Creating opportunity
How Unanswered Texts Led Military Veteran Sharon Standifird to Start Her Own Business
Free Enterprise Staff | May 27, 2016

Like any parent, Sharon Standifird wants her children to answer her calls and texts when she contacts them. Yet unlike most parents, when her son continued ignoring her digital overtures, she set out on a quest to create an app that would, well, force him to do just that.

“Last year around this time, I started talking to my husband about the situations we were having with the family,” Standifird says. “The real frustrating and repeating one was that our kids were not answering our calls or texts when we needed to touch base or have them do something for us. And so I decided to start my own company and get in to developing apps.”

Her frustration, it turns out, was quite motivating, fueling a yearlong effort that resulted in Ignore No More, which Standifird released this past summer through Mountaineer Technology Ventures, the company she founded. Currently available in the Amazon and Android stores, the app is simple to use: Once installed, it gives parents the ability to lock their kids’ smartphones by entering a password. Unlocking the app—which, Standifird stresses, never prevents a user from dialing 911—requires the recalcitrant child to call back his or her mom or dad.

Coming up with the idea was easy, Standifird says, but building it was a different matter entirely. “The internet is a great tool,” she says. “I just sat down and spent several weeks looking at articles, researching, and taking some good notes. From there, once I felt like I had my hands around what I wanted to do, I just started going through my stuff and executing the plan that I had created.”

Learning app development on her own was not something that Standifird had ever anticipated she would do. When she set out to create what would become Ignore No More, she was working in a decidedly different professional arena. “I had been in the military for about 11 years and had been teaching for about six years after that,” she says.

“It’s just an app that I felt there was a need for in my family, and I think a lot of other families feel the same way. I was definitely outside of my comfort zone, and it’s still a learning process for me with a lot of sleepless nights, but I enjoy it. I’m the type of personality—and you can ask my husband or my friends—I like challenges. And, in fact, I am driven by them. I set goals for myself, and I like to work toward those goals. The app was just another challenge for me.”

Drawing on the discipline and organizational skills she honed while serving, the military veteran turned entrepreneur nonetheless faced a number of setbacks when she sat down to build the app from scratch. All her preparation, she says, couldn’t prepare her—or anyone, for that matter—for what the actual process entails.

“Even though I did research, it’s kind of like baking a cake,” she says. “Until you really get in there, put your hands on it, and start dealing with the process, you don’t learn about all of these other little steps that go along with it. And I’m still learning! When I went in with my plans I never anticipated what would happen after. I underestimated the maintenance that comes after you’ve built an app, and things like dealing with servers and software updates.”

Yet even with all of its challenges, app development remains the sole focus of Mountaineer Technology Ventures. “I’m going to stay in the app development,” Standifird says. “I really have enjoyed the process, and I have some other app ideas that are related around family issues. Ignore No More has also opened doors for us, because we realized that this can be used in many different arenas. We’re hopefully going to take its main feature into new arenas too, including businesses.”

As Standifird talks about the future, it’s evident that she has a clear vision of how her company can grow. Misbehaving children of the world, be on alert.