Justin Witz, CEO of Catapult – a member of the newest QC Fintech class – is building a subscription based, web application to streamline and manage the cumbersome request for proposal (RFP) submission and response processes.
In 2006, Justin Witz joined the Air Force as a 20-year-old.
“Right before I went to Iraq in , I was doing a project for NASA in Italy. It was a $2.5B project [where] we were doing a satellite launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base California into outer-space – basically sending a satellite for Italy. I was the project manager for the whole project.”
While managing the project he noticed the manual nature of the entire process – especially the documentation.
“They basically had hired 10-15 people just to manage documents.”
This seemed ridiculous to Witz – how could a billion dollar company, made up of very bright people, be so inefficient?
He reflects, “It was the most laborious, egregious, archaic, inundated process you could ever imagine.”
From that experience, he recognized if large companies were still using paper and manual processes to complete massive-sized projects, then miscommunication and version control issues would be a reoccurring problem across industries.
That’s how the idea for Catapult was born. “I had the idea back in 2009.”
His first job out of active duty was with PlanTools – a company out of Fort Mill that gave him exposure to the internal operations of financial services companies.
“I found that there is a huge need where everyone does requests for proposal – everyone does them the same inundated, laborious way that the big billion dollar companies do it.”
Here, Witz decides to focus Catapult initially on the financial services industry.
He provides an example as to the impact his company can make. “So in financial services, you may have plan sponsors that manage your retirement plan looking to acquire a brokered deal. So a plan sponsor puts together a series of questions that they want to ask for a betting process, and everything needs to be documented so that it can be approved in the case of due diligence or an audit.”
“When they do these questionnaires they put them in either Excel, Word, or PowerPoint, and then they deliver it off to several different companies or several different people to respond.”
To further the example, Witz mentions a financial advisor who receives the RFP may have a team of people – one of which is responsible for managing these responses across the team. In the current process, this point-person merges the respective documented responses from the team into one document. It’s a lengthy and manual process – it’s essentially the bottleneck for the whole RFP response.
“So what Catapult does it literally removes that bottleneck. You build everything in a web-based application, so your entire team can help build it all out collectively in one living portal rather than on a document that everyone that has to share and pass around or approve.
“Everyone can answer – at the same time, in the same document.” They also enable in-line editing, so team members can collaborate – live. “It’s very collaborative throughout the whole process.”
His goal is to make the whole RFP process more efficient.
“We cater to both sides – someone who’s creating and sending out and someone who’s receiving.”
The Catapult team is building their platform as an API so it can be easily integrated into a company’s existing ecosystem.
Witz and his team plan to launch a beta product at the end of April with a few companies to get quick feedback. The goal is to receive and implement this initial feedback by August – before QC Fintech’s demo day.
From there – launch a second round of the beta product, and then get a product to market by November. You can sign up for the private beta on the Catapult website.
Witz’s longer-term goal is to make a bigger footprint in the Charlotte area. He hopes to grow the team to around 15 people consisting of developers, QAs, and a few business roles.
His advice to early-stage entrepreneurs is to surround yourself with a capable and connected team.
“You can’t survive without having ideas bounce around, you can’t survive without sharing. Everything gets done together collectively – no matter what.”