At DEMO Africa we met Evan and Marc with a fascinating business idea that can earn millions as transactions go online. TaxTim based in Cape Town SA, wants to help people to compute their tax returns like a friend helping you file your tax returns.
Evan told TechMoran that TaxTim launched November 2011 is an online digital tax assistant to help one understand their taxes and complete their tax returns on their own, with confidence.
Evan said, ”Using TaxTim is the same as having your very own tax practitioner – he asks you a set of simple, plain language questions one-by-one, then takes your answers and instantly fills out your tax return for you, with everything put in the right place.”
Who are its founders their age, education or firm behind it?
Evan Robinson, Director and CTO, 29 years old (male): Passionate programmer of 18 years but studied Biotechnology and Biochemistry to Masters level. Inventor and entrepreneur of two small SMS-based firms before TaxTim.
Marc Sevitz, Director and CFO, 28 years old (male): 5 years local and international tax experience working for KPMG and TotalServe. CA (SA) B. Comm, PG Dip. Tax Law
What inspired you?
In March 2011, Evan was trying to do his tax returns and found it impossible. He went to his friend Marc (a chartered accountant) and was sorted out within minutes. He said to Marc “Would it be possible to store your brain in a machine? Put everything you know about tax behind a virtual character and release it online so everyone can have their own affordable tax man?”. He said “Maybe” and we got to work building TaxTim.
How does it work?
TaxTim asks simple questions one-by-one then converts the users answers immediately into a correctly completed income tax return. Doing taxes is now as easy as having a conversation – you can be done in 10 minutes or less!
Do you have any users?
5000+ so far
6 top South African universities are using our product to teach tax students how to complete tax returns.
How do you make your cut?
Users pay per tax return that TaxTim completes for them. Corporate clients sponsor prepaid use of TaxTim for their employees. Universities pay for an automated teaching module with TaxTim. Also have lead generation and Adsense revenue.
Are you alone in the market?
No online product helps people do their tax returns in the friendly and intuitive yet automated way that we do. We will always have the competition of existing tax practitioners, the free assistance provided by the revenue authority and people just doing their returns on their own steam.
Any funding, awards yet?
3 rounds of funding closed; first round was from the Google Umbono incubator.
Do you have any partnerships?
A government educational initiative we are closing in the next week or so.
Was the ride easy?
Getting people to take notice and consider a new company doing things in a different way is a challenge, but we have made a great effort to work on the credibility of our offering and educating people to a new way of doing taxes.
Future plans/expansion etc?
The core technology can be applied to any scenario where a difficult, complicated form needs to be completed – this is replaced with a friendly digital assistant who has a chat with you (filling in the form automatically).
We plan to licence the TaxTim product and core forms-to-conversation technology internationally.