Justin Witz on Standing Out in a Rapidly Growing Industry

Justin Witz

We met Justin Witz at the 2016 Atlassian Summit in San Jose, CA. He's a customer, fan, and entrepreneur. His enthusiasm and sincerity endeared him to Val and now we're all fans of him too!

He used Balsamiq Mockups to design his custom financial solutions software called PlanTools.

He's got some great lessons that he generously shared with us below. Read on for our interview.

Q&A with Justin Witz

What industry do you work in, and what is your title or job description?

Financial Services. I am the Chief Technology Officer at FRA PlanTools.

What kinds of things are you excited about in your industry?

Is it ok to nerd out? If so, I am very excited about a new regulation "Definition of the Term "Fiduciary"; Conflict of Interest Rule" we have launching in April 2017. Why? Well, I own / run a Financial Services SaaS company, and a part of that business is developing custom solutions for our clients. This new rule creates a plethora of opportunities to build new solutions. Which means I get to do my favorite things: lay out a concept using Balsamiq, project manage my development team in India, and deliver a product that saves people time, makes them more effective and increases their revenues. Their happiness is my happiness.

What suggestions do you have for someone looking to succeed in your role or industry?

Do everything others won't do.

Do everything others won't do. You have to stand out, and with the FinTech industry booming, you have to find a way to make yourself attractive.

Why and how do you use Balsamiq Mockups?

The WHY is easy - a simple product that delivers a big WOW. When I open Balsamiq Mockups, I have a blank canvas that allows me to become my own artist for each specific task. I am able to lay out conceptual designs for the UI and provide details on the UX creating a streamlined workflow that can be discussed with my team of developers to verify it's the best course of action.

Balsamiq is a language we can all understand.

I love working with my team in India, and to avoid language barriers we leverage Balsamiq Mockups to express our stories in a language we all understand. This leads to a higher success rate in development with minimal questions. It also makes us more effective with our time since we're not worried about the notorious "Did you understand me" statement. For companies with mixed backgrounds, Balsamiq is a language we can all understand.

An early mockup for The Principal's Target Date Analyzer

Do you have any feature ideas or suggestions for how we can improve our product(s)?

Control over pie/bar chart colors, interactive drop downs (an area I have struggled with) and in the Desktop version, sharing a web-based version that clients can view, add comments and a sign-off option.

What trends do you see in your industry, and do you see them as good or bad?

The biggest trend in the Financial Services industry right now is the fast adoption of technology into everyone's daily business practice. Financial Advisors need to be equipped with information on their clients prior to meetings, follow-ups need to be streamlined, and reporting (something an Advisor does for their clients) needs to be automated and delivered electronically.

Companies are now adopting this fast-paced life-cycle, which is why companies like Principal Financial Group, Vanguard, T. Rowe Price, TIAA, and Charles Schwab have dedicated $1m a month for the next 18-24 months in building out a better ecosystem and/or acquiring the right partners.

An early mockup for The Principal's Target Date Analyzer

How do you measure your success, and how do you know if you've hit the mark?

I believe for us at PlanTools, success is measured differently than most companies. Of course, we measure by Net Revenues, but my team focuses on project completions, milestones hit and as few and minimal bugs, issues, errors, bottlenecks as possible during a build-out phase.

What mistakes or missteps have you made, what did you learn, and how did you recover?

I'd say the biggest misstep we had made recently was doing a project for a friend's firm. We didn't lay out the contract ahead of time, we just dove in. Knowing each other for over 5 years, we felt comfortable taking this approach, but this ended up backfiring. As experienced as our company is, we learned that we can't do projects for our friends on a basis that is different than any other client. Put your contract in place before you start the work.


Thank you for sharing, Justin. You are a Champion!

Do you have a story to share about the awesome things you do with Balsamiq? Send an email to champions@balsamiq.com with your stories or blog posts!

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