With an engineering degree from MIT in the 1980s and having already started a computer consulting company when PCs were just being introduced, Chris Gladwin could have had a successful career working for a large technology company.
However, he decided to launch MusicNow hoping to revolutionize the way users obtain and store music recordings. But MusicNow could not generate profits on its own and was eventually sold to Circuit City.
Not to be deterred, Gladwin launched Cleversafe, Inc. This new project that he planned for nearly seven years and developed for five more eventually became a success. Instead of making a physical copy of data like CDs or flash drives do, Cleversafe converts data into different virtual equations that are stored on different servers, eliminating the risk of data being lost.
In addition to years without compensation while working on Cleversafe, Gladwin had to start his project all over again three years into the development to make the product more robust. The more engaged he was in the project, the more confident he became that he was on the right track.
Gladwin knew that his product was designed for larger companies, but the usual practice is to test a product on small companies first. As risky as it seemed, he decided to target large customers first.
He offered his services to the Chicago Museum of Broadcast Communications. The museum then became the reference point that Gladwin used to sign up large customers.
The gamble paid off as Cleversafe now has trial runs of its product with some of the largest technology companies in the world.
The company has seen substantial growth each year since inception. Sales have doubled or more than doubled in each of the last three years. Gladwin expects about 30 big customers next year, and he plans to invest this revenue back into Cleversafe by improving its sales force and expanding his technology team.
How to reach: Cleversafe, Inc., www.cleversafe.com