of over 35% growth. We will continue to invest in an infrastructure for scalable growth. We’re also investing heavily in innovative technology and sales and marketing.
Company goal yet to be achieved: Our mission is to create value and enrich lives. We achieve that mission with individual clients, our people and by giving back to the community. But, with just over 100 people in the company, we have not yet truly achieved that mission at scale.
Guiding principles for good management: I had an executive coach tell me: “Manage things, lead people.” So, we focus our “management” principles on leadership. You’ve got to show people that you’re invested in their individual success for them to invest in the company’s success. We work hard to create an energized, entrepreneurial culture where people get both the coaching and opportunity to grow and develop rapidly. That individual growth then fuels the company’s growth.
Best way to keep competitive edge: Focus on innovation and never get complacent. We are constantly pushing to innovate in analytics, technology and client service. We’re rapidly expanding our cloud analytics platform to deliver greater and greater value for clients.
Why people like working for you: Hopefully, they don’t feel like they are working “for” me, but that we are working together to build a great company that has a lasting impact. Our collaborative environment gives people the opportunity to work in tightknit teams of bright, talented people to solve incredibly complex problems. That’s a great recipe for having a lot of success… and a lot of fun.
Most inspiring entrepreneur: My dad – Bob Cross. He started a company in our living room in 1984 and grew it to over 300 people before selling it in 2000. He was one of the pioneers of the Atlanta technology community, as well as the discipline of Revenue Management. Growing up alongside that company (Talus Solutions) inspired my brother Zach and me to start Revenue Analytics. Fortunately, our dad was up for starting a new company with us!
Best business decision: Ten years into our business, we realized that our growth had plateaued. We had to reflect on the business and realized that in order to scale, we had to evolve our business model, build an infrastructure that would support rapid growth, and focus more on leadership development. It was difficult to do at the time, and we had to invest a lot of money and change a lot of things, but it transformed us into a high-energy, high-growth company.
Hardest lesson learned and how you learned it: The business world is constantly changing, and companies need to continuously evolve to thrive. A few years back, we had a multi-year run of profitable growth, and we got a bit conservative, thinking that we had figured out a formula for success. That mindset slowed our growth, and we didn’t return to strong growth until we embraced the opposite attitude – constantly looking for ways to improve and innovate.
Toughest business decision: One of the toughest decisions I had to make was changing my role to no longer serve as a client partner that worked directly on client projects to focus 100% of my time on strategies to grow our business. I enjoyed working with clients and helping them solve difficult problems, and I knew I could create value in client work. The value in the longer-term, strategic thinking was less tangible, but I committed to making the change. It turned out to be the right decision, as it has helped us drive more value for clients through growth and innovation, and more value for our people by creating more leadership opportunities.
Biggest missed opportunity: We should have thought earlier about what we needed to do to scale the company. We were under-invested in areas like Finance and Marketing for many years, and could have had an impact earlier there.
Like best about job: Growth is fun. I love getting new clients and seeing how we can help them drive revenue and reduce risk. I also love hiring new people – the influx of fresh perspectives, personalities, and ideas brings new energy to the company.
Like least about job: That’s a tough one – perhaps stress? We work hard to ensure that whatever we do is a win for our clients, our company and our people, and keeping that balance can lead to some stressful situations. I’ve gotten better at managing stress over the years though, and you can’t accomplish much if you try to avoid stress altogether!
Pet peeve: People throwing buzzwords like “big data” and “machine learning.” We’ve been deploying sophisticated analytics across massive data sets for over a decade, but it takes a thoughtful approach to understanding and solving the business problem. Those who rely on buzzwords probably don’t understand the business problem.
First choice for a new career: I’m fortunate to have been able to be a part of founding, shaping and growing a company. I honestly have no idea what I would do as an alternate career.
Most influential book:“Good to Great” by Jim Collins. Best business book I have ever read.
Favorite cause: TACA – Talk About Curing Autism. My nephew is on the autism spectrum and TACA had a profound impact in the early diagnosis and treatment of his condition to help him lead a happy, thriving life. There is still so much that we can learn about autism to create more success stories like his.
Favorite restaurant: Marcel. Pretty much everything Ford Fry does is great, but to me, Marcel is the best restaurant in town.
Favorite way to spend free time: Hanging out with my family and playing or watching sports. Tennis is my favorite sport to play.
Favorite music: I like a lot of different music. But it’s tough to beat listening to old Beatles, Stones or Van Morrison on vinyl.