We were sent straight up to the penthouse suite of the posh SoHo Mondrian Hotel, which towers over the low-rises typical of lower Manhattan, and boasts the breathtaking visibility of the island in its entirety. The view of the Empire State Building, Brooklyn Bridge, and just about any iconic building that screams New York City is unobstructed and in plain sight. At the same time, we were mingling among the cream of the crop, budding startup CEOs that have been handpicked for an exclusive members-only subscription-based perks program called FoundersCard.
Enterprise-level CEOs and other executives have for a long time been graced with company benefit programs whether for discounted luxury rooms at hotels, a free business class ride for vacations, or other perks. With a number of entrepreneurs taking up residence in major cities throughout the United States, Eric Kuhn, founder and CEO of FoundersCard, saw an opportunity to offer similar benefits to his members-only program, and took up the challenge to found FourndersCard in 2009.
There’s an official application process for interested parties, but the acceptance rate hovers around just 65 percent. Kuhn says that there’s nothing intentionally snobbish about the exclusivity of the program as founders of startups are plentiful, — as the saying increasingly goes, “Who isn’t working on an iPhone app?”
“We’re not looking to be snobbish for the sense of being snobbish, we want to just create what we think is the best community for entrepreneurs that really benefits our members as we grow,” Kun explained to Digital Trends.
After mingling with FoundersCard entrepreneurs, we learned that the perks of owning the black card for a mere $495 fee could be worth its cost. Among the benefits that FoundersCard offers includes 10 percent discounts off of Virgin Atlantic and Lufthansa flights, discounts off of Apple and AT&T, and discounts on services from Rackspace, Mailchimp, AppSumo, and even on clothes from John Varvatos and Rag & Bone. But the clothing discounts for the high end designers appeared to be the least popular item, with many members explaining to us that $1,000 would be better suited for hosting fees or hiring an intern than purchasing a single suit, at least for an entrepreneur. On the other hand, the hotel and flight discounts were undoubtedly the two most raved about benefits of owning the black card. In fact Kuhn explained that an all-you-can-fly pass would be the “dream perk” that he would someday like to offer FoundersCard members.
So what if your startup fails? Luckily for existing members, there’s neither shame for the fall-through or a FoundersCard police. Memberships won’t expire, nor will they be revoked, granted that you continue to pay your yearly dues. “We actually in many respects become more vital to them, because they’re looking to maintain that network of connections in the entrepreneurial community, even if they’re working in a larger company,” Kuhn said.
As FoundersCard grows, there’s the challenge of balancing existing and new members, while maintaining the quality of the membership, but so far Kuhn has been confident with his application process and the direction the company is going. In fact he has his sights set on expanding into other industries including fashion and music.
FoundersCard provided an exclusive list to Digital Trends of their most popular benefits, which you can check out below.
Most Popular Benefits – All Time
(number of members redeeming)
- AT&T Wireless
- W Hotel – San Francisco
- Ace Hotel – New York
- Virgin Atlantic
Most Popular Benefits – Past 90 Days
(number of members redeeming)
- Virgin America
- TripIt Pro
- Cosmopolitan Hotel – Las Vegas