Loren Bendele – CEO of Savings.com

[quote style=”boxed”]People. I like working with passionate people…making things happen, creating ideas and executing.[/quote]

Loren Bendele joined Savings.com in January 2007 as the CEO.
Prior to Savings.com Loren ran Teleflora’s Partner Marketing business, selling through key relationships including USAA, UPS, American Express, Sears, JC Penney, American Airlines, United Airlines, Continental Airlines, and other major communities.

Loren started his career with Dow Chemical, initially as a chemical engineer in Dow’s Strategic Services group.  He then joined the Dallas office of The Boston Consulting Group where he provided strategy/management consulting services for industries including airline, health care, software and telecommunications.

He has also worked as a consultant focusing on strategy, business development, fund raising, product management and M&A for companies ranging in size from emerging ventures to established companies such as Amgen, Earthlink and WeddingChannel.com.

Loren graduated with honors in chemical engineering from The University of Texas A&M.

What are you working on right now?

The evolution of Savings.com. We are striving to make the site even more useful and fun for people to get the best deals on whatever they want.

What does your typical day look like?

My days vary considerably. I have regular working sessions with the Savings.com team on the key projects but I also spend a good amount of time creating the most effective organizational structure.  We’re growing so fast that roles and responsibilities need to change and evolve with the projects and demands and that can all happen very quickly.  We work in a very dynamic space so I make it a priority each day to keep the team focused, productive and coordinated to maximize effectiveness.

3 trends that excite you?

1. Spontaneous online communities…the magic that happens when people come together to provide genuinely useful and real information to help other people.

2. Evolving mobile applications.

3. Evolution and convergence of online search and social networks.

How do you bring ideas to life?

First I have to get the idea. It might come from myself or it might come from anyone within the business. The next phase is to brainstorm and refine the idea with my key advisors at Savings.com. Once we have a framework we do customer discovery to determine if people really want it. Finally we create a prototype and get it out there so we can look to data to see what is working and what is not. This is an ongoing process; we are always working and refining ideas based on data.

What inspires you?

People. I like working with passionate people…making things happen, creating ideas and executing. I like when groups of people work well together and become more effective as a team than as individuals. This could be a basketball team or a company, whenever I see a group of people really hyper-productive and effective together, that is what inspires me.

What is one mistake you’ve made, and what did you learn from it?

Rushing to hire somebody. Sometimes you move too quickly to get someone in for an important role, but that is never the right thing to do. Making the wrong hiring decision is very costly to company culture and productivity. What I have learned is to take the time to go through an extensive recruitment process. Candidates at Savings.com meet with a lot of people, and as a team we have a working session to test chemistry, cultural fit and intellectual fit. Hiring from a couple of rounds of interviewing is like trying to get married after a couple dates. My advice is take the time to ensure a strong skills match, cultural and personal fit.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Someone needs to create a better search engine for mobile devices. So whatever you are looking for on your phone directs you right to a mobile-friendly place, whether that is an app or mobile web experience. There are efficient apps if you know what you are looking for, like a restaurant on Yelp, but sometimes you don’t know where to start. So I would say there is an opportunity for a mobile-focused search engine that points you to either the best app or the best m. site to help you quickly find what you need.

What do you read every day? Why?

Email. Whether I tend to get news and content from my employees, my network, or subscription services that I follow, I like to have it all served to me.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read, and why?

How to Win Friends and Influence People. I feel the single most important factor to success is learning how to communicate and work with people. For some reason it’s the one thing that few people study or try to get better at, and yet I think it is essential in creating change. There are very few solo endeavors and the one thing I’m always hiring for is the person that can be effective through an organization of people.

What is your favorite gadget, app or piece of software that helps you every day?

Boxee. I think it has a long way to go still, but I can totally see where they are going to make the consumption of digital content super easy. I think there is a tremendous opportunity to disrupt the digital video market.

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Avner Ronen, CEO Boxee.

What do you think the next generation should focus on to be successful?

Becoming a better leader. No matter what you want to do in life, you should focus on how to inspire people and how to get the most out of every relationship you have. Leadership is a noble art, and it takes a lot of time to get good at, so start young and make it a lifelong pursuit. If you endeavor to be a better leader, I will almost guarantee success. This also changes the definition of success; it’s not how much money you can make, but how much impact you have and what all you can create through organizations and people.

Where do you feel people can make the most difference in the world?

The K-12 education system is in dire straights, especially in the U.S.  If we don’t arm our kids with the tools for success, we’re not only failing our youth but we’re also creating liabilities that our society will have to support in some way, form or fashion.  We need to set our kids up for success so they can be contributing members to society.


Loren Bendele on Twitter – @lcbe