As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create a Successful Service Business,” I had the pleasure of interviewing Loren Bendele, CEO of Arryved.
Loren Bendele has spent his career, building, leading and advising disruptor tech companies, such as Savings.com, Niche and Thrive Market. He’s now the CEO of Arryved, an innovative fintech company going above and beyond standard point of sale systems with thoughtful SaaS and best-in-class customer support. On the weekends, this Texas native can be found exploring the Rocky Mountains or brewery-hopping around his home in Boulder, Colo.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive into the main part of our interview, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit more. Can you share a bit of your “backstory” with us?
I grew up in a small town in Texas and studied Chemical Engineering at Texas A&M University. I worked with Dow Chemical throughout college and learned that I was more interested in business than engineering (although I loved studying math, science, engineering and physics). I was the kid in junior highi that had five jobs. My parents had a popcorn and yogurt shop and I saw they could buy blow pop candy wholesale for like 5 cents each. I thought, “I bet I could sell those at school for $1 each.” And I did. A lot of them. Until the school shut me down for jacking up all the kids on sugar. I’ve always had that entrepreneurial spirit.
After college I worked with the Boston Consulting Group. They didn’t recruit from A&M (they only recruited from Stanford, Harvard, etc) so I had to talk my way in. Fortunately they appreciated the hustle and gave me a shot. After two years of management consulting, I decided I wanted to move to LA to pursue writing for the entertainment industry, which seems like a total tangent, and believe me it did to my parents too. I learned a lot in that process, maybe more than from college, Dow or BCG, but after 5 years I didn’t really see myself making a career out of it and I gravitated back to being an entrepreneur. I worked for Roll International (now the Wonderful Company), where I learned a lot from two great entrepreneurs (Lynda and Stewart Resnick) and then left to start my own company with some great technical founders.e built Savings.com into one of the largest online promotions companies and eventually sold it to Cox Media Group. I’ve always loved building things and I’m thrilled to now be part of the team at Arryved to help build great products for hospitality artisans.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? Can you tell us the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
Three months after joining the team at Savings.com, our largest partner that drove 90% of our revenue shut us down due to some ill will with our founders. This would have been a death blow to the company, so I showed up at their office and asked to speak with the president. The receptionist called the president and gave my name, then I saw this look on her face like “oh….” The receptionist then said, “she’s in a meeting and isn’t available.” I said, “that’s ok, I’ll wait.” I sat in the lobby for 5 hours until they closed the office. I showed up the next day and did the same thing again. After 3 months of begging and pleading and ensuring them I’d be a good partner for them they agreed to work with us again. Three months later we were one of their top partners and we had a great relationship from then on.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you tell us a story about how that was relevant in your own life?
My dad grew up extremely poor, in a house with no running water. He sold bibles door-to-door to help pay his way through dental school. He would say, “every ‘no’ you get just means you’re that much closer to a ‘yes.’” He had that unstoppable attitude and he wouldn’t let a defeat stop him. He just kept going. The above story about sitting in the lobby all day for several days in a row is an example of that. Savings.com would have been dead had I accepted that our largest revenue source shut us down… but looking back at that time I truly believed that we would be a great partner for them and I never doubted that we’d win them back.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My parents were great. My mom always believed in me, supported me and pushed me too. She was tough but she always had my best interest in mind. My brother-in-law recently told me that he named his daughter (my niece) after my mom because she was the closest thing he’d ever met to a perfect person. I agree. My mom had a huge influence on me and I still look to her for advice and guidance. At 86 she’s as smart, gracious, kind and tough as they come.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I joined Arryved in May of this year. This summer I attended the Craft Beer Professionals conference and I was stopped several times by people that just wanted to tell me how much they loved Arryved. They were legitimate fans. I can say this without ego since I’m so new to the company. The founders and everyone that has been a part of building Arryved have done an amazing job of listening to customers, building great products and focusing on doing whatever it takes to serve our customers. I think this all stems from our company culture — we’ve done a great job of hiring really talented people and listening to them.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?
Our primary customers are the owners and staff of craft breweries, music venues, bars and restaurants. We’re working on solutions to help them better serve their customers and to help them develop passionate regulars. We will be releasing several new features along these lines in 2022.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I try. I donate significant time and money to public education. I benefited from a great public education and I see it as the best way to help society. I also believe that managers, leaders and employers have a massive impact. We employ people who have families and who spend a large percentage of their lives at work — that’s a massive responsibility.
Ok. Thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the main part of our interview. This may be obvious to you, but it is not intuitive to many people. Can you articulate to our readers five ways that increased diversity can help a company’s bottom line. (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Your customers are diverse. If you don’t have a diverse team you will miss out on great ideas because you won’t understand your full customer base.
- Creativity usually comes from thinking about things in different ways. Diverse opinions breed new ideas.
- People want to be part of an organization they believe in, especially younger generations. If you don’t genuinely and legitimately believe in and invest in diversity you won’t attract and inspire the best and brightest.
- We all have our prejudices. Prejudice is usually curtailed when you really get to know someone that you have a conscious or subconscious judgment against. Being around diversity makes us humble and helps us realize that our ways of thinking aren’t “the” ways of thinking. Humility helps us stay open to learning and makes us better people.
- There’s a lot of research on the most effective teams… and guess what, they are diverse! But the trick is that diversity has to be well managed to create a foundation of mutual trust and respect and learning from each other. If diversity isn’t well managed it has been shown that non-diverse teams actually perform better than diverse teams. So we have to both foster diversity and also invest in understanding, respecting and trusting each other.
What advice would you give to other business leaders to help their employees to thrive?
First make sure you have a noble purpose. People want to be part of a noble purpose.
Then, clearly define your vision and mission.
Then, make sure everyone understands why their role matters in that mission and vision.
What advice would you give to other business leaders about how to manage a large team?
Start by managing a small team — your direct reports and the executive team. Surround yourself with the best people who are smarter than you are in their fields of responsibility. Then set them up for success and help them do the same (manage their direct reports… and so on).
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this :-)
Richard Branson seems to have a great balance of achievement, giving back to the community and also having a ton of fun and joy along the way. I hope to hit all those marks in my journey and it’d be great to meet him and learn more about how he’s balanced all of that.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Honestly, I don’t post too much online. I try to focus on my team, customers, partners and family.