Dan Holt has always loved running businesses.
It began when he was 8 years old and he was responsible for delivering 550 newspapers on 10 routes throughout the Sacramento area. Holt knew he couldn't deliver them all by himself, so he enlisted friends and neighborhood kids to help.
"I had so much money 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 bank technology providers, and BillGO, a real-time bill management and payment platform that aims to give people an opportunity for financial well-being by giving them a one-stop shop for their bill payments.
Holt is one of eight honorees who will receive a Governor's Citizenship Medal during a ceremony this month. He and his co-founder, Kelly Seidl, will be honored with the Growth and Innovation Medal that is given 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, chief marketing officer at BillGO, said Holt's leadership and ability to bring people together are among the reasons why the company has had so much success.
"He's vey genuine, very personable and very transparent," Keegan said. "Transparency is really key as a leader, especially when you're growing a company 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, that the company can achieve any goal," Seidl said.
Holt said he has always had leadership skills, but credits his time in the U.S. Air Force for teaching him how to be a true leader.
"The military does a great job at teaching you how to be a better leader," Holt said. "They force you through the process a bit and they teach you the importance of leadership by putting structure and process into place. And it really translates everywhere in life and not just the military."
When Holt was in officer training school, the drill sergeants put him and his campmates into groups and told them to do a course. No one was successful on the first try, but after implementing a structure and chain of leadership, every team saw success, he said.
Holt served in the Air Force between 1991 and 1998. He began HEIT in 2003 in Silicon Valley and relocated the company to Colorado in 2005.
Six years later, Holt sold HEIT and began figuring out what his next business would be. In 2015, BillGO launched and now serves over 8,000 financial institutions and 32 million consumers, according to the company's website.
"We put some concepts together where people can pay their bills instantaneously and they can choose the way they want to pay. And that gives people intelligence that actually helps improve their financial lives," Holt said of BillGO. "If we can help people better manage and pay their bills, that improves their credit. And by improving their credit, we improve their financial access."
Outside of running a business, Holt snowboards, snowmobiles, backpacks and spends as much time with his family as he can, 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 growth for me, too," he said. "I live vicariously through other people, so if I watch other people grow then it's empowering to me."
To Holt, being recognized by Gov. Jared Polis wasn't a solo victory, but a team victory.
"I'm not the one who's doing it all. It's the team of 300 people," he said. "It's our award."