Those who knew Eric Feinstein, remembered him as ahead of time. If he set a goal, they said, he accomplished it.
In 1996, he founded the Internet Junction. He invested his own savings to start it, and with a group of mostly fresh-out-of-high-school students created a provider service to take on broadband giants, offering plans for around $10, when the standard price was almost double that.
“It was revolutionary at the time,” his son, Zach Feinstein, said. “It was value-based internet which didn’t exist then, it was all very expensive.
By 2002, they had 20,000 subscribers and won the right from the Federal Trade Commission to share Time Warner’s cable lines in Tampa Bay and Orlando.
Mr. Feinstein, 64, died in late August when he was struck by two vehicles while crossing the intersection of Tampa Road and St. Petersburg Drive. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is still seeking details about the second vehicle.
Born in White Plains, N.Y. in 1953, Mr. Feinstein served in the Air Force, where he first learned about computers. He lived in Colorado where he met his first wife and had four kids, before moving to Tampa in 1990 where he first worked as an engineering manager at a digital company before founding Internet Junction.
Mr. Feinstein met Linda Feinstein in 1997, and the two were together about 10 years before getting married in 2009, Linda said.
“He was a motivator,” Linda Feinstein, said. “He really cared about other people and their futures.”
Her husband was an avid athlete, running, biking and skiing. He loved his family and loved to support others, she said, whether it was a high school student entering the tech world or her pursuing art.
Kevin Decker, one of Mr. Feinstein’s early employees at the Internet Junction, was hired at 19. Decker said he wasn’t a particularly good student in high school, but credits Mr. Feinstein for turning his path around. He now lead Apple’s web browser team about to release Safari 7 and holds more than 50 patents.
“Eric fundamentally changed the course of my life,” Decker said. “Isn’t it amazing when there are people who recognize potential in you long before you do? He invested time in me and cared and forever altered the trajectory of my life.”
Decker said Mr. Feinstein set an example for leadership he tries to follow, treating his employees like family and seeing the potential in people.
Mr. Feinstein’s son, Zach, owns the Black Pearl and the Living Room in Dunedin, and said his father was both a father and mentor to him as well, coming to his managers’ retreats and provide his guidance.
“He was the most brilliant man I’d ever met in my life that’s for sure,” he said. “His family is from a long line of entrepreneurs. …He always saw the end game. He always saw ahead of his competition.”
Ashley Daunt, Linda’s daughter, worked for the Internet Junction for 16 years, from the time she was 15 years old.
His passion for the company and its customers never waned even when he sold it in 2017, she said.
“If people need equipment replaced, he would take it personally to their house,” she said. “He loved Internet Junction and the company to the point where when it was time to sell it, he personally called every one of our customers to let them know. Here’s this successful business man, calling each of his customers.”
For the last 20 years, she said, he was a father to her.
“We did a lot of big things together, but it’s the little things I’ll miss,” she said. “He genuinely cared about people. He would ask about friends I wasn’t even friends with anymore.”
Her husband, Jason, said Mr. Feinstein became like a second father to him as well.
“I will never in my life forget the tenderness he had on his entire family,” he said. “(He was) the most gentle, giving, loving man I have ever encountered.”
Contact Divya Kumar at [email protected] or . Follow @divyadivyadivya.