CXO Conversation Podcast

CEO Ben Deda, Changing Industries and Building Communities

Today’s guest served as a Marine for seven years before making his way from plant manager to VP of Sales within four years in the manufacturing industry and making the jump towards technology.


Ben and Michael will be discussing how to make the jump into the tech field, the impact of military service on his professional life, and how founding the Denver Startup Week has affected his career.



Ben Deda has a professional path that includes seven years of service in the Marines. He started his civilian career as the Plant Manager for TruStile Doors becoming the VP of commercial sales in four years. He then made the jump into tech and was the VP of Sales at FullContact, the COO at Galvanize, VP of Marketing for Vertafore and is currently the CEO of Foodmaven. Ben also co-founded the hugely successful Denver Startup Week.


Ben graduated from the University of Notre-Dame with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA from the University of Denver.





Podfly Productions:

Veterans of Foreign Wars:

OC Executive Search:



[1:50] Michael introduces Ben and asks him to share an interesting tidbit about himself — Ben grew up in a town small enough that it didn’t require a stoplight and out of which came the founders of two businesses that were sold for over nine figures apiece! He shares what Foodmaven does.


[3:15] 40% of the food produced in the country is wasted, for an estimated 200 billion dollar loss annually. Ben explains Foodmaven’s mission in this landscape as well as how some of the varied industries he’s worked in have similarities that he was able to use and be more adaptable and sometimes even innovative.


CEO EXPECTATIONS [8:45] Being newly minted, Ben touches on what he expected being a CEO would be as well as the people, preparation and path it took to get him there. He also touches on the great board he can count on to help him navigate the learning curves.


CRITICAL EXPERIENCE [12:59] Ben breaks down the different ways you can get the critical pieces of experience you need in order to get to a CEO position as well as the importance of surrounding yourself well while still being knowledgeable.


THE MOST IMPACTFUL ROLE [15:43] While there wasn’t one role that made him the CEO he is today, Ben does highlight a few of the key positions he’s held and how they drove his management style and general business knowledge — and that includes his military service.


FOR THE AMBITIOUS VP OUT THERE [18:52] Ben’s advice is about figuring yourself out, picking your opportunities and planning your path.


WHEN THINGS DON’T GO AS PLANNED [20:40] Without singling out one specific moment or decision, Ben touches on his broader tendency to make decisions that seem not to follow a straight line and what may have helped him land the CEO position.


DENVER STARTUP WEEK [23:40] Ben shares how it started, with whom, and why — today, it’s the largest free entrepreneurial event in North America. He also takes a moment to reflect on the possibilities for the future.


[31:47] Ben speaks to the great network the Denver Startup Week has facilitated for him.


[33:20] Organizing Denver Startup Week has taught Ben a lot about community and that giving up a measure of control is both hard and necessary. He shares how he has now begun to move away from the frontlines and into a board position.


SO YOU WANT TO BUILD AN EVENT? [36:44] Ben shares his best advice for people who may be interested in building an event of their own. He also gives the three rules he uses with new teams:

  1. Get stuff done.
  2. Don’t screw your team.
  3. Always assume positive intent.


MILITARY SERVICE [39:59] Ben breaks down how his military career informs who he is as a person and as a leader.


BEST WORST JOB BEN EVER HAD [41:47] Working on a plastic injection molding factory floor gives you some perspective on what a lot of people’s lives are like.


BOOKS AND FINAL THOUGHTS [43:59] Ben shares his reading list and a few final thoughts for emerging CXOs.


[46:57] Michael thanks Ben for coming on the podcast to share his insight and closes out the podcast with his favorite takeaways.


We hope you learned something today and enjoyed the conversation. Please give us 5 stars on iTunes and share your comments so we can improve and ask the questions you want to hear.




Foodmaven board

T-Shaped skills

Denver Startup Week (Denver Startup Bash)

The Hard Thing About Hard Things: Building a Business When There Are No Easy Answers,
by Ben Horowitz

Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card



Jalan Crossland for the music

Angela Johnson at OC Executive Search

Joseph Batty at Podfly

Corey Coates at Podfly


Listen on: