Charles Stack: Co-Founder, CEO
Charles Stack is a successful serial entrepreneur. After graduation from Case Western Reserve University Law School, he formed Parallax, Inc., which developed and marketed a PC-based networking case management software system for asbestos litigation to national law firms and corporate law departments.
In 1992, Charles started Books.com, the first online bookstore. Charles pioneered many of the features we now take for granted in today’s internet retailers. Books.com offered millions of books, comprehensive searching, collaborative recommendations (patented), shopping carts, price comparisons (patented), real-time credit card processing, affiliate programs, and introduced many other now standard Internet retailing concepts. Books.com was acquired by CUC, Inc. in early 1996 and subsequently by Barnes and Noble. At CUC, Charles designed and launched groundbreaking sites for online music sales, movies, gifts, computer software, and games.
In 1998, he founded Flashline to address the new opportunity in software components and web services. After navigating Flashline through the technology meltdown of 2001-2003, Charles focused Flashline on the expanding web services management market and created the leading web services repository solution with multiple patents. BEA Systems, Inc. acquired Flashline in 2006. BEA was acquired by Oracle in 2008 and the Flashline product remains the core offering in Oracle’s web services suite. Charles has mentored, advised, and/or invested the first money in several notable startups including OnShift, DecisionDesk, eFuneral, Skritter, and iGuiders.
In 2000, Charles won the Infoworld E-Business Innovator Award for his contributions to Internet Retail along with Tim-Berners-Lee (WWW), Dr. James Gosling (Java), Jeff Hawkins (Palm Pilot), Richard Stallman (GNU), Times Howes (LDAP), and Phil Zimmerman (PGP).
Charles won the Ohio Venture Association (OVA) Venture of the Year award in 2007 and served on the OVA board until 2010. He has mentored and/or been a judge at numerous business plan and startup competitions including the recent Startup Weekend Cleveland and the 11 regional University iDeaLabs competition. He is a very frequent speaker at investment, startup, and entrepreneurship conferences as well as regularly sharing his experiences with classes of students at nearly every university in the region.
In 2013 Stack co-founded Flashstarts – a startup accelerator and micro-venture fund. In 2015 Stack co-founded 35,000 sq.ft. StartMart – one of the largest co-working facilities in the world.