by Drew Housman
March 21, 2019

It’s easy to overlook pricing as a business optimization tool. How much can it really matter?

A lot, according to Price f(x) lead investor and consulting giant, Bain and Company. “For most companies, pricing is the single most effective lever to boost earnings,” said Ron Kermisch, Bain and Company’s global pricing leader. 

By helping their clients analyze and optimize their pricing, Price f(x) helps ensure that their clients never leave money on the table and, in order to bring its flexible pricing product to market, the company relies on their dynamic and innovative team. We spoke to three leaders at the company to learn more. 

 

price fx office
photography by Allison Williams
price fx office
photography by Allison Williams
pricefx logo
photography by Allison Williams

 

FOUNDED: 2011

EMPLOYEES: 200; 30 locally

WHAT THEY DO: Price f(x) provides cloud-based price management and CPQ software. They help B2B and B2C companies maximize margins, provide optimal pricing and win deals quicker.  

WHERE THEY DO IT: Chicago

EURO TRIP: Every year, the entire Price f(x) team gathers in Prague to celebrate the company's birthday.

 

price fx office

price fx office

 

Steven Cuypers, VP of Product Strategy

Steven is responsible for creating his team, setting clear goals and making sure everyone on the team can work efficiently. Currently, his team is building templates that make their solution even faster to deploy and provide an even shorter time to market. 

GONE FISHIN’ (AND BIKIN’): Steven likes getting up early to try and catch fish out of Lake Michigan. He also enjoys biking and, as a certified mechanic, he likes working on bikes, too. 

 

How much has the company grown since you started? What has that been like?

Price f(x) has grown from 10 people when I started to over 200 today. We’ve also gone from a self-funded, cash-strapped startup to a VC-backed, growth-oriented company. This brings a strong need for transformation, hiring the right people and adjusting the management structure where and when necessary. 

I'm very proud of the fact that we have been able to keep the “family” feeling, where there is a lot of respect and a strong willingness to help each other out. Such strong growth also gives opportunities to those willing to step up, as many of us at Price f(x), including myself, can testify.

 

Building a culture is key to making sure people feel valued at work. How would you describe the team culture at Price f(x)?

We try not to stress each other out, and we pay attention to everyone’s well-being. Also, communication is very important, especially for my team ― we are dispersed over three continents and time zones. It’s important to explain what we are working on and where we stand, as we rely on other teams to help deliver the final solution.

 

I'm very proud of the fact that we have been able to keep the 'family' feeling, where there is a lot of respect and a strong willingness to help each other out. ” 

 

How do you find out what your customers want from your products and then implement those wants into future products?

The entire platform was built based on the idea that there'd be intense cooperation with our customers — starting right from the selling phase — where we challenge them to challenge us. Our customer success team holds the connection with our existing customers and gathers requirements and trends from the field. Then, our product engineering team addresses these challenges and solves them in a way that provides a solution for the problem and provides value to all our current and future customers.

 

price fx

price fx office

 

Christian Tratz, Chief Technology Officer and Co-Founder

Chris may have a C-suite title, but he really considers himself “Chief Code Monkey.” He’s responsible for anything related to the engineering and IT security aspects of Price f(x)’s software and service components. 

BAVARIAN BREWS: Chris is a native Bavarian — the original home of Oktoberfest — so it just makes sense that he brews craft beer with his friends. One batch even made it to the current Bavarian prime minister for drinking. 

 

What about Price f(x) inspires you?

Price f(x) was created out of frustration over how complex seemingly simple tasks were sometimes with the software solutions available back then. So, we set off to create a software that makes no assumptions where possible and is there to help you solve the problems — not create problems. 

“Flexibility” is the word we use when we have to describe the company and the software. Our software spurs some very creative minds out there to find very smart solutions to their problems, and that’s very inspiring — and sometimes awe-inspiring — for an engineer to see their product used in many ways they couldn’t even dream of.

 

Speaking of solutions, how does your team innovate? What's the process like for suggesting iterations or new ideas? 

Everyone can suggest enhancements, ideally based on a concrete use case. Some people in the past even went the extra mile and started a pet project themselves, which evolved ― with the direct and unbureaucratic help of engineering where necessary ― into an essential tool for many others. 

A good example is the IntelliJ IDEA plugin, now known as the Price f(x) Studio. This tool allows comfortable pricing logic editing with full code completion, step-by-step debugging, Git integration and many more.
 

Our software spurs some very creative minds out there to find very smart solutions to their problems, and that’s very inspiring.” 


It sounds like you’d need a robust tech stack to drive all that innovation. What does your stack consist of?

As Price f(x) is a standard software, the tech stack is not driven by projects but rather evolves over time as needed. The basic languages we use are Java and Javascript; the main third-party components are Apache, HAProxy, PostgreSQL, MariaDB and Redis; and those pair together with some platform parts ranging from an ELK stack, Prometheus, SaltStack and some Node.JS apps, all running on Debian. 

The choice of all of these parts was driven mainly by three factors: fit for purpose, maturity and ease of operation. For the first two aspects, you typically find yourself with many options to choose from, but the last one really quite often moves the needle.

 

pricefx team

price fx office

 

Nandi Bugg, Solutions Engineer 

Nandi communicates with customers regarding their pricing requirements and implements solutions accordingly.  Mainly, this involves writing logic to create quotes and price lists.

INTO THE RING: Nandi trains in the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga. This helps her to take a punch and keep going, both metaphorically and in real life. 

 

What are your goals for your team?

Company-wise, we're aiming to be the top SaaS pricing solution. To achieve that, the engineering team needs to work in a more efficient manner, which is one of my goals for the team. 

This is especially crucial as Price f(x) rapidly grows its customer base, which means more project work. We're going about this by adding more structure around the code with tools like Gitflow and Jenkins.

 

Tell us about a project or challenge you’re working on.

For one customer, I am working on a project called price realization. This process gives the customer an in-depth view of current and prior year sales. Traditionally, the process was carried out in a huge Excel workbook with at least 10 sheets, but now the customer merely has to upload the data with Price f(x). 
 

The Price f(x) engineering team is very responsive, collaborative and good at seeing the big picture.”


What’s your favorite part about the culture on the engineering team?

The Price f(x) engineering team is very responsive, collaborative and good at seeing the big picture.

I once had trouble with a method in the REST API that I wanted to use to populate a table and, when I asked for help in one of our chat groups, I got five simultaneous responses. They helped me decide that it was a better design decision to store the data elsewhere.

 

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