Lincoln Center is one of the most iconic event spaces in the world, home to the Metropolitan Opera, New York Philharmonic, New York City Ballet, renowned theater spaces and much more. The facilities that comprise Lincoln Center host approximately 5 million visitors a year.
You can imagine that it was quite a feather in our cap to engage Lincoln Center who would eventually become one of the first customers for our original product, Evolv Edge. Driving down to New York to demonstrate a prototype, Rick Abraham and I were as excited as could be.
Unfortunately, that excitement didn’t last too long. Nothing went according to plan. Try as we might, we couldn’t get the system to work the way we knew it should. It was an early prototype. When you’re in field sales, you know that these things happen. But Rick and I were devastated. We were supposed to go on to visit other customers but, instead, we got in the car and headed back up to Boston. It was one of the longest car rides of my life.
I can tell that story now because it has a happy ending. The team at Lincoln Center not only stood by us, they helped us make our product better. They told us in no uncertain terms we had to make our solutions faster to get their patrons safely to their seats in time for their performances. So, we did.
They were demanding in the best ways possible and have become like family to us. Their security team includes several former members of the New York Police Department. They lost colleagues in 9/11 and, like us, have a desire to fulfill a mission that’s larger than themselves. They were patient and helpful because they believe making the world a safer place through innovative technology is worthwhile. Because they believed in us, we would do anything for them. There were many times I worked through the night and took a cat nap in my car, safe in their parking garage.
Listening to the Customer
Learning from customers is an important part of our mission at Evolv. Out in the field, I find that many of the people I work with share the same sense of mission, just like the team at Lincoln Center. It is one of the things that attracted me to Evolv and one of the things I love about my job. It doesn’t hurt that security tends to attract a lot of serious and smart people, and many of them also happen to have a great sense of humor.
Being on the front lines with customers, I’ve been known to come back to headquarters with a suggestion or two every once in a while. Well, maybe more than once in a while. From my perspective, I like to think the company counts on me to bring in ideas from the field—and I’m grateful to our leadership because they always listen.
I can think of many instances where feedback from the field ended up in our products. The idea of incorporating a rear camera in the Express came from another customer where a patron voiced a complaint, with the scans from the rear camera, we were able to help resolve the dispute.
With another customer, we were trying to figure out how to get our systems into place easily and quickly. It may seem like a simple fix, but working with the customer’s specific problem, we figured out that we needed to have longer mats—and that’s the product we have today.
A Higher Purpose
From a personal standpoint, I view my own mission as doing something bigger than myself, using work as a way to achieve a higher purpose in life. My mission is to do things to help keep people safe.
Safety is a front and center problem in the world, even more so in our country with the proliferation of automatic weapons. My daughter is a schoolteacher. She has to explain to her students what’s going on when we have shootings like the recent events in Atlanta and in Boulder. The state of the world and the desire for safety touches everyone, in a personal way.
At Evolv, as we continue to grow, it’s important that we bring on all different kinds of people who are like-minded about our mission. We need an army of good people to bring our mission to the world. I used to worry a little bit, being a little bit older myself, are these new young guys and gals we’re bringing in going to make me obsolete? But the people we are bringing on are fantastic and it makes me feel great to be working with these younger folks. They are furthering our mission: To keep people safe in as many places as we can.