This month’s spotlight is on Kevin Hundal, CEO of Atrend, a global provider of high-end mobile electronics accessories. A graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago, Kevin is a motorcycle enthusiast, marathon runner, and avid entrepreneur. Find out how he built Atrend from the ground up and where he plans to take it in the future.
EO Member: Kevin Hundal
Years in Business: 19
How many years has your company been operating?
How long have you been a member of EO Chicago and why did you join the organization?
I was officially accepted into EO as a member back in 2009. Before that, I was an Accelerator from 2007 to 2009.
The story begins in 2003. I was in a 400-level entrepreneurship course at UIC and they invited two entrepreneurs to come in and talk to us. The entrepreneurs mentioned EO, and the thought stuck with me. I immediately went home and searched for it. I emailed and called them, but couldn’t get much information on the organization, except that you had to have one million dollars of revenue to join, which I didn’t at the time.
After that, I would email EO every six months or so, just to stay in touch, and let them know I was still operating my business and was interested in anything they might be willing to send me. Then, in 2006, I got an email saying they were launching the Accelerator program. They invited me to a cocktail reception to find out more about it, and I ended up filling out the application that day. I was accepted into the Accelerator program in 2007 and that’s where my journey with EO really started.
What was your first job?
I worked at a McDonald’s when I was 15 years old.
Can you describe your entrepreneurial journey? Where did you start and where do you hope to go in the future?
My father is an entrepreneur and he started a manufacturing company when I was 13 years old that kind of morphed into what Atrend is today. That’s when I started working on the shop floor and really understanding that there are no limitations to what you can build and create. Witnessing my father’s hardships in running a business and keeping it from going under so he could support our family taught me to take a very serious and dedicated approach to learn anything and everything I could about entrepreneurship, the business, and what I could do to transform it. And Atrend is a transformation of that business.
When I launched Atrend in 2002, it was a completely different industry, but I’d like to say that I took everything I learned as a child and applied it to my own journey. EO is certainly a huge part of that journey. In 2009, I joined the board and learned a lot from the experience, and then I was President of our chapter in 2018. All of those experiences have led me to be the entrepreneur I am today.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I love to look at a problem, whether it’s within my business or external to it, and see how our organization can help solve it.
What daily challenges do you face at work?
Focus is a big challenge of mine. I work hard to stay focused on the right priorities, set the right goals for my organization, and not be too much of a distraction to my team.
What is the best career advice you ever received?
The best advice I ever received—and took— was to look for people who have done it before, latch on to what they’ve said, and take their mentorship, coaching, and advice.
What are your goals for the future of your business?
My goal is to have Atrend run entirely without me. I want it to be sustainable and scalable without my involvement.
What’s the coolest thing you’re working on right now?
Right now, I’m working on our B2C platform as an organization. We’re traditionally a B2B business, but our B2C business accounts for about 20% of our revenue. So I’m building a team behind that to increase business on our website, Amazon, and other B2C platforms. It’s super exciting because there’s so much to try, learn, and solve, but I believe that it could be the majority of our revenue in the next 24 months if done correctly.
Who or what inspires you?
My personal purpose in life is oneness. A lot of EO members have heard me speak about this and how it’s really about uplifting others so they can achieve their true potential. What really gets me fired up is a quote from Francis Fry, a Harvard business professor, who said, “Leadership is about making others better because of your presence and making it last in your absence.” So what really motivates me is thinking about how I can do that for my team, friends, family, and everything I build in the future.
If you could go back in time five years and share advice with your past self, what advice would you share?
I wish I would have been as hyper-focused on cash flow and profitability as I am now. I think a lot of entrepreneurs—including myself—chase revenue because we love to see growth. But sometimes you just need to chase cash and profit, because, at the end of the day, that’s your oxygen. That’s what allows you to grow.
What is the greatest challenge you have overcome?
Because my business has family in it—both my cousin and brother are involved as partners—and family means the world to me, I have trouble separating the two and keeping emotions out of business. I don’t think I’ve mastered this yet, but I continued to learn and be self-aware about it so that I can maintain a separation between the two.
What brought you to Chicago?
I was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago.
How do you find work-life balance?
I find that it’s about committing to goals in your personal life with the same love and energy as you do in your business. For example, one of the things my forum does is create a personal plan for each of our members. Members set personal goals that they have to accomplish every 90 days. We hold each other accountable for these goals. It’s my guiding compass to ensure I have a work-life balance.
When you were a kid, what did you say you wanted to be when you grew up?
I always said I wanted to be a businessman. I remember my dad used to wear a suit and tie, so I would say, “I’m going to wear a suit and tie and be a businessman.” So now I’m a businessman, but I also ride a motorcycle.
What are your favorite things to do outside of work?
I like to ride motorcycles! Also, running is a love of mine, as is connecting with friends, mentoring, and coaching. I love supporting others in pursuing their passions.
What’s one thing still left on your bucket list?
There’s a lot! But if I had to choose one, it would be starting the Institute for Oneness. In the next 10 years, I’d like to start an institute, a sort of retreat, maybe, based on my concept of oneness. Its goal would be to connect people with others to uplift them. I also want to do an Ironman Triathlon in the next five years.
What are you currently reading?
The Laws of Lifetime Growth by Dan Sullivan
If you could recommend one podcast, what would it be?
One that I’ve really been loving listening to while on the treadmill is Project Life Mastery with Stefan James.
What’s your favorite restaurant in Chicago?
Chicago Chop House
What is your favorite part about working in the Chicagoland area?
Well, you can grab a beer and work anywhere you want! It’s a city that’s very conducive to just going around, finding a comfortable spot, and making it your office or playground.
What is your top Chicago activity?
In the summertime, it’s jazz night at the Shedd Aquarium. They open up the deck overlooking the lake and have a band playing. You can have drinks and mingle with friends—very fun!
Where’s your favorite place in the world to visit?
Milan is beautiful. My sister lives out there, and it’s a very laid-back place. And of course the pizza and wine rock.
Thank you to Kevin Hundal for sharing his story for our March member spotlight. The Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global business network of more than 14,000 entrepreneurs in 198 chapters and 61 countries. EO is the catalyst that enables entrepreneurs to learn and grow from each other, leading to greater business success and an enriched personal life.
If you’re interested in becoming an EO Chicago member, check our membership requirements and submit an application to join today.