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Meet Atta Tarki of Ex-Consultants Agency in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Atta Tarki.

Atta, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I was born in Iran and grew up in the country side of Sweden. My family took a sabbatical and came to LA for a year when I was 16. Initially, it was a big shock coming from a town of 25,000 people to a place like LA; however, it didn’t take long before I fell in love with LA and decided that I wanted to come back one day. I went back to Sweden to finish high school and college and as I was looking to line up a job upon graduating from college, I was focused on companies that could get me to LA. One of the firms I had interned with, L.E.K. Consulting, told me that if I started working within their German office, they would eventually try to get me to LA. I accepted their offer, spent 2 years out of their office in Munich, Germany, and then finally made my way back to LA, spending the next 4 years out of their office in Westwood Village close to UCLA.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
No, it has definitely not been a smooth road. I was 30 when I left consulting and stepped into this business. I have learned a lot and we have become better at a number of things since then. Many of my colleagues in consulting went off to get their MBA and are now, a few years later, trying something entrepreneurial. I sometimes joke that this was my own customized MBA. Like in any good training program, I got a few things right, but if I would have gotten everything right from the beginning I would have been disappointed that the training was too easy.

I think one of the biggest things I learned was to dial down my own excitement about new ideas and instead listen carefully to what problems my clients wanted to solve.

When you are starting a business, there are a lot of people who give you high fives and encourage you to pursue your ideas. Later on, when I brought some of these ideas to market, we discovered that few people were actually willing to pay for these solutions. I therefore learned that it’s helpful to ask clients if they are willing to pre-order a product or solution before it’s developed. That often times leads to very clear feedback. If they are not willing to pay for it now, or at least sign up to do so later, they are unlikely to pay for it once you have developed it.

Ex-Consultants Agency – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
It was during my 6 years at L.E.K. that I came up with the idea for my business. A number of my friends would reach out and tell me they’d love to have a top-tier strategy consultant help them, but they couldn’t afford the high fees required for a full team at a major consulting firm. They knew that if they could find an independent consultant, they could receive a lot of the value for a fraction of the budget. However, they would often times fail to find an independent consultant with the right skill set. I therefore founded Ex-Consultants Agency to fill this need. We have formed a network of independent consultants and match them with the needs of businesses who are looking for a more cost-effective solution. Now close to 7 years later, we have 60 internal employees and work with thousands of independent consultants.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Positive impact.

This is true for most of the things I do. This certainly applies to why and how we are helping our clients. We try to understand how we can have a positive impact on their business. However, this is also true for how we define success with our own employees. For instance, even if we are a relatively small firm, we have tried to put together training programs that help our employees grow and achieve their own goals.

That’s why I also engage in my community. For instance, I am a Board Member at Beautify Earth. We are a local non-profit that engages and empowers members of our community to drive forward positive change. We have done that through installing 100s of murals and other art installations to date. Our co-operation partners range from inspiring entrepreneurs such as Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, to community leaders such as Mayor Eric Garcetti.

Contact Info:

  • Address: Ex-Consultants Agency
    2425 Olympic Blvd, Suite 4000 W
    Santa Monica, CA 90404
  • Website:
  • Phone: 205.901.5531
  • Email:

Image Credit:
Kristina Sado

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