High school side project grows into full-time business for Revdel founder
What started for Patrick Stoddart as an idea to make extracurricular groups more functional when he was in high school in Lee's Summit, Mo. has turned into a full-blown startup.
At 16, Stoddart founded RED by Revdel, a web-based application that allows large organizations to communicate with and engage their members. Now 20, Stoddart launched the beta of RED (which stands for real-time events delivered) 2.0 this week for one of his clients.
When most people think of notification and communication software used by school districts, they think of snow day and school lockdown alerts. But that’s not what RED is used for, Stoddart said.
“That is kind of the standard in the industry," he said. "In my opinion, that is pushing out a product that they think schools need more than addressing the actual need."
“RED divides out a lot more into each little organization within the school,” Stoddart added. “ For example, the Spanish Club sponsor can send out a message to Spanish Club kids. … That’s something a lot of other programs don’t do. The types of messages sent out are more day-to-day routine type of messages, rather than five or six per year."
Throughout his junior and senior years at Lee’s Summit High School, Stoddart created RED. Once he got about 1,000 students and parents signed up for the service, the school began to officially support the software.
Eventually, Lee’s Summit began paying for the RED, and Stoddart (left) trained the faculty how to use it. Then, other schools within the district were interested as well.
Now, just two years after graduating from high school, Stoddart has clients using RED in Pittsburg, Kan., Kansas City and many parts of Missouri outside of St. Louis, about half of which are school districts. The other half of RED's client base is made up of athletic leagues, chambers of commerce, nonprofits, churches and government organizations.
“They really are a result of people willing to experiment with how this product will be used for their organization, giving it a try and seeing how it goes,” he said.
RED is free for group members, such as parents and students in the case of a school district. At the organization level, there is a yearly or monthly fee based on the user subscription number.
“For a school district, they’re going to pay X number per student for 20,000 enrolled students,” Stoddart explained. “But then they’re allowed to have as many subscribers as they want. They’re allowed to bring in parents, school members and journalists as well.”
This week, Stoddart launched the beta of RED 2.0, which brings in events and RSVPs, for Lee's Summit North High School.
“With RED 2.0, I could RSVP to a football banquet, or to the fall musical, or to prom and actually pay through RED with a credit card for a ticket,” he said. “So (it's) like Eventbrite for organizations with a lot of events going on.”
Now, Stoddart said he is looking to expand throughout the Midwest and has started the search for investment.
“I’ve gathered a good amount of interest from several parts of the Midwest,” Stoddart said. “Still working through that process.”
Stoddart also recently made some tough decisions regarding his future. This past spring, after finding his time divided between schoolwork and meetings with potential business clients, Stoddart stopped attending Pittsburg State University in order to work on Revdel full time.
“It came to the point where I realized I couldn’t do both at once. I figured, there may only be one opportunity for me to pursue this business venture, there will be plenty of opportunities to go back to school,” he said. “Who knows? Maybe the business venture will provide me with the ways and means to go back to school, or maybe I won’t ever need to.”
For more information about RED by Revdel, see the short video below.
Credits: Photo of Stoddart and video from revdel.com.