College students and recent graduates have a new outlet for turning their software ideas into a profitable business. We all know the leap from idea to profit is challenging to say the least. Most young entrepreneurs don’t have the resources or expertise to take the step. Of those who do, only a handful manage to launch anything resembling profitable.
Founded in 2012, FlashStart is a business accelerator and consultant for software startups based in Cleveland Ohio that tries to ease this path for young entrepreneurs. Software startups apply to FlashStart’s 12 week summer program where ten teams of undergrads and recent graduates receive mentorship and, of course, funding. On their website, FlashStart describes the program as: “We give you money. You give us equity. We then build a business together.” FlashStart will provide feedback on any idea, encouraging applicants to keep applying. FlashStart will consider any idea, but their favorites are connected withentrepreneurship and healthcare. The ten accepted teams will receive constant feedback, seasoned mentors and up to $20,000 in startup capital from FlashStart in exchange for 6% equity in their new companies. To be exact, startups will receive $11,000 and an additional $3,000 for each team member up to $20,000. There are no age or geographic requirements, though it is aimed at younger participants.
FlashStart is a new organization. It only recently partnered with the first school, Oberlin College, as a part of their University program. Most of the 65 applicants for their summer 2013 program are from NorthEast Ohio, close to FlashStart’s headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio. Still, some applicants are from as far as Pennsylvania, Kentucky and North Carolina.
FlashStart’s CEO and Founder, Charles Stack, has seen his share of successes and failures in the startup field. Sideways, a publishing software company, closed shop in 2011 after receiving aid from Stack and still losing money. Sideways, a company most would call a failure FlashStart calls a ‘pending success’ using tongue and cheek on their website. FlashStart argues that ‘pending successes’ teach lessons to the accelerator and FlashStart’s students. Still, FlashStart also has successes to teach and learn from. Before Sideways, Stack founded and sold Flashline, a software company, for $50 million. The company was later sold to the technology corporation giant, Oracle, for 8.5 billion dollars.
FlashStart offers a potential opportunity to promising young entrepreneurs. The accelerator will began accepting applications for their Summer 2014 program this January. If accepted, this program might help create that difficult bridge from idea to product.
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