Twitter profile image of Brotzky


Cofounder of Fey and Narative. Engineer who loves design.

What do you do?

Currently, I’m building Fey, the ultimate experience for the modern investor. I’m one of the co-founders and lead the engineering team.

I see myself as a bridge between design and engineering. On one hand I spend a lot of time writing code but on the other I love design. That means most of the work I do there’s a seamless transition from design to implementation instead of losing details in translation.

When it comes to building there’s always a layer of communication where ideas and nuance can get lost. Sometimes the recipient doesn’t fully grasp the concept or see the value in the message. Or maybe messenger doesn’t know how to express themselves so to be best understood.

But when you eliminate that layer by consolidating the messenger and recipient into one or minimizing it by creating a bridge you end up with a seamless flow from idea to implementation. To me, that’s where the magic happens. That’s where everything I love is created.

What led you into design and code?

I’ve always loved design as far as I can remember but how I got into code is a much more interesting story. Before my last year of University I had no idea about programming, how websites were made, or any of that — I studied Arts and Psychology and never considered Computer Science.

Then I happened to take a class that was focused around technology called Music and the Internet MUMT 301. That’s when everything changed for me. One day, our professor taught us the very basics of HTML, CSS, JavaScript and challenged the class to build a website for our favourite musician. I distinctly remember failing to grasp the concept of a for loop and at the same time being blown away by dragging an index.html file into a browser. I was immediately enthralled.

After that class I spent all my time building the website for our challenge. I was hooked and couldn’t stop learning how websites were made. By the end of the week I had won the challenge and registered for Introduction to Computer Science in my last semester.

Everything snowballed from there. After graduating I got a part-time job making minimum wage and I would spend all my free time trying to recreate my favourite websites and studying books about JavaScript until I was able to land my first Software Engineering role.

Could you tell us a bit about Narative and Fey?

Narative is a company I started with my co-founders. Our goal was to build an agency and use our profits to build products we found exciting. We were lucky to work with so many amazing clients at Narative and really hone our skills.

Fey is the first product Narative has produced. At this point, Fey is our complete focus and Narative sits as a parent company on top of Fey.

Fey is easily the most ambitious product I’ve ever built. Right now we’re a small team doing big things working as hard as we can to onboard more customers. The world of finance is incredibly difficult because the stakes are high when you deal with money. In addition to that, we’re trying to create the best experience in the world for retail investors instead of just another finance app.

What makes a great Design Engineer in your opinion?

I think at the core what makes a great Design Engineer comes down to taste and obsession. If you notice the best Design Engineers endlessly refine their work until it feels just right. I’ve spent countless hours playing with bezier curves, transitions, and animations until it felt perfect. The very best are obsessed with the outcome and care less about the implementation. They spend their time playing, and replaying interactions just to understand how each piece behaves at each moment.

What pieces of work are you most proud of?

Without a doubt it’s Fey.

Fey's home screen.
Fey's analysis screen.
Fey's news screen.

What was the biggest accelerator in your career?

First, working hard. Since I got into engineering so late I’ve always felt behind. To catch up, when I got my first job I would come home and read the entire codebase and try to understand every line. I’d spend my weekends learning something new or building whatever came to my mind. After working, studying, and building for years I built a habit of working hard and it’s accelerated my career ever since.

As I’ve grown older there’s more balance but I still think there’s no substitute for doing the work. I would spend 12 hours a day reading MDN docs or trying to rebuild my favourite landing pages.

Second, at both Narative and Fey I’ve been the only engineer touching the UI. There’s no better way to learn how to do something than being the only person responsible for the task. That pressure really forces you to dig deep and come up with a solution. Even before Narative I was the first Frontend Engineer to join the company.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I thrive off other people’s energy. When I feel like the people around me are pushing themselves to create the very best it motivates me to do even more.

Whenever I’m motivated I also let myself work as much as I want because I don’t know how long the spark will last. This means I can have a stretches of time where all I do is work for days on end but I love it. When I eventually get tired or lose motivation I’ll take a break to recharge and do it all over again. I don’t follow any patterns. If it’s Sunday and I feel like working I’ll work.

Don’t let others dictate how you should be spending your time and do what makes you happy. It’s the easiest way to stay motivated.

Where do you get inspired?

Recently I’ve been obsessed with furniture. I walk my dog every morning and we pass a couple beautiful furniture stores and I always stop to admire the shapes, colors, and finishes. The materiality of furniture is something I really miss in software. And I don’t mean skeuomorphism. I mean the way fabrics feel to the hand or how brass patina’s over time. The way color interacts with natural light throughout the day. Honestly, thinking through all this gets me depressed about software sometimes.

NVL Table

NVL Table

As a tangent, I’ve noticed most designers don’t get inspiration from software. It feels like in general software is so far behind in terms of design compared to traditional industries. It’s hard to pinpoint the cause, but I suspect it’s due to the nature of software being so disposable and fleeting compared to physical objects. Also, the primitives we have to build on are incredibly limiting making it tenuous to build even the most basic functionality.

Gradient glass table.
Closeup of a mirror

What are your design pet-peeves?

When people mess up the basics such as alignment and typography. So much of a website is text so if you’re able to pick a font and place copy properly, you’ve already won.

How does your setup look like?

Right now my setup is simple. I have a white metal desk with a Macbook connected to my Pro Display XDR. If I really have to get stuff done I’ll also have a pen and paper to keep track of my todo list.

Key Takeaways

  • So much of a website is text so if you’re able to pick a font and place copy properly you’ve already won.

  • The very best spend their time playing, and replaying interactions just to understand how each piece behaves at each moment.

  • Don’t let others dictate how you should be spending your time and do what makes you happy. It’s the easiest way to stay motivated.