Anderee Berengian is a pianist, a car lover and a biochemist who leads one of Orange County’s most innovative startups. Cie Digitial Labs, or CDL, serves as an “innovation lab” for many global brands, developing ideas and turning them into new tech ventures. In this Only in Irvine interview, Berengian explains how biochemistry prepared him to become CDL’s chairman and CEO (and mix a mean hot sauce), and describes his favorite burger, which you probably can’t guess.
How would you describe Cie Digital Labs (CDL) to a child sitting next to you on a plane?
CDL makes big companies better by creating technology for them. Also, CDL creates baby companies (startups) that grow to become large businesses.
What do you love most about your job?
Working with the tight-knit family at CDL.
Why has Irvine and the Spectrum especially become such an appealing environment for tech companies?
Irvine has a lot of great office space. The Spectrum area has a lot of food and entertainment options which are important for tech companies who tend to work long hours.
How did studying biochemistry at UCLA prepare you for this?
Science taught me to be analytical and to apply the scientific method to each experiment. I apply those same skills to solving big problems at CDL.
We work with a variety of large companies across many sectors, such as retail, CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods), logistics, etc. We leverage best practices in creating digital technology that creates significant growth, customer engagement, and revenues for these companies.
What do you do when you need to take a break from work during the workday?
I usually read news online to learn what is going on outside of the office.
Go-to Irvine lunch spot, and what do you order?
Eureka! I get the bison burger.
What work habit do you need to improve upon?
I need to do a better job delegating to my team. I get very excited about the technology we are building, and I want to be a part of everything we do.
What do you love to do on your day off?
Day off? What’s that? I am into cars and I like to go for a long drive. It helps clear my head.
Motto or personal mantra?
Remove the fear. Don’t be afraid to take risks and go with your gut.
What kind of smartphone do you use and why?
iPhone 7 Plus. I travel a lot and I am a heavy phone users so I need the larger screen. And all of my Apple devices work seamlessly together.
Three things most people don’t know about you?
I am a kid at heart and I love comedy. One day I want to try my hand at stand-up comedy. I am a former biochemist – I use those skills to make a variety of hot sauces.
I enjoy music and I taught myself to play the piano.
Favorite song or two in your current rotation?
Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” – I saw him play live several years ago before he was mainstream and he’s incredibly talented.
Greatest lesson you ever learned?
Don’t take anyone for granted. One day, they might not be there.
What would be the title of your autobiography?
“16 Letters: The story of a man with hard to pronounce first and last names.”
Before I die, I want to … ?
Learn to fly a plane.