Startup Stories: Your Emergency Network

Christine Sommers, CEO and Co-Founder of ePACT Network

Tell us about your entrepreneurial product or service.
ePACT is your emergency network, better connecting and protecting our communities. It is the single emergency record and support network for families, and the emergency management standard for organizations. By leveraging the power of online networking, ePACT helps families, friends and organizations share critical information and communicate through any crisis.

What inspired you to launch your business idea?
The inspiration for ePACT came from Ayumi, a friend of Kirsten and I. Ayumi is a single mother from Fukushima, Japan, where she lives with her two young daughters, aged 4 and 10. On the day of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan, Ayumi happened to be away on business. For 24 terrifying hours, she did not know if her kids were alive or not. Test messages, cell and landline phone services were all down. She eventually reached her mother via email, and was able to communicate through the web as she worked to reunite with her family. Her story inspired us to research the state of emergency preparedness and response in North America, where we found shocking gaps across our communities.

What problem does your business or organization solve?
Preparedness at every level! The vast majority of organizations we rely on everyday use paper forms to collect and manage emergency information, often without adequate communication capabilities in case of a crisis. Families are not building their own support networks, and overall, our communities are facing greater struggles as we watch natural and man-made disasters increase. The internet, built to withstand WWIII, is the best communicate channel in any crisis. So why do we have networks to share our vacation photos, what we ate for dinner, discounts on shoes, or ways to enhance our careers, but do not have a network dedicated to helping us in emergencies? The convergence of increasing disasters and enhanced networking technologies produced the exact right time to launch ePACT.

What has been your biggest challenge as an entrepreneur and how are you working to overcome it?
The feeling that you can never do enough or move fast enough can sometimes seem overwhelming. There have been many times I have pushed myself too hard, pulling all-nighters, or working long hours 7 days a week without giving my body or mind breaks to regroup. More and more I see the value of taking a full day off and breaks during the day, not checking email or picking up the computer. Not only is the quality of work improved, but sometimes the best answers to questions come when you aren’t thinking about it. That said, it is still a struggle and my biggest challenge is getting myself into a routine to also incorporate regular exercise into my ridiculously packed schedule.

Give us one word that people might use to describe you.

How has Project Eve helped you and/or your business?
The wealth of content has helped me immensely. Working in a male dominated industry, it’s refreshing to have a source like Project Eve which is specifically designed for female entrepreneurs! I regularly use the business articles, from how to improve SEO, to social media strategies, to networking advice, there’s never a shortage of useful content.

Give us an insider tip that relates to your industry or startup story.
Actively solicit advice because you really ‘don’t know what you don’t know.’ Other areas you can read a book, take a course, or learn as you go. With a start-up, you move so fast, it’s easy to make mistakes that cost money, time, and resources that derail. Every penny and second counts, so listen to those who’ve done it before, then move smarter, faster and avoid pitfalls.

Company: ePACT Network


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