How UCF incubator helped radio DJ-turned-entrepreneur thrive

Robert Catron points to a specific moment in his career that led to what has become a 20-year entrepreneurial journey.

As a rock station DJ in Virginia Beach, he was the only person who understood software extensively.

So, it was only natural that in the early days of the Internet, he maintained the station’s website. At the time, DJs had to remain on air until their replacement arrived.

Robert Catron

One night, well, the replacement did not arrive. The reason?

“He was at a concert in D.C. about four hours away,” Catron recalled, laughing. “I don’t know if it was legit or not but, either way, it was a failure of communication of some kind.”

The incident sparked an idea in Catron, who had been exploring this brand-new thing called the Internet, hoping to build a business around it somehow.

With the mix-up fresh in his mind, he whipped up a scheduling application that allowed the crew to check from anywhere who was scheduled and who was not.

Now, 20-plus years later, WorkSchedule.Net recently launched its 9th version, counting clients like CNN among its customers.

“They’re the ones doing the scheduling,” Catron said. “We just provide the tool for them to schedule their employees.”

Catron admits that, on its surface, scheduling isn’t exactly a super-exciting field. But he said sometimes utility is more important than excitement.

It’s a simple, but flexible, tool. Within the platform, employees can perform specific tasks like check-in, punch into an online clock, request time off and other functions.

The software takes care of the rest, ensuring that employees don’t go over hours and helping figure out the best schedule for those who are in the system.

One example is if someone calls out of a shift, the software immediately finds who is available to work the shift without eclipsing their allotment of hours.

“Instead of getting the call that, ‘Hey, I can’t come in because I’m at a Jethro Tull concert,’ the software helps provide alternatives instantly,” he said.

As the company’s revenue grew – from a mere $500 in Year 1 – Catron became involved in the UCF Business Incubation Program in 2010.

By 2013, he had hired several interns, who helped him discover that had been priced at one-third of what the rest of the market was at.

So, Catron tripled his prices and used the money to bring on the interns full-time.

“I had a real company,” he said. “Joining the incubator was a pivotal point.”

“It’s been about connections,” he added. “Consultants, advisers, mentors, just a great network of people I can give my questions to and get advice.”

Catron has plans to evolve the software in the near future, exploring strategies to incorporate deeper artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies.

But, for now, it’s about keeping clients safe and happy by migrating them to their most recent version.

“We have to keep up with the technology so we don’t allow that hacker in,” he said. “It’s unsexy stuff but it’s a big part of what we do.”