In May of 2011, we introduced you to the FoundersCard, a global community of entrepreneurs and innovators that offers a unique benefits program so startup founders can have the same sweet deals that c-level execs enjoy from large corporations. These discounts include offers from hundreds of businesses like Apple, Rackspace, Moo, FedEx, David Barton gyms, spas, online shopping sites, hotels, airlines, telecom companies and other great services like Zipcar, Uber, LimoRes and Roomorama.
This week, FoundersCard CEO and founder Eric J. Kuhn will celebrate the company’s 2-year anniversary and, in particular, the massive success of its growing hotel network. Unlike deal sites that take cuts from hotel properties, FoundersCard does not accept any commission and therefore can offer its members great ongoing rates, flexible cancellation and upgrades. Kuhn tells me the FC network has become a top account for many of their hotel partners. In fact, FC members have booked upwards of a thousand nights at various Ace Hotels (known for their tech savvy guests and lobby parties).
In 2012, FoundersCard will be adding 50 new properties in over 20 new locations with brands such as Four Seasons, Viceroy W Hotels, Mandarin Oriental, Kimpton, and Park Hyatt. Members will also enjoy new benefits like Hertz’s Five Star Gold Service and exclusive all-access passes to David Barton Gyms.
Personally, after a year with the FoundersCard in my pocket, I’ve used three benefits- the GiltCity discount, the Virgin Atlantic discount and the Uber car service discount. Since I’m not running my own business in the traditional sense, (I don’t need a Rackspace or UPS discount or travel to fancy hotels for work as often as I’d like) a lot of the discounts don’t directly apply to me. But tallying up the few discounts that I have used, and the $200 membership fee has paid for itself. I also won a day in a fancy car while attending a FoundersCard event at the Classic Car Club this fall (literally, #FTW!).
Bryan Janeczk is a successful multi-time entrepreneur who recently started WickedStart to help small business owners and early-stage entrepreneurs start their own businesses. He joined the club one year and told me, “Founders Card has crafted an offering that’s great for the entrepreneurial lifestyle”. He likes the FC benefits, and more importantly, finds them relevant to how he conducts his business.
“Unlike other membership programs where offerings are all over the place and they’re difficult to navigate- FC benefits seem targeted to me,” he says. Specifically, discounts with Apple, AT&T, American Airlines, hip hotels and 99designs are all directly relevant to his needs.
But, he says his favorite perk is “being a part of the FC community. “As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to feel ‘lonely’ and disconnected since you’re building your own business. FC helps bridge that by hosting these events where you can meet like-minded individuals who are similar to you.”
Michael Giles, an Aussie entrepreneur who runs a company called Roboinvest in New York City, joined FC in June 2011 and has made good use of the its networking events. At his first event in June 2011, he met David Tannenbaum of Aftermath Ventures. “I had a startup, and he wanted to invest in entrepreneurs with great ideas,” says Giles. “We instantly hit it off and within about a month they became a seed investor in my company.”
As of today, Giles is about to close his first angel round of funding. “It’s funny when I look back on my journey over the past 6 months and see what we achieved and I wonder where I would be right now if I hadn’t gone to that FoundersCard event?”
Today, the FoundersCard community is just over 5,000 members, most of whom live and work in the U.S.A. The majority of the perks, because of the members who’ve joined, are U.S. centric, but FoundersCard is concentrated on growing its membership base and its perks internationally going forward.
“We’re receiving really interesting applications every day, not just from the tech community but from artists and entrepreneurs all over the world,” says Kuhn. “And you dont need a 20-year track record of 5 successful companies to join FoundersCard. We pride ourselves on the fact that we have a range of members who are first time founders to the world’s most well known entrepreneurs. What we’re really looking for is a deep commitment to being an entrepreneur because that makes the networking aspect and the community more dynamic.”
Upcoming FoundersCard events include a night at The Clift in San Francisco in February and a party at the W Austin in March during SXSW. Membership is by invite and referral only; and because of this, it tends to have a very high acceptance rate. The application is a simple process and takes no longer than 15 minutes to fill out. Membership rates are $495 per year plus a $65 initiation fee but most members receive a discounted invite from other members for $295 per year.
Whether you like perks, learning about new startups or meeting new people in your community, FoundersCard has given entrepreneurs one more reason to leave the corporate life and go out on their own.
Interested in applying? Let us know in the comments or reach out to me on Twitter.