Norman Aynbinder is no stranger to travel. FoundersCard benefits may help to supplement some of his travel, but he helps fellow Members explore off the beaten path and creates one-of-a-kind experiences in some of the world’s most exotic destinations. As a Member, he also has partnered with FoundersCard to help other entrepreneurs discover some of the world’s best destinations through his company Excursionist.
1.)What inspired you to start your company?
I traveled to India 4 years back for the first time and friends hooked me up with amazing experiences with local experts like tiger tracking with a conservationist in Rajasthan and buying art with an art buyer in Mumbai. I would have never been able to arrange these things myself and they opened my eyes to India in a deeper way. I wanted to create a company that would make it easy for people to pursue their passions on holiday and easily arrange life-changing experiences with locals.
2. What is your favorite destination?
It’s hard for the head of a travel company to discriminate, but I love the “I” countries – Israel, Italy, Ireland and India – some destinations are amazing for one thing, but these places have it all- nature, food, culture… I can keep going back!
3. What is the one book you recommend to everyone
Lately I am obsessed with New Orleans. Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers, is a fantastic non-fiction book that gives a very compelling account of a very difficult time in its history.
4. What is the hardest part about your job?
Running a start-up is all about doing a lot with a little- which is the best way. But I do wish we had more resources to reward the amazing team that has made Excursionist what it is.
5. What is the most played song on your iPod?
It may sound cliché, but Empire State of Mind, by Jay-Z and Alicia Keys. New York is my favorite city in the world, and the song really inspires me every day to appreciate this place and keep hustling.
6. Prior to your current success, what was the worst job you ever had?
I helped my dad start an old fashioned soda fountain concept store when I was in college. I quickly realized I was not meant for the restaurant business, but I can still make some mean hand-cut french fries!
7. Aside from your company/job, what is your greatest success?
I started a job training center for ex-offenders and welfare recipients in Washington, DC. There is nothing that makes me prouder than to see someone acquire skills and self sufficiency.
8. Whom do you admire?
I admire people that stand up against repression and the “powers that be” – Ai Wei Wei, Pussy Riot, Kiran Bedi, Aung San Suu Kyi, and all the nameless people behind peaceful revolutions around the world.
9. What is one app that FoundersCard members should be using right now?
I like Google Translate. Even though the world speaks English, it’s so important to be able to try and speak someone else’s language when you are traveling.
10. Give us your best plug about as to what you’re working on?
Excursionist just launched a new product called Excursionist Escapes in September – affordable, close-in packages that combine amazing experiences with great hotels for a long weekend. Think Food and Jazz in New Orleans, Native American Art and Spas in New Mexico, Charleston for Foodies, and Coffee, Rum, and Cigar Making in the Dominican Republic.
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