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About Flashpoint

Deliberate Innovation

Flashpoint helps founders become proficient at leading a Deliberate Innovation process. Deliberate Innovators work to identify true non-indifference in their customers and build not just products that their customers want, but the products they cannot not buy. Deliberate Innovation is a new approach that was developed by applying research from behavioral economics - the science of how people make judgments; developmental psychology - the science of mapping the ways in which people might be immune to change; social psychology - the environmental forces that influence people’s behavior; and business fundamentals. This approach helps founders notice the biases, assumptions, and the situational paths that their customers are subject to and use these insights to build products their customers authentically demand.

The Flashpoint program offers founders training in deliberate innovation concepts and techniques, support in using those techniques, and provides a high level of individualized mentorship. Working with Flashpoint, founders generate business philosophies about customers and their situations. They then work toward actionable truth by testing to disconfirm these theories about customers, modifying them, and retesting. Deliberate Innovators apply this process methodically to develop a direct path to their customers and think clearly about their business.

The two stages of Startup Engineering
Flashpoint

The initial stage, called “Flashpoint,” takes approximately four months of full-time, committed work by at least two founders. About two/thirds of the startups that implement the program succeed in discovering valid, testable demand during this period.

Flash Forward

Startups then proceed to the second, “flash forward” phase. This stage, which takes approximately six months, manages the founders through a process of shaping products and companies that will, reliably and scalably, make money by enabling customers to overcome their constraints and attain their improvement goals.

Not all founders identify genuine demand in phase one, and not all companies that do identify demand can structure a business model for a profitable company to meet it. But the companies that succeed exit the process as strong candidates for B round funding, looking specifically for capital to scale.

Applications for Cohort 9

Flashpoint’s next cohort is expected to start this fall.

Flashpoint

FAQs

Deliberate Innovation is a process that helps founders learn principles and techniques to find genuine unmet demand and build scalable companies to satisfy it.

When is the next Cohort?

Flashpoint Applications for Cohort 9 are now open. Apply here.


Is Flashpoint an accelerator?

It’s more. Flashpoint helps founders manage their startups through a unique program that accelerates the process of finding authentic demand and building a company around it. Alumni and investors say that the Flashpoint program compresses more than a year of work into a short cohort, and often enables startups to move fast enough to avoid a round of funding.


What is Deliberate Innovation?

Deliberate Innovation is a new approach that was developed by applying research from behavioral economics - the science of how people make judgments; developmental psychology - the science of mapping the ways in which people might be immune to change; social psychology - the environmental forces that influence people’s behavior; and business fundamentals. This is the process we use to build startups. We partner with Georgia Institute of Technology’s Center for Deliberate Innovation to deliver the Flashpoint program. You can learn more here or watch our Director, Dr. Merrick Furst, describe it in a keynote here.

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How is it similar to accelerators I know about?

Common attributes: Many teams apply. Flashpoint filters and accepts about a dozen startups into every cohort. Each team receives a $20k investment from our associated investment fund. We connect teams with Flashpoint mentors and alumni who have expertise to offer the startups. The Flashpoint community has dinner together at special Tuesday night gatherings where teams present and Flashpoint alumni hang out with speakers who often fly in from the Bay Area, Boston or NYC. Teams work in a great shared space in Tech Square. Each Flashpoint cohort runs four months and we run two cohorts a year. At the end of each cohort, there are demo days for investors in Atlanta, NYC, and San Francisco.


I’m a serial entrepreneur, is there anything here for me?

Welcome. Nearly all Flashpoint founders have led startups before, and many of them have multiple, successful exits. Here’s one Flashpoint founder’s perspective: “I’ve built enough successful companies and divisions of companies to know something. At Flashpoint I learned to think and understand things in a new way. It’s changed how we’re building our current company and how I’ll build companies in the future.” (Kurt Uhlir)


Can you help us find additional funding?

Yes. Many active angel investors and venture firms with early-stage interests are looking to work with Flashpoint teams.


What’s the Flashpoint story?

In 2011, Georgia Tech Executive Vice President for Research Dr. Stephen E. Cross created an innovation task force to support the institution’s strategic plan. This task force was led by Associate Vice President for Research Dr. Ravi Bellamkonda, and College of Computing Distinguished Professor Dr. Merrick Furst. Flashpoint was one of the task force’s recommendations to foster entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Flashpoint@GeorgiaTech program has now stabilized into a program run by the Center for Deliberate Innovation at Georgia Tech, in partnership with Flashpoint Management Company (FPMC), a university spinout. Clients of FPMC include startup founders with dreams of for-profit and not-for-profit companies and large corporations. As of 2018, over 150 founders have gone through the Flashpoint program, and companies originated at Flashpoint have a market value of approximately $1.4 billion.


How are things going?

Since the program began in 2011, Flashpoint has developed a strong reputation for producing successful startups. To date, the Center for Deliberate Innovation at Georgia Tech has worked with eight cohorts of innovators in the Flashpoint program, five from Flashpoint Management Company. The first five-year numbers are promising. Founders have raised north of $300 million from leading venture capital firms, including Moseley Ventures, TechOperators, ff Venture Capital, Kleiner Perkins, Google Ventures, Andreesen Horowitz, Sigma Prime, New World Ventures, and Meritech Capital Partners. These startups have a market value of over $1.4 billion. Less than $3 million of local angel money was invested to achieve these results.

The work with corporate innovation teams has led to products in the market, Sleep Water for Coke in Japan, and to pull a product from market, when a Canadian multinational sold assets as a result of discovering there would be no market demand.


Who runs Flashpoint?

Dr. Merrick Furst is the Founder and Director of the Flashpoint program. After the programs continued success, Merrick Furst and San Francisco investor Matt Chanoff spun off Flashpoint program into the Flashpoint Management Company, an independent company, that works with the Center for Deliberate Innovation at Georgia Tech. Matt is the President of the Flashpoint Management Company. Merrick is the Founder and Director of the Center for Deliberate Innovation at Georgia Tech.

As the first Distinguished Professor at the College of Computing and Director of the Center for Deliberate Innovation at Georgia Tech, Merrick developed the deliberate innovation approach and the highly regarded Threads curriculum. Merrick is also the co-founder of internet security firm Damballa. Merrick was the founder and CEO of Essential Surfing Gear, a SF-based technology company acquired in 2001. Merrick was also president and director of the International Computer Science Institute at University of California at Berkeley.

Matt Chanoff is a co-director of Profounder LLC, a seed stage investment fund specializing in internet security and game technologies. He has led global electronics market consulting and forecasting projects since 1997. He has designed and implemented broad-scale market evaluations and market-entry strategies in the United States, China, and Southeast Asia for Fortune 500 companies in electronics manufacturing, components, high-tech materials, software, automotive market and aftermarket, chemicals, investment, and professional services. Matt has taught business planning and trade economics in Vietnam and China, and is a co-author of the China Trade Manual. Matt also serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards for companies in the internet security area and nonprofits in the areas of education and poverty alleviation.


How do we get in?

Apply.



What kind of teams are you looking for?

Flashpoint is interested in working with founders who can find value in learning to be deliberately innovative. New for Cohort 9, Flashpoint is also accepting applications from post-revenue startups that can benefit from this approach. We look for founders who have significant domain knowledge, have relevant technical expertise, and are demonstrably motivated to create scalable businesses. The deliberate innovation process requires founders to be committed full-time to their startups and to have strong working relationships. All things equal, we’d choose to work with exceptionally intelligent founders who are open in their thought processes, stable in temperament, conscientious in their ways, and relentlessly resourceful.



Can you apply as a solo founder?

Yes. However, we have a preference for teams of two or more. The deliberate innovation process represents a lot of work – it moves faster when you have a partner to share the load. It also requires a tremendous amount of self-reflection and change. This is easier when you have another person to help hold you accountable. That said, we have worked successfully with solo founders in the past.



Do we need to be affiliated with Georgia Tech to participate?

No.



Do we have to be in Atlanta for the program?

Ye. Flashpoint is a five-month full time program. This requires a full-time commitment and founders are expected to be present at Flashpoint during all required weekly sessions. This is not a requirement for post-revenue companies, who can also apply to Flahspoint for Cohort 9.



Is working in the Flashpoint space required during the program?

Yes, if you are a pre-revenue company. The Deliberate Innovation process is accelerated through experiential learning and there is a great deal of value placed on sharing knowledge and experience with other teams. Post-revenue companies don't have similar requirements, contact us to learn more.



Do we have to legally form a company before the program starts?

No. If you have a company, that is fine. If not, we will help you out.



We’ve already taken funding. Can we still apply?

Sure. For Cohort 9, Flashpoint is also accepting applications from post-revenue startups that can benefit from being deliberately innovative. Contact us to learn more about how Flashpoint can help you, if you are a post-revenue company.



Do we need to write a business plan?

No. We do not read business plans. Nobody does anymore. Not at this stage.



Our group has more than one idea. Can we submit more than one application?

Pick the one you like best. Experience tells us to be somewhat less interested in your idea than in your team.



We’ve already been working on our startup for a while. Is Flashpoint appropriate for us?

Yes. Deliberate Innovation practices and the Flashpoint program can help any startup and for Cohort 9, Flashpoint is accepting applications from both pre-revenue and post-revenue companies.



What if we’re doing something expensive?

Talk to us. The key is being able to get far enough along during the program to be of interest to later stage investors.



Will you sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA)? No. Then how do I know you won’t steal my idea?

We do not sign NDAs. Our ability to operate depends on our integrity, so we guard it carefully. More important, ideas are not very valuable in themselves. People and execution matters. As far as we can tell, no one wants to get rich on your great idea, because they want to get rich on their dumb one. And, they see the situation in reverse.



I work at a large company. Can I apply?

What would happen if entrepreneurs and innovators were able to work in an environment that protected them from the common cognitive biases and errors that so often result in startup failure and corporate innovation non-success? Could innovation be done with less risk?

Flashpoint founders have raised north of $300 million from leading venture capital firms, and their startups have a market value of over $1.2 billion. Less than $2 million of local angel money was invested to achieve these results. Similarly, work with alumni leaders in corporations has led teams to develop products in the market, Sleep Water for Coke in Japan, and to pull a product from market, when a Canadian multinational sold assets as a result of discovering there would be no market demand.

Our belief is that innovators - be they startup founders or working in corporate environments - can be reliably taught to recognize paths to failure and the deliberate innovation approach makes it possible to innovate with much less risk.

Flashpoint can help solve your corporate innovation problem. Ask us how.



Merrick Furst
Founder and Director
Distinguished Professor

Merrick is the founder of Georgia Tech’s Flashpoint, a first-of-its-kind startup engineering studio that develops and produces exceptional technology startup companies. He is Georgia Institute of Technology’s first “distinguished professor of computing”.

The GT “Threads” program in the College of Computing was his creation, and he is one of the three producers of The InVenture Prize, a live-broadcast tv show that NPR describes as American Idol for Nerds. Merrick is a co-founder of the internet security firm Damballa and is an early-stage fund investor.

Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Merrick was the founder and CEO of Essential Surfing Gear, an internet software company, which was acquired in 2000. At the University of California at Berkeley he served as president and director of the International Computer Science Institute, and he established its Center for Internet Research. Prior to Berkeley, Merrick was a professor and associate dean in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University.

Merrick is an inventor, recipient of the first Presidential Young Investigator Award in computer science, and early creator electronic post-it notes, which were best-sellers on PCs.

Matt Chanoff
President
Flashpoint Management Company

Matt Chanoff is co-manager of Profounder LLC, an early stage investment firm specializing in Internet security and game technology. He is also a consultant, researcher, and project manager for the electronics manufacturing industry.

Matt has led global electronics market consulting and forecasting projects since 1997. He has designed and implemented broad-scale market evaluations and market-entry strategies in the United States, China, and Southeast Asia for Fortune 500 companies in electronics manufacturing, components, high-tech materials, software, automotive market and aftermarket, chemicals, investment, and professional services.

Matt has taught business planning and trade economics in Vietnam and China, and is a co-author of the China Trade Manual. He is co-director of Profounder LLC, a seed stage investment fund specializing in internet security and game technologies. He serves on several corporate and nonprofit boards for companies in the internet security area and nonprofits in the areas of education and poverty alleviation.

Matt holds an Master of Arts in international economics and U.S. foreign policy from Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins.

Our Partners

Important Books

The Deliberate Innovation approach draws from various disciplines like behavioral economics, decision theory, developmental, social psychology. While we will teach you the basics in the program, the books listed below are references we highly recommend.

Thinking, Fast and Slow / Daniel Kahneman
Immunity to Change / Robert Kegan & Lisa Lahey
The Paradox of Choice / Barry Schwartz
The Power of Habit / Charles Duhigg
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion / Robert Cialdini

Questions?

If you have any questions about Flashpoint, send us a message.