Great ideas are often borne out of frustration - future founders often see a solution that is missing and then seize the chance to create it themselves. Eamon Shahir and his co-founder saw an obvious gap in the market when it came to the lack of automation and digitalisation of the tax return process here in the UK. Designing a process that auto-populated personal tax returns in an end-to-end cycle would significantly improve the user experience and efficiency of preparing your tax return.
The inception and design of Taxd
“As a graduate, I went straight into PwC. While there, I met Arjun Kumar, my future co-founder. We could see the entire accountancy industry was evolving and gravitating towards digitalisation, except for the tax return process. We felt the system should be automated like everything else and we then thought - why don’t we build that ourselves?
We looked at three components in building our system:
- Data gathering
- Calculation engine
- Getting the content over to HMRC
In the end, we now have a great UI that creates an efficient, dependable end-to-end cycle.”
Our funding journey and investment
“Our funding journey has been the most pivotal part for us and had the most impact on the business. For the first 12 months, we bootstrapped. The first three months consisted of friends and family cash input and we finally got our pre-seed in October 2022.
However, that first small investment from our friends and family plus our savings was what got us started. We then entered a kind of long and painful journey over nine months fundraising. The trouble is, in the beginning you’re not really able to demonstrate high levels of revenue to show investors.
At the start, you have your idea and concept – that’s all you’ve got to share with investors. It’s a harder sell in the early stages as an entrepreneur. We eventually got very lucky with QVentures who invested a good level of cash to now take our business to the next level.
We’ve now had another small round, not quite Seed yet, to help grow our team and employ three new people to increase capacity. That funding grew out of customers of Taxd and positive word of mouth so didn’t need to reach out to VCs for that which has been great. We may look to do a larger round after the tax season next year in 2024 but no firm plans for that yet.
Our biggest pain point, and I think for most start-ups, is obviously going to be cash. You just don’t take your eye off of it and knowing how much you need to survive. It’s the biggest challenge. How long can your runway go on for is always on your mind. To be honest, we were really close to burning out before we got funding and that brought on a huge mental challenge with it. We were thinking, if we can just push this forward, in just three months’ time, we’ll get there. Every business deals with that challenge and looking forward to a point when they get in control. Eventually, that pain point moves away and you start to flourish.”
What recommendations can you offer to other start-ups?
“My advice and the main lessons learned for us?
- Having a good co-founder and later on a good team, makes all the difference. Without them, should I have ever started on my own, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. It’s consistently been an uphill struggle and without them, when there are highs too, it’s definitely been better shared. Our team has been one of our greatest successes and made the ride so much better.
- Seeing the value that we have added to our customers, and for us, resulting in all 5-star ratings. That’s been extremely satisfying and a real high for us.
- Getting good investors and a good Board really elevates the business and we’ve been able to get people in that truly believe in our vision and mission.”
The road ahead
“The next steps for Taxd will be building capacity for the business by increasing the size of the team, taking our B2B solution to market and eventually look to build an advisory board of diverse industry experts to help us with our strategic progression.
In terms of the team, we started with me and Arj, and were later joined by James Green who is now our other co-founder and CTO. We then added two more to our team who have a great tech background. We will look to add a marketing person next, a sales individual and an additional software engineer in due course to expand our product offering.
In the next 12-18 months, we’re looking to increase our customer base by 5x. We know our goals are ambitious but we are confident we have a high-quality product offering that can deliver those numbers.
Ultimately, we just want to make sure we can move fast as we can and be as technology-focused as possible to make Taxd as successful as we’ve always envisioned.”