By LAURA LOREK
Publisher and Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Host of the Ideas to Invoices Podcast
Most people in Austin’s technology community know Joseph Kopser.
He is one of those people who seems to be everywhere and involved in everything from Austin’s smart city efforts and transportation issues to promoting veteran entrepreneurs and higher education for a more skilled Texas workforce.
And Kopser also recently announced he is considering challenging Rep. Lamar Smith in Texas’ 21st Congressional District. Buzzfeed broke the news on March 14th (after this interview for the Ideas to Invoices podcast was done.) Kopser also sent out an email to family and friends outlining his plans and requesting support. So far, he has raised more than $70,000.
Kopser is a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of RideScout, a startup smartphone app created to increase transportation efficiency by getting people out of their cars and into other public, commercial and private options.
Previously, he served in the U.S. Army for 20 years earning the Combat Action Badge, Army Ranger Tab and Bronze Star. He graduated from West Point with a BS in Aerospace Engineering and a Master’s Degree from the Harvard Kennedy School. Kopser retired from the Army in 2013 as a Lt. Colonel.
Initially, Kopser created RideScout to optimize his commuting options in the Washington, D.C. area so he could spend more time with his wife, Amy, and their three daughters.
Craig Cummings, co-founder of RideScout, helped Kopser raise the initial capital and hire staff to launch the startup. The provisional patent was filed in May of 2011. In the beginning, Kopser didn’t quit his day job as a military science professor teaching at the University of Texas at Austin.
“I tell all entrepreneurs who ask, especially in the early stages, don’t quit your day job,” Kopser said.
Don’t quit your job until you can maintain two of the three Cs: cash, customers and commitment, Kopser said.
In March of 2013 is when RideScout did a soft launch at South by Southwest. It formally launched in November of 2013. RideScout got to know the team at Mercedes through its relationship with Car2Go. Mercedes owned moovel, a competing product to RideScout.
In September of 2014, Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes and moovel, announced its acquisition of RideScout. Kopser became global president of moovel and served with them until last November when moovel announced plans to close its Austin office and move all of its operations to Portland, Oregon.
Kopser chose not to move. Instead, he formed a new venture, Grayline, a corporate consulting firm, with Bret Boyd.
He is also still involved in Bunker Labs Austin, an effort to help veterans become entrepreneurs. And he is also promoting the 60 by 30 high education plan which focuses on the goal of having 60 percent of the 25 to 34-year-old Texas population to hold a certificate or degree by 2030.
In this Ideas to Invoices podcast interview, Kopser shares tips for other entrepreneurs to build their companies and his motivation. He also recommends everyone read Dale Carnegie’s book: How to Win Friends and Influence People every few years.
Entrepreneurship is “really, really hard,” Kopser said.
“Not everyone is going to love your ideas as much as you do. Much of your time is going to be spent being told no,” he said. “It takes someone with a strong constitution.”
Editor’s note: Joseph Kopser was the second entrepreneur interviewed to kick off Silicon Hills News’ Ideas to Invoices Podcast. He provides a lot more insights into how he built RideScout in the podcast. Please listen to the interview or go to iTunes to subscribe to our weekly podcast. Please also rate and review the podcast on iTunes. We will soon be launching on Soundcloud, Stitcher and other podcasting platforms.