Poindexter is a web application we created that allows entrepreneurs to build professional financial plans for their businesses in minutes. When we launched, there was a gap in the market for a financial software designed for the audience that needs it most; the people actually running businesses. Our goal was to help entrepreneurs and business owners easily understand how the decisions they make today affect their financial position in the future.
The challenge we faced was how to break down the barriers of communication between what the user knows about the business, and how it relates to financial outcomes. Add to this the challenge of bootstrapping a product with minimal resources, and we had our work cut out for us.
Today, Poindexter services thousands of active users each month, is included as course curriculum at major universities, and has partnered with non-profit organizations to help underprivileged entrepreneurs get access to the resources they need to succeed in business.
Financial planning software is traditionally built for financial professionals with highly technical skills. This audience requires sophisticated functionality to handle a seemingly infinite number of use cases. As you might imagine, every feature added to a software product negatively affects its usability. We knew we would have to take a different approach since we're targeting an audience with none of the specialized expertise assumed as the basis for using traditional solutions.
The key to success was getting the balance between flexibility and usability just right. Luckily, the options for achieving this delicate balance were made less overwhelming by looking at the world through the users' eyes. They understand very little about the inner mechanics of accounting and finance, but they do understand how to use cloud-based productivity tools. We figured that if we could recreate the type of experience they're familiar with, and provide users a simple enough mental model of how core features function, they would stick with it long enough to learn how everything works. So far, we haven't been proven wrong.
There were a lot of assumptions baked into our approach, but we felt confident we had identified the main things we would need to get right to test whether the solution was something the market needed. I credit any success we've had with this approach, often called User Centered Design, which carries over into our product development philosophy. We view our relationship with customers as a partnership, and we've remained incredibly close to them as we've developed the product to ensure we're continually delivering features that address their most important concerns.