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May 11, 2018

Company Profile: Catapult

Company Overview 

Catapult was founded in February 2017 by Justin Witz (Co-Founder | CEO) and David Witz (Co-Founder | COO) on one basic premise… making the Request for Proposal (RFP) process more efficient. This results in better outcomes for both the responder and requestor, as well as time and money savings.

What was the inspiration for Catapult?

During Justin’s time in service in the US Air Force, he was a project manager on many RFP’s. It was when Justin helped with a Satellite launch for a foreign government that he realized the RFP process was ripe for innovation. Justin’s team spent over several hundred million dollars reinventing the wheel on 200+ RFP’s for this launch. The project had terrible communication channels resulting in many unique versions of the same RFP. This created a daunting task for identifying which direction the team wanted to take because version control did not exist. Additionally, the team sent top secret information over unencrypted email and viewed blueprints at Starbucks.

Justin later transitioned to the private sector. In 2011, he was hired as the CTO and partner of PlanTools, a leading FinTech platform. At PlanTools, Justin inherited a RFP solution for the financial services industry that focused on advisor searches for retirement plans. After making numerous technology upgrades, the team made the decision to abandon that platform and replace it with new technology. The new platform expanded PlanTools market beyond the financial services industry.

How did you come up with your solution?

The majority of RFP’s are conducted using a Word, Excel, or PDF document making it difficult for a team to collaborate within a single solution. These inefficient modes increase time and labor costs to complete an RFP which is a deterrent to participating in the process. Furthermore, the inability to leverage technology to help identify proper answers to previously answered questions results in a lack of efficiency and accuracy which is necessary to ensure consistency of responses.

After responding to hundreds of RFP’s through limited methods and storing questions and answers in one giant word document, David and Justin started to evaluate what would make this process more efficient. The team focused on how it could handle more RFP’s simultaneously, allowing it to achieve more in less time and increase the odds of making it to a finalist round of the proposal process. This is where the team came up with Catapult.

Catapult’s purpose is to streamline the archaic RFP process by leveraging machine learning technology to help create a more efficient workflow for both a requestor and responder. Catapult’s optimized process saves customers time and reduces their labor cost.

​ ​Who is your competition and how do you distinguish your company?: 

 RFPio, SAP Ariba, InHub, RPAG B3, and FiRM are Catapult’s key competitors. Some of Catapult’s competitors only deal with the responder or requestor but not both. By focusing only on one segment of a two-party process, Catapult’s competitors fail to anticipate the needs of the other segment. Other competitors deal specifically with only one industry or one segment of an industry. Furthermore, none of Catapult’s competitors have leveraged new technology like machine learning or integration of benchmarking data as a secondary method to determine if the proposed costs are reasonable. Finally, none of Catapult’s competitors have staff members that are nationally recognized expert witnesses with personal experience on precedent setting court cases involving the evaluation of RFP processes. Instead, Catapult’s competitors struggle to overcome the bottlenecks, development obstacles and compliance hurdles inherent in the RFP process for most industries.

What are Catapult’s advantages over its competitors?

 Catapult has extensive experience, not only in the RFP realm, but also in the development space as a technology company. Secondly, thanks to Catapult’s consistent exposure to RFP’s, Catapult has been able to identify market pain points. This has allowed Catapult to build a dynamic platform. Catapult realized quickly that to scale its solution it would need to be receptive to customer feedback and market trends. Catapult’s focus on being in touch with its customers has been a major for its success. Finally, because of Catapult’s intimate experience designing, responding, and evaluating the RFP processes as well as a host of other software solutions for a highly regulated (OCC, SEC, FINRA, DOL, and IRS) financial services market, it is able to void the obstacles that are common to all software releases in this industry.

David and Justin have a track record of releasing successful retail and custom software since 2009. Catapult’s most significant project has over 2000 active users that produced over 90,000 reports in the last four years.

Connection to CFH: 

 Catapult was a part of QC FinTech Class 6 and Justin won CFH’s Risk Taker Finsiders award this year.

 Why Charlotte?

Charlotte is a growing technology hub that provides startups with access to intellectual and financial capital. Both are incredibly important to the success of a startup. The visionaries at QC FinTech and CFH provide entrepreneurs with an excellent opportunity to succeed.

Recent Accomplishments and Challenges 

The team started writing code for Catapult in April 2017 and by January 2018 Catapult launched its beta version. Two weeks after the beta was released, beta users had over 260 companies responding to an RFP, many of which were Fortune 1,000 companies. Users were instrumental in identifying the beta’s strengths and weakness which were immediately addressed to correct any deficiencies and/or add feature requests.

During the development process, Catapult outgrew its lead developer and went through the hiring process for a more suitable replacement, which they brought on and have seen a tremendous turnaround. In addition, Catapult had several paid users subscribe to Catapult and put it through the rigorous RFP process validating that its workflow is not only operational, but provides a value add. The users’ suggestions were invaluable. 

How did you acquire so much business so soon?

Catapult has been fortunate that one of its strategic partners, PlanTools, has an impeccable reputation in the financial services market. This relationship gave Catapult an immediate audience receptive to its newly released RFP solution.

Were there any issues in launching the product?

Always. Moving new technology from staging to production always seems to result in the identification of a glitch that needs resolving. The feedback it received from a Fortune 250 company was that the company loved how receptive Catapult was to its feature requests and how quickly Catapult was able to deliver in a non-urgency situation. This is one reason why an agile development process is so important to client satisfaction in a culture that wants immediate results. Catapult prides itself on quick responses to client concerns and have found that this approach builds client loyalty.

Have there been issues rolling out the product as you expanded to a very broad customer base?

Each industry has unique RFP needs. While the complexities of the financial services industry provides an excellent starting point, Catapult anticipate future challenges in other industries. Catapult will need to hire subject matter experts in those industries to assist with diagnosing weaknesses in order for the company to adapt to its customers’ needs.

How have you managed growing so rapidly but still being a small startup?

It is unfortunate that size does matter for some people, and it is something that Catapult has battled over the past 14 years. However, there is a reason large prominent companies like TIAA, Principal Financial Group, The Standard, and Vanguard subscribe to our services and/or have us develop custom solutions. Catapult DELIVERS!

What is a challenge that you anticipate you will have to overcome in the future?

The two main challenges that Catapult will have to overcome in the future are managing growth and determining when there is statistically significant data to integrate the benchmarking function for each industry. This function may be subject to specific product lines or project size.

What broad market changes does Catapult anticipate in the RFP world?

As with any market, the RFP world will continue to evolve as technology evolves. It will require innovators like Catapult to keep asking the question “WHY” in order to push the limits of technology, so its subscribers experience better outcomes. It is not in Catapult’s nature to stand still, and the founders did not develop Catapult as a once and done solution.

Catapult will continue to collect client input to address their needs and develop new solutions to increase efficiencies. It is expected that Catapult will have different functionality for each industry segment to provide better efficiencies throughout the process. Catapult already has its development schedule planned for the next year in anticipation of enhancing the user experience based.

What is Next?…

Catapult will pursue a Series A round for funding to build their Sales / Support team, to add more developers and to bring in market experts for case studies and white papers as it enter new markets. This will also enable Catapult to expand into several different industries by the end of 2018 and address several strategic integrations. Catapult is already working with the government sector and adding feature sets that will be required standards in the years to come. Follow Catapult on social media to see how we’re making a positive splash on these matters.

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Posted by Carson Truesdell