Yaron Samid – CEO and Founder of BillGuard

[quote style=”boxed”]Embracing failure as an unparalleled opportunity to learn, grow and get one step closer to your goals.[/quote]

Yaron Samid is the founder and CEO of BillGuard, a personal finance security company named “2011 Big-Data Startup of the Year” by O’Reilly Media and “2011 Top Startup of the Year Runner-up” by TechCrunch. BillGuard harnesses the collective knowledge of millions of consumers to protect credit cards from unfair, erroneous and fraudulent charges. Yaron previously co-founded Pando and DeskSite, two profitable Internet companies servicing more than 50M users worldwide. A consumer UX expert, his last real jobs were leading product management and marketing teams at Zend, BackWeb and Register.com.  Following a personal passion to give back to the startup community, Yaron founded and runs TechAviv and NYVideo.org, two grassroots founder clubs powered by 3,000+ startup founders in New York, Silicon Valley, Boston and Israel.

What are you working on right now?

I’m facilitating a remarkable team of big-data scientists, mathematicians, analysts, security gurus and millions of consumers in a collective effort to protect us all from unfair, erroneous and fraudulent charges on our bills. BillGuard is a personal finance security service that protects your credit card bills from hidden charges, billing errors, misleading subscriptions, scams and fraud. We employ a unique combination of crowdsourcing and advanced data-mining algorithms to scan your card activity daily and alert you when your attention is required. In only our first two months of beta testing we’ve saved our users more than a quarter million dollars.

What does your typical day look like?

In my life, there’s no such thing as a typical day. When I try for consistency, it usually begins with my family.  I do the early morning shift with my son Itai (9mos) and then take my son Yoav (4 yrs) to daycare. I’m at the office by 9:30 a.m. and then spend way too much time fighting my inbox. It’s a very dynamic time for BillGuard and I’m juggling product management at our Israel R&D office and frequent travel to New York and Silicon Valley for our business and market development. I try to get home before 8 p.m. every night for dinner and to put the boys to bed. My wife Orly and I have downtime before she goes to bed and I spend a couple more hours playing Bill Guardian.

3 trends that excite you?

  • Crowdsourcing is booming and it’s disrupting information, education, finance, design, employment, government and much more. At BillGuard we’re seeing amazing results by simply empowering people to “mark as …” a bad charge on their bill the same way they would a spam email in their inbox.
  • Web 3.0: The data-centric web is fusing together historically silo’d, unstructured datasets to unlock tremendous value for consumers. We’re using these methodologies and partnerships to save consumers potentially billions of dollars.
  • Internet-powered democracy. We’re living through one of the most exciting times in civilized history. “People-power” has taken on a whole new meaning thanks to the global ubiquity of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. There’s a tectonic shift in power from governments and society’s elite to self-organizing masses and that’s unbelievably exciting.

How do you bring ideas to life?

The 3L’s of startups: Listening and learning are the first, and most critical, steps to innovating new ideas. After that, launch, early and often. Get a prototype into the hands of your target users and they’ll help you mold your idea into reality. As a CEO I hope to hire and inspire brilliant, creative, capable people and help them execute on bringing our ideas to life, at scale. That’s the hardest part by far.

What inspires you?

People who dare to chase their dreams. Startup founders and their stories are inspiring to me, particularly those that are trying to make the world a better place. TechAviv and NYVideo.org are my playgrounds for inspiration.

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

Bringing in a high-profile CEO to run one of my companies too early on. Founders are the soul of a company. Their passion and vision drive product direction and excellence. If you’re young, you need to surround yourself with people who have been there before, but giving away control of your company is a disservice to everyone involved.

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

The publisher-commenter format of blogging needs an evolution. Some of the greatest content created by man is actually conversations between two or more people. Business idea: create a blogging platform that easily publishes email/IM/video conversations between people in a structured format. Anyone could invite anyone to a public discussion/debate. Call it Diablogs.

What do you read every day? Why?

I read email everyday J. I get 100+ emails daily and find myself fighting my inbox throughout the day. That and running a young company and young family takes the lion share of my days. I do try to read Techmeme daily for relevant tech/startup stories across the web. I also love AVC.com, cdixon.org, TechCrunch and Hacker News.

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

The Four Steps to Epiphany by Steven Blank.

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

Favorite gadget: iPhone. Favorite app: Boxcar

Who would you love to see interviewed on IdeaMensch?

Yaron Galai, CEO of Outbrain.

What’s the secret to success as an entrepreneur?

Embracing failure as an unparalleled opportunity to learn, grow and get one step closer to your goals.

What’s the meaning of life?

To ask and live the question with the naïve curiosity of your kids and the wisdom of your parents.

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[box size=”small” border=”full”]This interview was brought to you by Rohit Jain who works in business development. You can follow Rohit via his blog and on Twitter. [/box]