Robert is a lover of liberty who delights in the foundational principles on which the United States Constitution was founded, and the guiding hand of God in its rise and progress. Robert believes in higher education, strong defense, fiscal responsibility and limited government; but feels by only rediscovering and applying eternal, foundational principles can America once again inspire the world.
He is also a high-energy, creative thinker with passion for entrepreneurialism, and has co-founded and managed a variety of software startups in Utah Valley.
Robert John Stevens was born in Rockville Centre, New York in 1961 to Robert Milton Stevens and Carmela Sgarlato. Just before his third birthday his father was offered a position at the U.S. Department of the Navy at the David Taylor Model Basin, Naval Ship R&D Center. The Navy Department learned he was a pioneer in computer-aided ship hull design so he moved his family to Potomac, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C., where Robert was raised.
The first thing I’d do every day when I arrived home from school was to call for my mother. She was always there for us. I had a very happy and pleasant childhood.
From 1975-1977, Robert attended the private Bullis School—then an all-male preparatory school for the United States Naval Academy, where several of his teachers were former WW II officers.
Wanting a social life, Robert returned to public schools for his junior year and attended Wootton High School where he graduated in 1979.
College Life and Volunteer Service
Although baptized a Catholic, Robert’s family attended Presbyterian and Methodist churches. In 1979 he was accepted to Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah; where during his freshman year he roomed with Mike Leach, now a well-known college football coach.
After spending much time reading anti- and pro-Mormon literature, he was baptized at BYU in December of 1979 as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and served as a missionary in the California Oakland Mission from 1981-1983.
After completing his missionary service, he returned to BYU, began taking Computer Science classes, and graduated two years later in August of 1985. Returning to BYU again in 1986, he completed his M.S. course work in December of 1988, also in Computer Science.
Marriage and Family Life
In 1989, Robert married Suzanne Shurts in Salt Lake City, Utah, a direct descendent of Mormon pioneer Peter Shirts, and have seven healthy children. During their marriage they’ve lived in Orem, Salem, Highland, Cedar Hills and Provo, Utah.
In 1985, Robert accepted an offer to work at his father’s Naval facility at the David Taylor Model Basin, Naval Ship R&D Center, where he worked until January, 1986.
One day at work, my boss handed me a stack of training seminar pamphlets. He said, ‘We have not spent our budget this year. I want you to take as many courses as you want so we can have the same budget next year.’ That was my first introduction to government waste.
In May of 1987, Alan C. Ashton the co-founder of WordPerfect, invited Robert to program for WordPerfect. In the short space of eight years, he and his team members developed and released more than a dozen enormously successful products, including six versions of WordPerfect and early versions of WordPerfect Office that later became Novell GroupWise.
After resigning from WordPerfect, financed by personal savings, in December of 1994 Robert teamed up with Dr. Melvin J. Luthy, a BYU Linguistic Professor of Provo, and formed WriteExpress Corporation in 1995. Together they built Easy Letters which required hiring dozens of professional writers.
In 2001, Robert conceived of an idea he coined Trust Networking which was later called social networking. Teaming up with programmer Scott Hill from Pleasant Grove, Utah, they presented the idea to CEDO and were accepted into the Orem City incubator in 2002. In search of funding and programming help, they unsuccessfully pitched the idea to dozens of locals including Alan C. Ashton, and finally abandoned the project. In hindsight, they wondered how they could think up and design a multi-billion dollar idea and not receive overwhelmingly positive support?
In 2004, Robert hired a team to help him build LocalPlans.com. Although they completed the project and maintained the website for a few years, they discovered it was too costly to sign up architects and home designers.
Finally in 2008, Robert decided not to invest profits from WriteExpress until he better understood the entrepreneurial process and began working on Invent.me to understand why 75% of startups and 90% of products fail—which has enormous effects on people, companies and entire economies.
As ideas developed, he worked with four teams of BYU students to design a software solution. Each revision was more favorably received by customers but Robert knew they hadn’t nailed the right solution.
Discouraged, he read startup books and attended several BYU entrepreneurial marketing classes to help refine his solution.
In 2012 Robert’s son Andrew returned from a two-year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and immediately joined him. In November of 2013 their solution design and feature set was accepted by all their potential customers.
As a work-at-home entrepreneur, Robert had more time than most to keep up with mainstream and alternative news. While searching for signs of hope, he tracked governmental misinformation and disinformation. Applying his entrepreneurial training and problem-solving skills, he searched deeply for core-problems and effective solutions.
On March 20, 2014, Robert filed to run as a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives representing Utah’s 3rd congressional district.
- 1990: WordPerfect Rhymer & Phonetic Finder—the world’s first electronic rhyming dictionary and search-by-sound utility. The phonetic dictionary was created by Dr. Melvin J. Luthy.
- 1991: WordPerfect 5.1 for Windows Thesaurus—where he designed a user-interface for browsing synonyms and antonyms, very similar to the Finder in today’s Mac OS X operating system
- 1991: WordPerfect’s Writing Tools API which allowed the Speller, Thesaurus, Rhymer and Grammar Checker to work with other programs.
- 1992: Incremental Search, now used by billions of people daily. Quoting WikiPedia:
The first mainstream appearance may have been in the Speller for WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows, released 30 November 1992. As programmer Robert John Stevens, now CEO of WriteExpress, watched users at the WordPerfect Usability Lab in Orem, Utah use the 5.1 Speller that he and Steven M. Cannon ported to Windows, he noticed that when a word was not found in the dictionary and no alternative words were presented, users seemed lost, moved the mouse cursor around the page and even exited the Speller. Dumbstruck by the anomaly, he went home, sat on the couch and discussed his observations with his wife. Stevens coded the solution: as a user typed in the edit box, Speller would suggest words beginning with the letters entered.
- 1992: WordPerfect 5.2 for Windows Speller
- 1994: Novell GroupWise Telephone Access Server (TAS) Text-To-Speech Exceptions Dictionary
- 1996: Rhymer.com
- 1997: WriteExpress Easy Letters—Dr. Melvin J. Luthy was the chief editor for all the letter-writing products
- 2000: Naming.net
- 2004: WriteExpress 3,001 Business & Sales Letters
- 2007: WriteExpress 4,001 Business, Sales & Personal Letters
- 2011: WriteExpress 1,000 free stationery templates
- 2012: WriteExpress letter templates converted to HTML for free web access