There aren’t many sub $100 million technology companies that can boast of a strong patent portfolio. Cleversafe is that rare exception, and hence, a tremendously valuable company with robust revenue growth in a $20 billion market.
Sramana: Chris, let’s start with your background. Where are you from? What is the genesis of your entrepreneurial journey?
Chris Gladwin: I was born and raised in Ohio. Like you, I went to MIT, which was transformative for me. It opened my eyes with respect to technology and technology-based businesses. That led to me becoming a technology entrepreneur.
Sramana: What timeframe were you at MIT and what Course?
Chris Gladwin: I was Course 2. I was there from 1982 to 1986.
Sramana: I went there a bit after you in 1993. I went there in the PhD program but left with a masters to work full time for my first company, which I had started as a graduate student.
Chris Gladwin: I also started my first company while I was at MIT. When I was a sophomore, I took a course at the Sloan school, which was one of the first technology entrepreneurship courses taught in any college. I was not a graduate student, but I registered and they did not stop me.
A big part of the class was writing a business plan. At the time, there was a new product that had just come out and I felt it had a lot of potential. I wanted to start a company to do consulting, programming, and installation for this new product. The product was the IBM personal computer. I was quickly able to become an expert because the concept of the PC was so new.
I had a fair amount of success building a consulting company that had big clients like Blue Cross and Blue Shield. That was my first taste of technology entrepreneurship, back in 1984.
Sramana: How long did you do that? Did you keep it going until after you graduated?
Chris Gladwin: I did keep it going for a while after I graduated, although I eventually wound it down. It was a consulting company. It was the kind of thing where you had to work at it in order to make some money. After I graduated, I took a job with Lockheed Martin and worked in the corporate standards group evaluating personal computer, networking, and storage products. I made standard product lists for that corporation.
Sramana: How long did you stay at Lockheed Martin?
Chris Gladwin: I stayed there for about 5 and a half years.