Client Interview

- Raphael Kahle, CTO and Ralf Oetting, CEO of justTRADE

Ralf and Raphael, could you briefly present yourselves and let us know how you came up with the idea for justTRADE?

My name is Ralf Oetting, Founder and Managing Director of justTRADE. I have worked for 10 years in several international consultancy companies, and afterwards another 20 years for two online banks in Germany – comdirect and onvista, partly in Germany, partly in their foreign subsidiaries.
Regarding the idea – I have always been passionate about finance and investing, and I saw a need in the market for a more accessible and user-friendly trading platform. My vision was to create a platform that would make it easy for people to invest and trade, regardless of their level of experience or financial knowledge.

My name is Raphael Kahle and I am the CTO of the company. justTRADE is a young FinTech that offers online trading without an order commission. We founded the company at the end of 2018, together with Ralf Oetting and Michael Bußhaus. After a year, we were ready to close the beta version with the first thousand customers. Four months later we went public, and since then we have experienced steady growth. Today, 4 years later we have a team of over 25 people. 


What sets justTRADE apart from other trading platforms to achieve this growth?

justTRADE is designed to be easy to use, even for people who are new to investing. We offer a wide range of educational resources in our Blog to help our users understand the stock market and make informed decisions about their investments. In addition, we have a unique proposition for zero order commission, so the full profit always stays where it belongs: with the trader himself. That makes us attractive and affordable.

When we first launched, justTRADE was primarily focused on stocks and certificates. Over time, we have added new features and expanded our product offerings to include crypto trading, ETF saving plans, and more. We have also continued to improve our platform and make it even easier for people to invest with us. We are aware that we must be nimble and adapt to new trends and technologies to remain competitive. 


In four years, you have achieved major milestones and accomplishments – when and how did nearshoring become the right choice for your expansion?

At the beginning, when our team was still small, everything was working smoothly. With the fast business growth came the pressure for a high-quality engineering team – tech-savvy, agile, and reliable. Nearshoring was a strategic decision for us, driven by a combination of factors including cost, quality, and regulatory considerations. The ability to find highly skilled developers at a lower cost in Bulgaria compared to Germany was an important factor in the decision. Today our IT team consists of 15 developers, a smart mixture of in-house and dedicated external professionals from Plan A, organized in agile squads. The excellent work orchestration is helping us operate smoothly as if we were still a small team.

Nearshoring to Bulgaria was the right choice for our company. It allowed us to quickly find skilled software engineers at more reasonable prices, while also having the convenience and regulatory benefits of staying within the European Union. Being in the financial industry and managing customer data makes the latter quite an important factor.
Plan A was a great choice for our business expansion. They support us with a wide talent pool and engineering proficiency. Tapping into different cultures and perspectives helped us enrich ourselves in terms of understanding that with the right partner there are efficiencies, rather than challenges. From the very beginning of our relationship the communication was effective, and we established a transparent collaboration process. 


How does the collaboration with a nearshoring partner contribute to your development process?

The agile squads in a mixed on-site (Germany) and remote (Bulgaria) working mode helped the company bring in additional resources and expertise, as well as improve organization and discipline within the development team. Working with a team located in a nearby country facilitates better communication and collaboration, especially under an agile methodology as we are continuously improving the work process and adapting to the market and technology imperatives. Plan A contributed tremendously in this process due to their experience in providing quality nearshore delivery. 
Nearshoring is a useful strategy for companies looking to expand their operations or access specialized skills and resources. Ultimately, the success of nearshoring will depend on several factors, including the quality of the team you work with, the effectiveness of communication, the processes in place, and the level of alignment between your company's goals and the nearshore team's capabilities and expertise. We got really lucky to engage with Plan A and make use of their know-how.


What are your main insights about working with Plan A?

Working with Plan A sometimes feels like working with a friend. We make no difference between internal and external engineers. Plan A team is easygoing and collaborative. Once we established the relationship, we were surprised at how irrelevant our concerns were about team communication, fully remote work, traceability, reporting, and cultural differences. Teams were able to organize quickly, stick together, and deliver. 


How do the development goals of justTRADE relate to your vision for the future of online trading?

As technology advances, it will become even easier for people to access the stock market and make informed investment decisions. I also think we will see an increase in the use of artificial intelligence and machine learning in trading, which will help to make the process even more efficient and accurate.
In this context, justTRADE is prepared for the future - our goal is to continue to grow and evolve as a company, while always staying true to our mission of making it easy for people to invest. Our vision is to be the go-to platform for anyone who wants to start investing, regardless of their level of experience, and supported by great customer service and support, enjoying new features, functionalities, and products for trading. From a technology perspective, having Plan A as a delivery partner and building our squads with 50% internal developers and 50% external consultants gives us the certainty and peace of mind that we can scale as the market demands.


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