Christine Ekman is the president of Evolve Adapt Survive. I had the pleasure of meeting her first in 2001 when I was running LayerOne and more recently this month while she was in town working with a client based here in Dallas.
Q: What is the elevator pitch for your company, Evolve Adapt Survive?
A: I usually describe what I do by describing my company name.
Evolve: I work with companies that are just starting out, helping to define their strategy, define their target customer and to raise capital if that’s required. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard, "Everyone needs this product" and "We have no competition". Startups need to be focused on a specific target market and understand all the factors that may prevent a potential customer from buying their product ( i.e. competition), it’s a key to success both in sales and raising capital.
Adapt: I also work with mature companies, both private and public, helping them to revive existing products or use their expertise to create products/services to address emerging markets. Repurposing existing intellectual property so to speak.
Survive: This work involves companies that are beyond continuing, for a multitude of reasons, and need to sell their assets.
Q: How long have you been in business? Who was your first client.
A: The original name of the company was N@tural Selection, founded in April of 1999. A legal notice arrived in 2002 telling me that another company had trademarked the Natural Selection name in 1996. I was shocked, I thought it was public domain, Darwin et. al. It happened right at the bottom of the market in 2002. I thought about putting up a fight, but the tag line for the company was "Evolve Adapt Survive" and people always liked that line. Besides, the @ was a pain in the neck because it triggers a URL name and it was time to practice what I was preaching, I needed to evolve and just change the name. Plus, the patent attorney said I would lose anyway and it’s a lot cheaper to listen to your attorney the first time he tells you, "Give it up".
My first client was IPIVOT. A friend from U S WEST was the CEO and they had been an OEM partner with Nortel Networks. I took a combination of monthly fee and equity for doing business development work. They ended up being bought by Intel for $500 M. It was the most fun, exciting and profitable experience I had ever been involved with, and it still ranks very high on the scale.
Q: What was your most interesting client/project? What would you do differently if you had a chance?
A: Believe it or not, I find each client interesting and I learn from every engagement. Consulting by its nature is problem solving. If there wasn’t a problem, clients wouldn’t need a consultant. My clients have been great (even the odd ones are a learning experience) and each idea has, in one way or another, had merit. If I had it to do over again I would have left the corporate world sooner, consulting suits me best.
Note: Alex wanted a "headshot" to go with this blog piece, I don’t have a headshot, but I attached a picture of me taking a picture. That’s what I think the role of a consultant should be, behind the scenes, observing what is taking place and trying to capture the clients best side. – Christine Ekman