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Interview Series: Meet Cyngn's VP of Business Development, Ben Landen

Cyngn |




Thank you, everybody, for joining us here at Cyngn’s channel. I just want to let you all know what we're going to be doing with this interview series. We'll be going through company updates and industry updates, answering any questions you guys have for us. So if you have any, please don't be shy and send them over. And, of course, introducing members of the team. 

So who better to kick us off for video number one than the VP of Business Development, Mr. Ben Landen. Ben, how are you doing today?

Ben Landen:

I'm doing all right, thank you.


Good. Very glad to get you on. And I'm real curious about your past prior to getting involved with the company. So tell me about the journey that led you to where you are today.

Ben Landen:

I did an electrical engineering degree. I grew up in the Silicon Valley, so very naturally fell into semiconductors, got into product management straight after my engineering degree. So, never looked back at engineering after that, essentially. And joined a large semiconductor company working in the automotive group, which was very small at the time that I joined. 

When I left seven years later, it was the fastest growing group in the company. It was $500 million worth of revenue. I got to claim customers by the likes of Tesla, BMW, Volkswagen, Audi, GM, you name them. My product lens were shipping tens of millions of chips per year, and it was at that moment that I realized, hey, what I've done up until now was a form of entrepreneurship, it was effectively intropreneurship, starting a new product line within a large company. 

And once it grew into that steady state, larger revenues, I found myself getting a bit bored. I did my MBA at UC Berkeley, joined a five person startup, raised a bunch of money from Silicon Valley investors, and we were doing deep learning computer vision solutions for autonomous vehicles. 

After three years as the head of product and business development there, growing the team to 40 people, we were acquired by Tesla, and at that point, I connected with Cyngn.

I loved the opportunity and the shorter time to expected return on investment in that industrial space that they were focusing in. And I've been with Cyngn for over three years now.


Wow. Okay, yeah. So definitely not your first rodeo here in this industry. And it sounds like he got bit by the entrepreneurial bug pretty hard there, too. So curious then from there. So talk to me about what you handle then as a VP of Business Development at Cyngn.

Ben Landen:

It's interesting with Cyngn, we are publicly traded on the Nasdaq, but we are essentially still a startup in many ways. So I get to do a little bit of jack-of-all trades that you tend to hear when you think of startups, and especially leadership at startups. 

So, obviously, business development means everything external, whether it's engaging with customers, partners, potential vendors, and turning those from vendors into partners when that's appropriate and fruitful for both of us. 

As well as product strategy — we've gone through phases of the product team rolling under me. It was my team who was the driving force behind much of the work that we did for our IPO, which was quite an experience that we went through in 2021.

So that's a long way of saying I get to do a little bit of everything which keeps things very interesting as well.


Good. Yeah, definitely. That definitely helps keep the entrepreneurial spirit taped, so to speak. And so then I guess what are you most excited about trying to convey with this interview series? And I guess as a bonus from there, what are you most excited about going into 2023?

Ben Landen:

I think that we are in an interesting place, where in my ten plus years working in autonomous vehicles I used to spend my meetings with customers, with potential partners, with investors, convincing them that automation was coming. That it was smart to invest in it now, and then also battling that upstream current of but what about the people that you're going to displace?”

And I think another interesting outcome from the last few years, the changes that we've seen during the pandemic, remote work, ecommerce, we're now in a very different world where everybody knows that it's a matter of time before automation happens. And the conversations about the workforce have completely shifted. 

I now have customers who come to me and say: “Ben, if I could hire 500 people tomorrow, I would,  but I cannot. So I need to find a way to start automating some of the things that the workforce that I do rely on should not be doing anymore.”

And I think we're finally seeing that perfect intersection of customer needs and the offering of the product, which is to make people's workforce better and to remove that concern, which was never our intention and I'm glad that the macroeconomic situation has shifted to make it obvious — that we're not here to displace workers, we're here to let workers be more successful, let companies be more successful. And those are really the customers that we have an awesome connection with.


Well said, Ben. Well, I look forward to diving deeper into the company as we go along with this series. Thank you so much for coming on and please have a wonderful day.

Ben Landen: 

Thank you. You too.

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