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So much for the wisdom that you'll never amount to anything without a college degree. While on schedule to graduate with honors in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University, Chris Evans dropped out in his senior year to concentrate on the software company he and three friends started as college freshmen.

"My professors just didn't know what to do when I said, 'Sorry, I couldn't make your exam because I was at Comdex,'*" said Mr. Evans.

Nobody sneered in 1994, when Mr. Evans and his partners sold DaVinci Systems Corp., then one of the leading corporate e-mail systems, for a profit to ON Technology Corp.

He launched Hot-linx, a publishing company whose magazines specialize in the computer industry and carry no editorial copy, just ads. When he moved Hotlinx (www. to the Web, however, Mr. Evans faced a problem: There was no efficient way to rotate online ads. When he asked friends in the publishing industry if they knew of any solution, "The universal response was, 'We're not doing anything about it either, but let us know if you find something.' You hear that enough times in a row and you start thinking about starting a software company again," he said.

So Mr. Evans founded Accipiter, and in less than a year, the company is close on the heels of NetGravity in the online advertising management software sector. The company has successfully managed to win as customers some of the Internet's largest Web sites, including Lycos, CNET, ZDNet, Digital Cities and Prodigy.

Accipiter, in case you're wondering, is a type of small hawk, though Mr. Evans candidly admits he chose the name so it would be listed first alphabetically among competitors.

Betcha didn't know: Mr. Evans is a musician who wrote the music for his wedding, and Accipiter's "theme" music is due on the Web site shortly.

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