Rescoper startup uses artificial intelligence to go from project management to project completion
21-year-old gets help from Covington accelerator
Kevin Eigelbach | WCPO contributor
8:00 AM, Jan 28, 2017
COVINGTON, Ky. -- Good things do come from kids playing video games.
In the case of Rob Clark, that good thing is Rescoper, a local startup that uses artificial intelligence to help people plan projects and keep them on track.
As a boy, Clark had a natural love for playing video games, and in middle school he started creating them, which led him to build websites.
After graduating Centerville High School in 2013, he became an intern with Teradata in Miamisburg, a data analytics company. That became a full-time job as a software engineer.
On the job, his team often found that projects got bogged down because time-consuming features were added or because it wasn’t clear how the work was progressing.
"We were spending more time managing projects than actually working on them," he said.
He also found that the existing project management software wasn’t much of an improvement over the traditional process of putting sticky notes on a white board. "The work you put on them mirrored it right back to you," he said.
That’s when he began to build Rescoper.
Rescoper takes your to-do list and uses it to fill the empty spaces in your calendar, Clark said. It monitors your progress toward goals and alerts you if you’re at risk of missing a deadline.
As it gets to know your work habits, he said, it can tell you when it thinks you’ve planned less time than you need for a certain task based on how long it’s taken in the past.
In September 2015, Clark left his job at Teradata to work full time on Rescoper and got involved in the startup community. There, he met Brad Zapp, a partner in the Covington venture capital firm Connetic Ventures. Folks at Connetic Ventures introduced him to someone they thought would make a perfect partner for Rescoper -- Shane Young, the creator of SharePoint911, which Young sold in 2012 to Rackspace.
Young and Clark did indeed become partners, with Young handling the operations side of the business. Last year, they were accepted into the Covington business accelerator UpTech, and they’re preparing now for UpTech’s next demo day in February.
The company plans to launch a new interface in early February, Clark said, and has hired a contractor to build a mobile app.
Rescoper just kicked off a seed round of pitches to potential investors, Clark said, aimed at raising $700,000 to expand Rescoper’s online platform and integrate it with popular calendar apps such as Calendly. Young and Clark also plan to start marketing Rescoper and hope to form partnerships with top minds in the project management space, such as the Project Management Institute.
Rescoper now has about 1,000 users, all of whom found out about the product purely through word of mouth, Clark said. One of them is Zapp, who said Rescoper does two things really well:
It tells him what he needs to work on right now, so he doesn’t get stuck on what to do next;
It tells him if he has time to schedule another meeting or appointment, considering all the other things he has to do.
“Rescoper really gets me," Zapp said.
The company makes money by charging subscribers $10 to $15 a month, Clark said. It’s making a profit, he said, but he declined to disclose the financial numbers. He’s paying himself a salary now, he said, after not taking one for eight months.
It was hard, at first, to leave the security of a good-paying job with benefits, he said, but his only regret now is that he didn’t do it sooner.
Everyone told him entrepreneurship was a roller coaster, but he said he didn’t realize how true that was until he experienced it for himself.
“Some days it just seems like everything is crashing … but the next week is fantastic," he said. “One of the key things about having a co-founder is that you might have a bad day when he’s having a good day. It helps balance things out."
The 21-year-old now sees himself as a serial entrepreneur.
“I feel like I have a natural passion for trying to improve the way things work," he said.