When Patrick Stoddart gets comparisons to "that guy who created Facebook," the reserved 18-year-old can't help but smile and remind himself that every successful technology entrepreneur had to start somewhere.
For Stoddart, the young creator of RED (Real-time events, delivered.), a text messaging service that notifies subscribers of upcoming events, the perfect place to get his start has been Pittsburg State University.
"I was offered scholarships at a lot of places, but based on the programs offered here, the feel of the campus, and the size of the school, I knew I wanted to come to PSU," said Stoddart, whose parents are alumni. "I really like the atmosphere here and I could tell right away that the faculty and courses were going to challenge me."
A 2010 graduate of Lee's Summit, one of the largest school districts in Missouri, it was when Stoddart began working as the web editor for his high school newspaper that he realized the system was lacking a comprehensive online events calendar. His teacher supported his proposal to create one, and soon Stoddart, a self-taught programmer whose only computer course had been a basic typing class in junior high, developed RED.
The system, among the first to combine text messaging, email alerts and event scheduling, now helps more than 5,000 parents, teachers and students at the Lee's Summit school district stay on schedule. After selling a three-year licensing agreement to the district last year, Stoddart is now focusing on marketing and selling his product to other schools, municipalities and churches.
Pretty ambitious for a double-majoring freshman enrolled in 22 hours this semester alone.
His efforts to build his company, Revdel, through which RED is sold (www.revdel.com) have been guided by PSU's Business and Technology Institute, which helps small businesses succeed.
"They're helping me with all the necessary phases of business development - finding investors, making presentations, making connections," he said. "There are a lot of things I have to do that just aren't in my area of expertise, which is where they are helping me so much."
With plans to attend education conventions and network with potential clients, Stoddart is working hard to make this, as well as future technology products, a helpful tool for others.
"Even if RED doesn't reach my goals, it has enabled me to be more business-minded," he said. "It's been a learning experience. It's taught me so much to just jump right in and do it."