At Salt Flats, our purpose is to make businesses smarter and faster, while helping turn new ideas into business innovations. Our members are the forward-thinking leaders who understand that the best way to prepare for the future is to create the future.
We’re excited to introduce you to our team here at Salt Flats, who come from diverse backgrounds, are experienced in disruption and have the expertise to help build your company. This week, we’ll hear from our Co-founder & CEO, David Borlo, an entrepreneur, startup advisor, investor and leader in results-based corporate innovation for the past 25 years.
Q: What's your background?
I’m a 25-year entrepreneur who has been lucky enough to be involved in multiple roles and industries over my career. Over the years, my responsibilities have included being a startup founder / CEO, startup board member, startup advisor and mentor, and venture capitalist, angel investor.
Q: Tell us about some career highlights.
The most exciting times I’ve had have always been focused around disrupting business models using new methods and technology. I was the founder of Allure Fusion Media, which disrupted the printing distribution and fulfillment industry by creating the first fully networked and web-based digital menu board for McDonalds in 1999. Allure invented dozens of digital signage firsts, some of my favorites including the first outdoor, web-based and POS connected digital menu systems.
I also ran business development for DVDPlay, the innovative technology behind RedBox. The DVDPlay technology and business model played a major role in the disruption of the DVD movie rental industry in 2007 and is a common use case for the media and entertainment digitalization over the last decade.
Q: What inspired you to create Salt Flats?
After DVDPlay, my partner and I created the first of its kind venture production company called Crestlight. Crestlight is an early stage venture investment firm, specializing in bringing process and capital to early stage startups, a next-level startup accelerator program. As Crestlight took off an interesting market reaction was taking place at the same time. Corporations were reaching out to us requesting help in navigating the new digitally disruptive world they found themselves in. Combining this Crestlight feedback with the understanding of what happens when corporate strategies fail to incorporate market changes (Blockbuster, ToysRUs, RadioShack, etc.) we began seriously investigating the opportunity in front of us. The fact that the life expectancy of a Fortune 500 company today is only 15 years is very telling of the disruptive nature of the market.
Q: What does Salt Flats do?
Salt Flats is an entirely new approach to corporate strategy, innovation and talent development. Built from the ground up using unique internal methodologies and startups, incubators and accelerator success stories, we have created a first of its kind Innovation House. In one building, under one roof, we help corporations use our proprietary services and programs so that they may harness the wild change in the market and create real wealth for their company.
We are different from a traditional management consultant or business incubator program in that our services start at the seed of an idea and extend through the establishment of the business model. We use a collective intelligence based workshop to find and hone the challenges to be solved, we employ a technology team and rich ecosystem to quickly pilot solutions and establish ideal business models through commercialization services.
Q: How does Salt Flats approach innovation strategy differently?
Salt Flats created an innovative program that is optimized for the market disruption that is occurring in this digitally disruptive world. We have found that simply repositioning legacy models won’t work, which is why we are a group of startup entrepreneurs, design thinkers, engineers, investors and lean startup specialists. Legacy ‘plan and control’ models used by large consultancies do not have the pace and scale of our ‘explore, experiment and discover’ model.
The Innovation House is a very unique asset used by our corporate clients. We offer access to a 45,000 SQ. FT. purpose built building in the West Loop of Chicago. Salt Flats membership is special in that the members are curated based on their participation in the built environment industry, thus creating a powerful ecosystem. The rooms at Salt Flats Innovation House are designed for workshops, technology prototyping, co-working and socializing. Getting corporations outside of the four walls and into our Innovation House is a huge differentiator. Legacy thinking, fear of failure, hierarchical structures, and tunnel vision/echo chambers are proven psychological barriers that exist within traditional corporate offices. To truly change the way you act you need a place designed for action.
We focus on building and deploying, not research, reports or advice. Each member, through the Salt Flats Innovation House, immediately has access to our developer teams, prototype teams, startups, IP, industries, technologies and backgrounds that would never occur elsewhere, which is light years beyond the traditional business incubator programs.
Q: How does Salt Flats differ from typical incubators & startup accelerators?
Business Incubators and startup accelerators are focused on startup development. Salt Flats Innovation House is focused on corporate development & corporate innovation. With an incubator program, a corporation is a passive sponsor that can participate in events and some programing. With an Innovation House, such as Salt Flats Innovation House, you are a client focused on building your corporate strategy and changing your culture to adapt to the digital transformation of the market.
Q: What emerging technology are you most excited about in 2018 and why?
Artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, blockchain, and internet of things. These technology platforms provide the best opportunity for new business model creation, market disruption and innovation acceleration. 2018 will be an exciting year.
To learn more about the innovation taking place at Salt Flats, visit our website at www.saltflats.co.