2017 INC. 5000 RANK: 2871
HEADQUARTERS: New York City, NY
YEAR FOUNDED: 2009
2016 REVENUE: $41.8 Million
Gallup says confident entrepreneurs know themselves, present themselves effectively, take initiative, and have conviction in their ability to build businesses.
Jason Albanese never doubted his ability to start and expand a company. In his family, doing so was something of a tradition. Albanese grew up around a 70-year-old family business, started by his maternal grandfather and later helmed by his father. His uncle, too, launched and ran a growth company.
"I was raised to be fearless," says Albanese, founder and CEO of Centric Digital, a digital strategy and management consulting company in New York City. "My grandfather used to sit me down and say to me, 'Jason, the world is your oyster, and you can make of it what you want.' Looking at my family, I thought, 'I can do this.' "
But Albanese wasn't cocky. He knew he needed a solid intellectual base for his pursuits. So he studied economics, analytics, statistics, and technology. He also read every book he could find about great entrepreneurs.
Just a year out of college, at age 23, Albanese started his first business, dispensing technology advice to midsize and large companies. Among his early clients were Toys "R" Us and Kids "R" Us. Albanese acknowledges the precocity of selling his expertise to companies that, not much more than a decade earlier, would have considered him a target customer. "I had a genuine understanding of technology," he says. "That gave me the blind nerve to go into these places and say, 'I can help you.' "
Albanese refers to his personal style as "very professional aggression." He is resolute when disagreeing with customers about what is necessary. "We have to sit down with them and be slightly professionally confrontational and say, 'If you go down this road, it is going to be harmful for your business.' We are so confident about it that we are going to tell you that to your face, even if it can be off-putting to a few individuals," says Albanese.
It's been two years since Albanese engaged in servicing clients; these days he oversees Centric Digitals's vision and strategy. "My passion is scaling an organization, and my ambition is to have a business that runs without my working there every day," he says.