This story comes to us from ESTEEM student John Vernon. John's thesis work focuses on using speech processing software to detect potential early onset of neurological disorders such as Parkinson's Disease.
The ESTEEM program is part of an incredible entrepreneurship ecosystem that is at Innovation Park (IP). I got the chance to talk with Justin Hintz from Oak Financial Software Group, an IP client. Justin is a fellow Marylander and Annapolitan and our paths first crossed at Archbishop Spalding High School. Justin graduated from Notre Dame with a BS in computer science in 2013 and since then he has been a COO of Oak Financial. Justin wasn’t always sure he would be working on developing software applications. He met Professor Jesus Izaguirre, founder and CEO, and in the summer of 2012 they were able to develop a solid business plan around their product. They are creating a mobile application that is new cash transfer system. They intend to build the software behind international transfers. Most of their clients will be in communities in the South West and Mexico. The team consists of 4 developers and a sales and marketing team. They have partnered with a Mexican marketing firm to better reach their clients. Oak Financial software also has a finance team and compliance officers.
Justin has just returned back to the South Bend area after being in Silicon Valley, California. He explained that it is one of the best areas to find talent and funding for your venture. “When you are there you have to be ready to expand and it is really competitive.”
He shared some lessons that he learned from the experience. “You have to be thick skinned.” He mentioned that as an entrepreneur you have to always be on your game and be able to deal with people effectively. Lately, as the company is starting to grow, Justin has taken a leadership role and explained the importance of maintaining the passion and inspiring others.
Justin and the rest of the team are currently working on a large beta test with 550 customers. They hope to finish the final product for their users soon. “We really wanted to get our brand out there with this beta version.” The developers have been hard at work talking to customers and getting their feedback. “Customers are excited for it and they can’t wait.”
In the next few years, Justin wants to see the company grow. He is excited to be in South Bend with the whole team. “You can’t do this by yourself and you need to find those that are like minded.” Justin emphasized the importance of the group and claimed that Oak Financial Software is like one big family. I am happy to have known Justin in my high school years as well as an undergrad at Notre Dame. We can’t wait to see where the team will end up!