Innovators. They come in many forms. They dream big but they aren’t just dreamers. They form raw ideas into cool products with disruptive business models. They shatter entire industries and leave established leviathans running scared with their tails between their legs. The Innovators interview series connects you with the most driven people on the planet. What makes them tick? What advice do they have for tech founders? What tools do they use to get the job done? Read on to find out.
Greg Mazanec is General Manager of LivingSocial Takeout & Delivery, which helps make ordering food from consumers’ favorite restaurants easier and more convenient. As one of LivingSocial’s first 30 employees, Greg has been integral in evolving LivingSocial from a daily deal provider to the online source for discovering valuable local experiences and connections.
Prior to his role as General Manager, Greg held senior leadership positions within the organization as Senior Director of Inside Sales, scaling LivingSocial’s phone-based sales operations and as Director of Performance Marketing, managing customer acquisition efforts and creating LivingSocial’s strategy to attract and retain new members in the early days of the deals business.
Greg has spent much of his career in performance marketing, including positions at online marketing firm, Gratis Internet, and at ad network, SocialCash, where he helped build a business that explored the innovative advertising opportunities unique to the Facebook Platform.
Greg has a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University.
What do you enjoy most about your work and why?
Working at LivingSocial provides me the opportunity to constantly build and refine new products that touch millions of people, which I find exciting. LivingSocial offers an exceptionally entrepreneurial environment that facilitates creativity. That’s what is so great about a company like LivingSocial – good ideas and successful execution are what matter, not seniority. If the right idea comes along we’ll invest in it no matter who brought it to the table.
Where does your entrepreneurial passion come from? What drives you, inspires you, excites you?
I have always had an eye for opportunity and been interested in building things of value. For example, in college I started an online company to digitize and promote the music of unsigned bands/musicians. The consumer web provides an evolving opportunity to build things that will be used by millions of people and learn from those experiences to build even better solutions.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle also suits me; you can create a career path that, to me, is a lot more exciting than climbing the corporate ladder. Oftentimes people falsely associate entrepreneurship with outsized risk – I’m attracted to this path because of the control you can exert over your own destiny and the life you can shape for yourself.
Someone reading this wants to start a tech company. What’s your best advice for them?
It’s not about the idea; it’s about execution. Also, don’t be afraid to talk about an idea you are chasing. The sooner you start to execute on an idea the sooner you will get the feedback needed to help shape it into what it is actually going to be. Talk with customers and prospective clients and use their feedback to quickly reframe the parts of your idea that don’t work to make something even better.
What are a few tech startups that you’re really excited about right now and why?
I find Uber to be really exciting. Uber is similar to Takeout & Delivery in that it has found an existing consumer behavior to elegantly improve upon through the use of technology, specifically mobile. I am also really interested in the rise of music streaming through companies like MOG, Rdio and Spotify. These companies have helped the music industry take a big step forward through their ability to offer a deep catalog of music by way of mobile. It will be fascinating to continue to watch the music industry evolve through products like these. I’m also very impressed by Jawbone – which continues to build beautifully designed physical products that allow people to better leverage new technologies like Bluetooth and mobile. Streaming MOG to my Jawbone Jambox is a pretty slick experience.
What tech tools (websites, apps, gadgets, etc.) do you rely on both for work and in your down time?
Like millions of others, the iPhone has been a game-changing device for me – I can’t imagine a world without it now. A growing percentage of the population carrying a user-friendly computing powerhouse in their pocket has created tremendous opportunity for application developers to build tools that make one’s life better. Through the iPhone I can access Salesforce.com to get updates from our sales team in the field, track business performance in real time and order my lunch from LivingSocial Takeout & Delivery. The future of innovation is going to be built on top of the iPhone’s platform in the form of applications and products.
I’m also an Amazon Prime addict – I don’t add toothpaste to a list of things I need at the store, I simply pull out my Amazon app and order it when I notice I’m running low.