Stage One Startup,

EP029: Fownders Part 3 – From Mastering The Franchising Industry to Transforming Startups Into Viable Businesses w/ Fownders CEO, Stephen Bienko

January 16, 2017

This Week’s Guest:

First of all, if you haven’t listened to episode 27, you should! It explains what we’re doing this month with Fownders Month and gives you a chance to learn more about our collaboration with Fownders. You’ll also hear about the schedule and who we’ll be interviewing each week. You can also find out more on our website.

Now, let’s chat about today’s Fownders guest! Stephen Bienko is the CEO of Fownders, as well as the head track and field coach at Newark Academy, a nationally ranked prep school in New Jersey. His journey from stage one to success has been a complete rollercoaster, and, as a result, he has some incredible insight to share.

Stephen was the president of 42 Holdings, which was the largest franchise owner of College Hunks Hauling Junk (which he’ll discuss in more depth in this episode). He spent a decade in sports marketing and athletic management, including having worked with marketing for an Olympic gold medalist. As you can see, he’s experienced in many realms, and brings quite a bit to the table for Fownders — and for this interview!

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Part 1 of 2: We hear about Stephen’s past, his first foray into entrepreneurship, and his work in athletic training and junk hauling. He also talks about his book and explains how it relates to entrepreneurship.

4:45 – Stephen talks a bit about himself. We learn about how his father’s entrepreneurship set an example that Stephen later followed.

6:40 – We hear about how much Stephen made during his first entrepreneurship venture during college. He then walks us through some of the other steps in his life that led him to become an athletic trainer. He also discusses the importance of being aware of your impact, especially in the early days of your business.

15:48 – “Success breeds success,” Stephen tells us, and discusses how this applied to his athletic training venture.

19:38 – Stephen’s next venture was in the junk hauling and moving industry, which is within the realm of franchising. He then goes on to discuss the business of franchising itself, and gives some insight into the separation and differences between franchisors and franchisees. He also offers some advice to people interested in getting into a franchise.

24:32 – What made Stephen get involved with College Hunks Hauling Junk instead of entering some other industry? He shares how several factors (including Starbucks and a move of his own) inspired him. He also speaks with great passion about working with college students.

31:08 – Stephen talks about his forthcoming book, Declaring America’s Religion. He then relates the message of the book to the realm of entrepreneurship by offering a reminder to focus on your core mission.

33:48 – Where can you find Stephen’s book? For now, go to and enter your information to be alerted when the book is released.

Rocket Round Q&A

  1. Name one book that has made an impact on your life. Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuk,
  2. What is your favorite thing about yourself, that you’ve noticed growth in since you’ve started? That’s what’s most important at the end of the day, Stephen explains.
  3. Do you have an entrepreneurial idol? Sir Richard Branson, for the life side as much as the business side.
  4. What is your definition of success? “Happiness.” That’s all there is to it, Stephen says.
  5. What do you do in your spare time, when you turn off entrepreneur mode? Stephen loves reading, though typically not of fiction. He also loves triathlon training, being outdoors, and experiencing nature on long bike rides.

Part 2 of 2: Stephen talks about how he got involved with Fownders, why he finds the company (or movement) so remarkable, and why something like Fownders is incredibly valuable for startups. We also hear about how he envisions Fownders’ future.

41:59 – Stephen talks about what attracted him to Fownders and why he decided to become its CEO. For him, he explains, it’s about the people behind the thing more than the thing itself.

45:40 – Stephen’s enthusiasm for Fownders shines through as he enthuses about the ability of businesses to change and the fact that Fownders is a larger movement.

47:30 – What kind of roles will Stephen be undertaking as CEO of Fownders? He discusses building several levels of leadership.

48:53 – How does Fownders help startups? In his answer, Stephen walks us through Fownders’ process, which begins with you. If you’re interested in working with Fownders, absolutely don’t miss listening to this section!

51:54 – Stephen talks about why being in an environment like Fownders is important by describing it as being like a family. We all need help, and people around us to build us up.

54:08 – We hear about why one is more productive and accomplishes more in an environment like this than you would if you were by yourself.

55:20 – Which startups that have gone through the program does Stephen have his eye on? Youii, a college rideshare company, is the one that immediately comes to mind for Stephen. He goes into detail about how this company stands out from other rideshare companies.

57:45 – Where does Stephen see Fownders in five years time? By then, Stephen hopes for Fownders to have 200 to 300 companies under its belt, with a true live/work district established.

59:09 – Stephen provides some information about the next Fownders cohort for anyone interested in applying. He suggests following Gerard Adams on Instagram and visiting the Fownders website to stay up-to-date.

Here’s where you can find Stephen:

On his website

On Twitter

On Instagram

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You can be notified when every new episode gets released! Plus; Free Gifts, Resources, Startup Advice & Much More! We promise not to sent you any rubbish!

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