Entrepreneurs can get their initial business ideas anywhere. Sometimes, they’ll even find it in the course of solving a specific problem for an existing business. This is exactly how Taxumo—a web app that computes and files your monthly, quarterly, and annual taxes for you—came about.
“[It began with] a traumatic experience,” EJ Arboleda, the company’s chief executive officer, recounts to 2.O during our December 2016 interview. His wife, Ginger (Taxumo’s chief operating officer), had encountered a few tax-related problems for her business venture, Manila Workshops, and it was taking her time and attention away from it. Her previous accountants forgot to file her quarterly taxes and accomplish her bookkeeping requirements, resulting in her having to pay the hefty corresponding penalties to the BIR.
“[That was] super stressful for her. So we looked at what she was doing, and we found a way to automate it to make it much easier for her,” EJ explains. With that question eventually answered, another one came up: what if other people could benefit from this automated system, too?
The couple began juggling their day jobs and this new project, forming a development team in the beginning of 2016 and going through the startup idea and validation stages. A full year later, they’re at the build stage, with a production version now available online. While many would call this significant progress, the Taxumo team emphasizes that they took a more cautious and measured strategy for their web app, one that has yielded positive results. EJ noted that as early as the validation or Minimum Viable Product (MVP) stage from July to October last year, they attained a nine percent conversation rate, a 90 percent return rate, and 24 percent monthly growth; all metrics are above their previously set targets.
And after Taxumo’s current version launched back in November, there have already been more tax filings completed through the system than during the MVP stage. A quick demo showed us why: all you need to do are sign up for an account, fill in your business and taxpayer information, input your business income and expenses for the month, check and confirm the running tally and tax calculation on the left side of the screen, and submit the filled-in tax form. All done!
These successes clearly show the demand for a preparation service that takes away the stress and confusion experienced by our taxpayers. Many of Taxumo’s users are freelancers and self-employed individuals, with doctors and registered financial planners (RFPs) included in their signups—exactly the taxpayers that the company has targeted, and which Taxumo currently accommodates with percentage and income tax computations, and the requisite government forms.
The BIR has also been receptive and cooperative, giving Taxumo the thumbs-up after a system walk-through. It’s basically a rebuke of its persistent image as a corruption-laden agency. “They said, ‘That’s exactly what we wanted three years ago!’” Ginger recalls, laughing. “They were actually waiting for private entities like us to bring it up and say ‘Here, I have a suggestion.’”
At the time of our interview, Taxumo is free to use, with user feedback functioning as a temporary mode of payment. However, after Taxumo officially launches this year, it’ll cost P2,000 for a monthly subscription. Those who sign up for a longer duration will get a discounted fee. Taxumo can also accept and facilitate PayPal and credit card payments, with partnerships with Dragonpay and other financial channels in the pipeline—completing what Chief Marketing Officer Evan Tan called a “bank-agnostic” approach.
Aside from those developments, the team plans to include VAT-registered users to their signups, and add corporate tax computations and filing to their offerings. They also look forward to partnering with online selling/e-commerce, freelancing, and accounting professionals and platforms; working with input options such as optical character recognition (OCR) and bots; and making their service available nationwide once they’ve made sure they’ve ironed everything out here in Manila.