Tal Cohen has lived the American dream; interesting for a man who has lived more than half his life in Israel.
Born in the Jewish State in the mid-‘60s, Cohen from his earliest days had a driving curiosity to understand how mechanical objects worked. He spent hours taking apart and reassembling common objects like locks, clocks, small motors, radios and many other devices.
After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Israeli Navy and served aboard submarines, a role in which he was able to continue his passion for learning how mechanical devices functioned.
Upon completing his Naval service, Cohen attended Tel Aviv University, earning a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and graduating magna cum laude. Soon after that, he came to Georgia Tech to further his studies, earning his Ph.D. in engineering in 1995 and – “along the way” – a master’s degree in computer science.
With these commendations, he was offered and accepted a faculty position at GT. From ’96 to 2000, he served as a full-time professor at the school, meanwhile developing a keen interest in data analytics and authoring numerous articles on data modeling and engineering information systems.
In pursuing his personal passion for data analytics, Cohen – who now holds several patents in the aforementioned area – acquired an expertise that inspired several large companies to pursue his help. Among his early consulting clients were General Motors, Boeing, the U.S. Air Force and several large financial institutions.
By the turn of the millennium, the entrepreneur could sense that his data mining talents could form the basis of a new company. Thus, he – along with a friend from the Israeli Navy – founded ClickFox, which has become a pioneer and global market leader in providing Customer Behavior Intelligence (CBI) software and related service to a wide range of corporate customers.
It is safe to say that most major financial institutions worldwide now use ClickFox’s services. What’s more, the company has the distinction of being the first in Georgia to receive significant funding from Israel and today employs more than 100 people and has a multi-million dollar revenue stream.
Mentor and Investor
Following his success with ClickFox, Cohen continued to serve as an adjunct professor at Georgia Tech and still remains active in analyzing, reviewing, guiding and financing unique technology oriented for start-up companies. These efforts were formalized in 2011, when Georgia Tech established the start-up business accelerators program called Flashpoint.
The program’s goal is to accelerate the start-up process of extraordinary entrepreneurs by providing them access to experienced mentors, experts and investors via an intense four-month process that forces all parties to become highly focused and places them on a fast track to validate the technology and commercialize its potential. Cohen brings some unique skills to this new role and the start-up process in general.
For example, Cohen says that while the practice used by traditional venture capital firms is to rely too much on capital – which makes these firms less likely to understand the technology they finance and become involved in day-to-day operations – he believes much insight into a technology’s commercial potential can be gained before large amounts of capital are committed. Capital, he thinks, can lead to complacency, while scarce capital forces all to become creative, inventive and totally dedicated on a quick time table.
Finally, Cohen further supports start-ups through financing vehicle My Seed Tech Fund. In line with the approach described above, the Fund operates on permanent capital which can easily be supplemented should the need arise. The Fund’s investors are individuals with prior venture capital experience and does not include institutional funds.
More on Cohen
Cohen serves the community by being an active member of the American Israel Chamber of Commerce, for which he is a member of the Board of Directors, Executive Committee and High Tech Committee.
Beyond the business world, his greatest passion in life is being the father to four young daughters and husband to highly regarded CNN medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen.
BY AL SHAMS / AJT CONTRIBUTOR
Editors Note: Al Shams is a Sandy Springs resident and an investment professional with more that 35 years industry experience. Readers wishing to learn more about the above subjects can visit aiccse.org, flashpoint.gatech.edu, clickfox.com or myseedtechfund.com.