A veteran Silicon Valley entrepreneur, Ben was appointed CEO of Wanderful Media to spearhead the media industry’s major effort to extend its considerable national reach for retail advertisers to the digital realm. Wanderful Media owns and operates Find&Save, a comprehensive collection of local sales available on FindnSave.com, mobile and tablet apps, and on the shopping tab of newspaper sites across the country.
How did you get into the tech industry?
I went to undergrad at UC Davis thinking I was going to go build cars for a living. I have been working on rebuilding cars since before I could drive. Towards my senior year I took a graduate class in the design from Dr. Bahram Ravani and ended up working with him on a robotics project for CalTrans to replace the reflectors on freeways. IBM called him and asked him about great students and he recommended me. A few months later, I was working on the 3390 of IBM disk drives in San Jose. I bought my first Mac with paychecks from IBM to do analysis and hid it at night in my IBM lab so security would not know I was using a Mac.
Tell us about Wanderful Media. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?
New media companies came to me about the reinventing the printed circular industry and bringing these deals to the digital world. My vision was that the super computer in your pocket that always knows where you are could create new opportunity to bring deals to consumers, and consumers into retail locations in ways that could be performance tracked.
What strategic partnerships/marketing strategies have you implemented that have attributed to Wanderful Media's success?
We brought 12 large media companies representing hundreds of newspapers into the company as investors and distribution partners. The partners and their commitment have been a key part of giving us the opportunity to pursue the vision of bringing consumers the right deal at the right time.
What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?
We are leveraging the continued improvement of location aware mobile devices to be able to bring you deals as you walk into a retailer. This could not have been done technically 5 years ago.
Wanderful Media's Motto?
Get Sh*t Done.
Your greatest success as CEO of Wanderful Media? Most difficult moment-how did you overcome and what did you learn?
Building a great team who is committed to innovation and taking risk.
Your advice to an aspiring entrepreneur?
It is all about timing, but you can control timing by being persistent until the timing is right. If you run out of cash, you can’t be persistent. Never run out of cash.
How do you motivate your employees?
We rally around a common set of data and analysis and work together to move forward on a common set of metrics we all understand,
One food and drink left on earth, what would you choose?
T-bone and Pepsi.
What literature is on your bed stand?
A book on President Wilson by Scott Berg.
Role model - business and personal?
George W. Bush: “I understand everybody in this country doesn't agree with the decisions I've made. And I made some tough decisions. But people know where I stand.”
College Football. Roll Tide.
Most interesting headline you've read this week?
NY Times: Police Face a Long and Complex Task to Mend Distrust Deepened by Killings
What's next for Wanderful Media?
Finding a path to delivering millions of dollars of cash deals to customers every week.
Watch the video on how it works here! - click.
Prior to Wanderful Media, Ben was the president of Reply! Media after selling a profitable MerchantCircle to Reply! for a significant return in 2011. Ben was co-founder and CEO of MerchantCircle, where he built the largest network of local businesses on the web and one of the fastest growing local advertising networks. Ben was the SVP of Corporate Development at Borland through four acquisitions, and was the CEO of the $75MM CodeGear (originally a division of Borland), for which he led the separation and startup.
Ben was also the chairman and CEO at Spoke.com where he remains on the board of directors. Before Spoke, Ben served the White House as the Senior Advisor for Strategy and Planning, to the Secretary of Transportation for the period of creating the Transportation Security Administration after 9-11. Early career experience includes employment as an engineer at IBM. Ben then worked in management consulting at Ernst & Young before moving to A.T. Kearney, where he helped lead their Technology practice, as well as their Venture Investment Group alongside EDS. He became one of the youngest partners in the history of the firm and was selected as one of the 25 most influential consultants in the world in 2002.
Ben serves on numerous boards of technology and digital ventures in Silicon Valley, including mobile companies such as Glu Mobile. Ben is also a venture partner at Accelerator Ventures. As a venture partner, and through other investments, Ben has been involved in more than 40 venture investments. Ben holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Davis and an MBA from Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business.