When his father started the company Books Are Fun, Ben was inspired by what his father had achieved as a lifelong entrepreneur. Today, Ben Kaplan is the president of Collective Goods, a company that is an evolution of the same business model that his father created in 1990.
 

After his father retired and sold Books Are Fun, Ben Kaplan (BBA Management, Entrepreneurial Certificate ‘07) and his brother decided it was time to start Collective Goods. The company brings world-class retail experiences to the workplace, providing a better way for consumers to shop.  A portion of the sales for your purchases is given back to the community to a worthy cause that is important to you. In short, Collective Goods is focused on making the world a better place.

Collective Goods is based out of Boulder, Colorado but has a nationwide reach. In a typical week, the company conducts around 9,000 pop-up flash sales around the country. The company brings in a narrowly focused and well curated assortment of some of the most popular merchandise on the market, and offers it to buyers at a significant discount off the retail price. That makes the sale a win-win for the customer who gets a great deal while also knowing they have contributed to a philanthropic cause.

During his time as a student at the University of Iowa, Kaplan focused on academic coursework that would help him learn the fundamentals of starting his own business. This is how he got introduced to the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center and helped him make the decision to earn his Entrepreneurial certificate. “My entrepreneurship classes gave me the confidence to work through the critical steps of organizing and starting a business,” said Kaplan.

Kaplan is proud every day of the human impact Collective Goods makes. “Seeing people delight in the experience is what it’s all about. When people come together around a unifying cause it is deeply rewarding,” he said.

Being responsible for a changing company culture can be hard. Kaplan’s job “requires consistency, conviction, passion, patience, emotional intelligence and a great deal of persistence,” he said. But he loves it.

Collective Goods isn’t the only business Kaplan is involved in. He is also connected to several hospitality related ventures including an artisan public market hall, a hotel, a number of restaurants, and even a technology company. In addition, Kaplan is also currently helping to produce a film.

As far as advice goes for budding entrepreneurs, Kaplan makes a bold suggestion. “Be open and willing to fail. It is inevitable, but it is an invaluable step along the continuum to your ultimate success. It’s not an endgame. It does not define you. It’s simply a step on your path of growth and progress,” he said.