The local tech accelerator Flashstarts has announced that after seven years of funding and accelerating early-stage startup companies in the region, it will become a corporate consultancy.
Citing a lack of millennial entrepreneurs generally and the "steep decline in high-growth startups in Northeast Ohio" specifically, Flashstarts CEO Charles Stack said that his company will now use its expertise to help other companies explore entrepreneurial methodologies.
"From corporate blockchain strategy to developing new products and becoming 'crypto literate,' Flashstarts will inject clients with live startup DNA," a press release stated. "In addition to project-based consulting, Flashstarts will also host innovation sprints that will teach intrapreneurs about business modeling, customer/user validation, crypto literacy; and will expose them to emerging technologies like blockchain."
, according to Flashstarts, are employees who do for corporate innovation what entrepreneurs do for startups.
“The greatest value we can offer to our clients is our radically different perspective," said Flashstarts CEO Charles Stack, in a statement provided to the media. "We come from the startup world where rapid iteration, fast failure, wonky new technologies, minimum viable products, and agile development are the norm. Thoughtfully injecting some of that DNA into mature corporations will enable and spur innovation.”
Flashstarts, which began in 2013, has been operating out of Tower City, where the new City Block is planned
, and where its tech-oriented co-working space StartMart is also housed. Among other things, FlashStarts hosted an internship program that attracted both national and international young entrepreneurs. Stack will give a presentation about Flashstarts' evolution at next week's Blockland conference.
Local founder Ed Buchholz, who directs StartinCLE, a nonprofit dedicated to building community among local entrepreneurs, lamented Flashstarts' business pivot in written comments to Scene.
"The shuttering of their [accelerator] program is a massive loss to our startup community," he wrote. "There are simply not enough funding opportunities for the earliest stage companies in our region. I can now count on one hand the local organizations that can help a new founder raise their first $50,000."
Buchholz praised Stack himself — "[He's] one of the few ecosystem leaders who has actually built successful technology businesses from the ground up," — but challenged the notion that Northeast Ohio has experienced a steep decline in local start-ups. He said he speaks to dozens of early-stage companies every month who are desperate to locate even $10,000 or $20,000 in funding.
"From my perspective with StartInCLE, there are more startups being created in NEO now than ever before," he told Scene. "Maybe they're just not a fit for the Flashstarts model."
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