Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we’re talking with Carlos Villaneuva from Anywhere Tax.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Our team created an iPhone and android mobile app that helps young Australians get their tax back in three simple steps. No more going to a tax agent and no more high fees. They just upload their docs, enter a few details, and submit. Our tax agents review, return an estimate to the customer and then lodge the return if they’re happy.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
We started off with a personal bank loan to finance the development of the applications, but it quickly became apparent that we needed more money and man hours to build our MVP. So I also sold my new car and quit my full time job. Both tech cofounder and tax expert are also on this 100%, so we are all in this together! We are taking on the lean startup approach and really hustling together as a team to get the apps completed and also whip up the marketing strategies.
What’s the biggest challenge facing your business?
I had never designed an app, let alone led a development team or used tools such as JIRA before. This meant it was difficult to develop a road-map of the idea and provide a scope to our developers. I worked closely with a designer to put my ideas to paper and then provided at least 6 or 7 iterations of the app. This caused major delays and headaches. When the tech cofounder Andy, came on board, we spent solid time putting some processes in place to track the project and open up better communication with the developers. This helped us get things done a lot faster.
How do you differentiate your business from your competitors?
Our main competitor is the free MyTax web app from the ATO. They are getting better at using technology and are introducing mobile apps for people to use. Our main differentiator is that our tax app is made specifically for young Australians entering the workforce and Gen Ys with simple tax structures who want a no-fuss solution to get their tax back.
Other tax apps require a user to follow lengthy processes to create user accounts and also answer endless questions that are irrelevant to their situation. This confuses the user and opens up the possibility of errors in the tax return. Beyond this it is submitted to the tax office without being checked by a tax agent. Our app only asks a few simple questions and the rest is left up to the tax agent to take care of and check before it is lodged to the tax office.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
I can’t live without Uber. I actually just received an email this morning from Uber to tell me that I have used their service 85 times since I began using it in January this year. I also recommend a lot of friends to use it so accumulate heaps of free rides. I just can’t get enough of the private driver experience or a having a brand new pearly white 300c rocking up at your request.
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever received?
Your business/startup is like a newborn child. It does not care whether it is 2 in the morning and you haven’t slept for the last two days. What really matters is whether you’re ready to do whatever it takes to feed your baby to keep it alive! In other words, are you ready to do whatever it takes to make your business succeed? and I mean, WHATEVER it takes!
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