The conversation sheds light on the journey of Thomas Castner, CEO and co-founder of Flash PCB. The conversation covers Thomas’ background, the company’s unique value proposition, its recent funding from SBIR, and the challenges they face in the day-to-day operations.

Thomas, a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and Carnegie Mellon University, discussed his entrepreneurial journey and the founding of Flash PCB, a company specializing in fast PCB assembly services. Highlighting his extensive experience in designing hardware for startup companies, Thomas emphasized the company’s focus on providing fast and reliable PCB assembly services for small and medium-sized businesses, especially those lacking the internal prototyping resources of larger corporations.

The conversation delved into the complexities of the SBIR funding process, providing valuable insights for other entrepreneurs seeking non-dilutive funding. Thomas shared his experiences with the application process, highlighting the meticulous nature of the documentation required and the lengthy timeline from application to fund disbursement. He also touched upon the impact of the funding, which will be used to enhance the company’s AI capabilities and scale its operations.

The interview also shed light on the company’s business goals and strategies. Key performance indicators, such as board failure rates, manufacturer cycle times, and cost tracking, are crucial to the company’s operational success. Thomas emphasized the importance of maintaining a lean and efficient operation while continually striving to improve and deliver on customer expectations.



(00:00:46) – The founding story of FlashPCB by CEO Thomas Kastner

(00:04:13) – Optimizing PCB Manufacturing Processes at FlashPCB

(00:07:09) – Collaboration and real-time design changes with AI

(00:09:53) – The SBIR FlashPCB Grant: Background and Process

(00:13:31) – The SBIR program and its different phases

(00:15:14) – The NSF application process for Advanced Manufacturing

(00:17:58) – The lengthy process of SBIR funding applications

(00:19:49) – The long journey of applying for funding

(00:22:06) – The process of audit review in working grants

(00:24:33) – Understanding and using the NSF funding program

(00:27:39) – The importance of KPIs in a start-up

(00:30:55) – Tracking and Compliance in Startup Scaling

(00:33:14) – Football in High School vs. College – A Business Shift

(00:35:39) – Engineer as CEO: Book recommendations for business success

(00:37:33) – Challenges and thoughts as an entrepreneur


Books Mentioned in this Episode

Predictable Revenue: Turn Your Business Into a Sales Machine with the $100 Million Best Practices of by Aaron Ross and Marylou Tyler

The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses by Eric Ries


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