Expert Interview with Jon Lal on Using Technology to Save Money for Mint

Jon Lal wants to save you money. As the founder and CEO of BeFrugal.com, he created a system that automates using coupons, making it so simple anyone can do it. Jon spoke with us about why he built BeFrugal.com, and why it's so useful.

Let's start with BeFrugal.com. How did this deal system get built?

In our initial planning process for BeFrugal.com, my founding team and I came up with our primary objective - to provide the best user experience for consumers wanting to maximize their shopping dollars. For this, the key pillars were technology, content and customer service.

On the technology front, we developed cloud-based artificial intelligence coupon and deal sourcing and verification technology. That technology, run by our in-house USA-based content team, has enabled us to provide high-quality content that also covers the highest number of retailers - every one of the largest 500, and totaling 40,000+ retailers in total. And finally, to ensure the highest quality of customer service, we had to do it all in-house from our Boston office.

The three pillars - technology, content and service - meant that a lot of my initial work was to recruit the right people, who are very good not just at their roles, but are also committed to our mission and values. My team is BeFrugal.com's single biggest asset. While I may get some credit for direction, my team deserves the majority of credit for delivering on all three - technology, content and service.

How do you decide what deals to offer? What's your criteria?

Our primary objective is to provide the best user experience for consumers wanting to maximize their shopping dollars. Given that, we knew we had to offer quantity, quality and service. By that, I mean the most comprehensive selection of deals that are guaranteed to work, and are supported by excellent customer service over live chat and email.

BeFrugal.com's content team makes sure that we have all valid offers, focusing first on the largest 500 retailers, then on the 40,000 other retailers listed on our site.

The stores we partner with let us know of their upcoming sales and offers, and each day our team at BeFrugal works diligently to find the best deals available. We offer a "Guaranteed to Work or $5" on the online coupons listed on our site. Our cash-back rates, averaging 7%, are also the best in the industry and are backed by a 125% guarantee.

What makes a good deal? What should we be thinking about when we look at whether or not to use a coupon?

The best deals are often from "stacking" your rewards. Stacking means combining online coupons with cash back. BeFrugal.com's online coupons save consumers an average of $27 per order, and the cash-back program returns an additional 7% back after the purchase. And in most cases, consumers can "stack" their savings with both coupon and cash back when they shop.

Consumers should look for the "money bag" symbol on BeFrugal.com's coupons. That symbol indicates that the particular coupon is stackable - therefore will also earn cash back.

What's a good system for tracking the deals available to you?

We do a number of things to help consumers find the best deals. Consumers can sign up for alerts from their favorite stores so that they know right away when the latest sales and coupons are running. Every day we look at all the deals available from our retailers and round up the top coupons and cash back offers so that consumers can easily find the best deals of the day. BeFrugal also sends out a newsletter twice weekly with hand-picked deals and savings you won't want to miss.

How has mobile technology changed coupons? Are you seeing more of them? Different ones?

In-store coupons are more frequently offered on mobile apps and sites so that shoppers can easily scan their smartphone at checkout instead of printing a coupon from home. Mobile technology is changing the way consumers look for sales, compare prices in real time and access coupons.

What are some coming technological changes that will save us money?

In our space, technology in the form of distributed computing that leverages big data and combines with crowd sourcing is key. And the right people are even more important - they should not only have the right job skills, but also a commitment to the mission and values of the organization. Technology and the right people will be increasingly seen as key ingredients to building a successful organization in the years to come.

For the latest deals from BeFrugal, follow Jon and his team on Facebook and Twitter.