Eric Kuhn founded FoundersCard in 2009, a first of its kind, members-only community for leading entrepreneurs and innovators. Prior to FoundersCard, Eric co-founded Varsity Group Inc., an Internet solution provider to education institutions.
Under Eric’s leadership, Varsity Group has grown to serve over 700 educational institutions nationwide as the official online, on-campus and in-store provider of books and uniforms.
Eric had been profiled in many publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. Prior to co-founding Varsity Group, Eric practiced law in New York City. He received a B.A. with honors from Haverford College in 1993 and a J.D. with honors from The George Washington University Law School in 1996.
If you're running a tech startup, then the chances are you've heard of FoundersCard. It's essentially the "black card" for entrepreneurs, offering perks, networking opportunities and something even more coveted: an aura of exclusivity.
A FoundersCard membership brings discounts at more than 250 merchants that cater to the tech crowd, like Virgin Atlantic – the airline of choice for many in Silicon Valley – and the Ace Hotels mini-chain, where Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg likes to crash. Even Apple has signed on, giving FoundersCard members access to its "preferred pricing" program, which offers a smattering of discounts and freebies.
Elite Daily had the chance to interview the fan favorite of entrepreneurs everywhere, Eric Kuhn. We asked him about his life, business, and outlook on entrepreneurism today.
Out of all persons in business, it would seem an entrepreneur could benefit the most from having a network – after all, his business is to venture out alone. How receptive and responsive has the entrepreneur community been to having a network catered just for them?
Entrepreneurs have been incredibly receptive and appreciative to having a community focused specifically on them. Being an entrepreneur not only means facing constant challenges, but also it can be a very isolating experience. There’s a strong desire to connect with others who can uniquely relate to the ups and downs of building a company.
How important has networking been for you in entrepreneurism? Any examples?
Networking has been a very important part of all of my entrepreneurial endeavors. The initial round of funding raised for my first company years ago was the direct result of a round of golf with a former law school classmate.
What about success stories of FoundersCard? What are some cool collaborative stories you have heard sparked by the interactions made through the company?
I’ve heard many stories of members getting funding, creating deals and adding new customers. Just last night, one of our members told me he met what he expects will be his largest customer from our recent New York event. Perhaps though, what is most important, are the many members who become friends through our events.
What is the biggest failure you have experienced in your career? How did you learn from your failure?
About two months after the first company I started, VarsityBooks, went public, the NASDAQ crashed. We had to change and rebuild the business model to prevent ourselves from going bankrupt.
What advice would you give other young people about pursuing a career in the face of failure?
I would advise them to learn how to channel the fear of failing constructively – use failures and complaints as motivation to improve and succeed. Also, remain close to the customer, no matter how large your company becomes, and be willing to work extremely hard to constantly improve your product.
What does success mean to you and your business?
Success means having happy members, happy partners and happy employees.
How would you know you have attained it?
It’s a never-ending goal; although we have heard from hundreds of appreciative members who are really excited about what we are building, and that certainly feels like success.
What plans do you have for your career that we would have never suspected?
Right now, I’m really focused on FoundersCard. As for what’s next, we’ll have to see. The inspiration for this company came from doing lots of traveling with my last company, so who knows when or where the next big inspiration will strike. It could be years away, or it could be tomorrow.
How do you plan on expanding your business, keeping it relevant in the future?
We’re constantly expanding, constantly adding new members and new benefits. I’m always interested in staying in touch with our members, finding out what they’re looking for from FoundersCard, and then doing our best to exceed their expectations. As long as we have happy members and are aware of what will serve them best, I think we’ll stay relevant.
5, 10, 50 years down the line, when you’ve achieved everything you aspire for today, where do you see yourself?
It’s hard to say what will happen in the future, but since I’m always aspiring toward new goals, I don’t think I’ll be slowing down anytime soon. I see myself still working hard, constantly learning and traveling as much as I can, enjoying business and enjoying life.