Online Tax Preparation with a Heart

Never in million years would I have guessed that I would be a TECH STARTUP company co-founder AND focus on online tax preparation. When I was little, I never liked math. One of the reasons why I chose marketing was I assumed it had a few subjects where I had to compute or use a calculator. When I graduated and helped my dad handle the family business, I would be so bored looking at excel spreadsheets that showed profit and loss statements.

I think I only got to love numbers when I joined a bank. Of course, in the beginning, I forced myself to look at spreadsheets and reports containing mostly numbers — all kinds of numbers and computations. Plus, I had to force myself to understand banking language like ADB, MBR, TPR, NPV, TITF, JA, CASA, FLOATS, etc. But, for anyone who knows me, I am a competitive person. I loved the challenge. So when I started understanding number, I found that I loved it and it was “actually” useful! haha! My almost 7 years of service in that bank was the best years of my life. I learned a lot and challenged myself A LOT!

When 2012 came, I went away to seek the life that I wanted, which was to become an entrepreneur. I would watch videos of Marie Forleo, Tyra Banks, Oprah and other influential women on the internet. I really admired each one of them and how they got to where they were. I saw the millions and millions of people whom they have helped. I wanted to be like them. I wanted to see how I could directly help others with a business. This dream was the foundation of Manila Workshops. When I started, it was a challenge getting our name out there. It was even more challenging to manage the “business” side of everything — from sustaining profits, controlling costs and most of all, dealing and paying taxes! I really hated that part.

I would always get stressed it if taxes was the topic. I wished for the longest time that someone would create anything like an online tax preparation system or whatever to make it easier for me. And so, with someone did notice and create a rudimentary system for me. This someone was my husband and my saviour. With this very rough local automation at home, we were able to expand the business of 3 directors to 20 directors.

The TAXUMO Story

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And this is where our Taxumo story begins. We wanted to share this process and system with other small business owners, freelancers and professionals. We created a deck of the idea that we had, and started to pitch it to different people and in different competitions. This is where we started, because it seemed that others were doing this as well. With this, we were chosen as one of the 100 startups in Asia for the Echelon e27 Summit. During this time, we were already slowly developing the product. I was talking to different possible partners and was building alliances. EJ was developing algorithm, framework and the other stuff that we had to have before developing the software.

The next chapter of our story started when we were chosen as top 25 for the Ideaspace incubation program. We got some funds to build the prototype. With the money, we hired a freelance developer who would build the working prototype for us (A big shout out to Barry! Thank you! He developed our MVP and was really good, but had to let go of the project because we didn’t have enough funds to pay him.). This is the typical challenge of a startup. If you’re going through a financial turmoil, this is normal. We were bootstrapping as bootstrapping can be. Then, we were chosen as one of the top 10 startups for the Ideaspace Acceleration program. This came in at the right time. We used the funds to speed up development. A competent team is helping us develop the new system now (shoutout to Spectres Solutions! Wooohoo!)

During this time also, we invited people to be co-founders with us. Why and how did we decide on that? Well, we knew that we needed competent people to join our team to handle different aspects of the business. We knew that we needed an accounting and taxation expert, so we invited Mark. We knew that we needed to be covered legally, so we invited Atty. Kevin. And finally, after a few months of personally handling operations and marketing, the four of us decided to invite Evan, a marketing and advertising expert, and a freelancing advocate. So that’s how our team came to be.

Today is a really important day for us — it’s Ideaspace’s Demo Day. This is where we show the world the months of hard work that we have put into our startup (thanks Charz Medoza for the great design work, our new logo and the new UI/UX that everyone should watch out for!) But forget about us, because this is the time when we share the benefits of Taxumo for all of the Philippine self employed individuals — small businesses, freelancers and professionals. You can now concentrate on starting and building your business. This is the time to REFOCUS on what matters. Refocus on your passion!


 

We know that the reason that you started this business is that you want to make a difference. You long for time to use words or photographs to tell a story. You wanted to see the smiles as your customers run their fingers on that dress that you so painstakingly created. Hearing the conversations of people after a workshop session that they are now inspired to take action makes your heart skip a beat. Seeing an email of gratitude from a US client for great VA work done makes you feel that you can conquer the world. Giving business or life coaching advice to hundreds of people on stage or even through a one on one session makes you elated. All of these things make you remember that it was passion and a sense of purpose that made you decide to start your own business or pursue this profession. This is how we feel. This is how we all should feel about our business.

So join the tribe and worry less about taxes! Pursue your passion. Leave all the taxation worries and sign up for Taxumo (http://taxumo.com). It’s should all be about YOU this 2017!

P.S. Thank you to all of our mentors (Ms. Diane, Sir Manny, Prim, Phil, Gabe, Paul, Edmond, Jojy, Jojo, Jay) and to all of those who helped us make this happen! We love you all! #TeamTaxumo

Some Would Just Sit. But I’m not the Type.

While some of us would just sit and complain about things that happen to them or to everyone else, I prefer to stand, walk or even run around and do something about it. I am just not the type. Although, I am not the type who would openly rally for change, too. Even if I talk a lot, I say what I think and believe (with gusto and passion), but I don’t force my thoughts and beliefs on anyone. I hate conflict and I believe in respecting each other’s opinions. I am the type who would likely manoeuvre through things in the background to make change happen.

Let me tell you a secret though. I always seem so ready and able to conquer the world, but sometimes,  I’m scared.

I’m scared that I may not be as brilliant enough or as influential enough. I fear that I might be too optimistic. I know what I’m doing then suddenly I don’t, and I’m scared that it has always been the latter rather than the former. I look at my team and I think I know what they’re thinking, then suddenly, I doubt myself and my leadership skills. Yes, I doubt myself, and thinking about these things make me crazy.

What happens next is that I recognize my “craziness” and drop all of these thoughts and just say YES. Yes, to opportunities (that make sense) that come my way. A particular moment when I said YES recently was when I was invited to represent the country for the DLD Tel Aviv Innovation Festival. I represented our start-up TAXUMO, our online, end-to-end tax assistance SaaS that helps small business owners and professionals process their taxes. I went there together with another founder, May Montero of Tambio. We are both part of the growing number of Ideaspace startups.*

Start Tel Aviv

Start Tel Aviv

For Start Tel Aviv, I was part of a delegation that was composed of 33 women from 31 countries. Hearing the stories of these strong, determined women made me feel so blessed. Why blessed? I was thinking that there is a high chance that most of these women will be the reason for a lot of improvements and positive change in the world. We’re talking about women who create prosthetics, solar panels that charge mobile phone, hardware that measures water level in crops, job platforms that changes peoples lives, application for speech therapy of gifted children and a whole lot more! I tell you, if you were amidst these ladies, you will definitely stand up and think of ways on how you can make this world a better place.

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Some of the thoughts that I had during that trip are that 1) there are a lot of talented people that we fail to see, and 2) let us not waste our talents.

We fail to see talented people around us, and we fail to allow ourselves to be “touched or moved” by them and their stories, because we are too involved with ourselves or we are too frightened to see what’s beyond the enclosure that we built for ourselves. Stepping out and listening to the stories and experiences of others are ways of developing ourselves and widening our view of things. Talking to others may even point you to the right and clearer direction.

I come across people with great skill and talent, and oftentimes, I become excited for them. I see that they have bright futures ahead of them. But somewhere along the way, I see them missing out on great opportunities. I see them turn blind to the things that could have changed their lives for the better, and I can’t do anything about it. I am just sad that most of us don’t see that they have what it takes to make a huge impact.

In Tel Aviv, I learned saw something clearly. I saw that it was mostly the fear of failing that was stopping us — stopping us from trying, from seeing the world, from talking to people, from pursuing our dreams, from using our talents, from living. It was fear acting like a magnet, which leads us to sit forever more in that chair of complacency.

Aren’t you tired of sitting? Break loose and stand up. Stand up for your family. Stand up for your passions and for dreams. Shake away the fear. We all need to stick together and encourage one another. Let’s be more tolerant of failure — we’re all imperfect.

Stand up.

 

*Thank you to the Israeli Government, the Embassy of Israel and to Ideaspace for the opportunity.

 

My Ideaspace Experience: Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

“Given both your extensive experiences, why do you want to join Ideaspace?,” Miss Diane Eustaquio, Executive Director of the Ideaspace Foundation asked Dex (our CTO), Alex (CFO), me and my husband, as we went through the first round of interviews. I’ll share with you what we answered, but let me tell you more about Ideaspace’s story and our story before we joined.

Ideaspace’s mission is to encourage, develop, and nurture innovation and entrepreneurship by delivering a multi-faceted support program for science and technology entrepreneurs in the Philippines and in the ASEAN region. Their vision is to build a new Philippine economy that is driven by technology, innovation and entrepreneurship as a path to nation-building. We also asked startups if they knew what Ideaspace was and they told us that Ideaspace is a prestigious incubation program offered by the MVP group which everyone practically wanted to get into.

As CMO of Taxumo, since we started working on the idea January of this year, my role was really more of to take care of looking for possible partnerships for our business and to look for investors. Funding was what most of the people in this industry needed, and at first, I couldn’t understand why. I was used to doing business the traditional way, where you either put in a small amount of capital and grow it little by little or you loan from the bank or from family. But seeing how fast things are in the tech industry, I know now that funding hastens the process of developing your product. So like probably 80% of the startups in this industry (I have yet to validate this figure! haha!), I did what was expected of me — I started looking for funding.

The way people look for funding in this industry is so cool. They join pitch competitions (which we did). They sign up in different platforms visited by different VCs, angels, etc. (which I also did) and they apply to incubator and accelerator programs (which, obviously, I did as well). When Ideaspace called for applications, I sent out our application. We got through the first round and we then had to submit this video for the second round.

Luckily, we were chosen to be one of the top 20 startups who advanced to the incubation program! Yehey! The incubation program is a 6 week intensive program that will really test our limits as entrepreneurs. It kicked off with a 5 day bootcamp at First Pacific Leadership Academy in Antipolo. Since I got back last Friday, my friends have been asking me if the program (so far) has been worth it. I have been ecstatically saying that “it was so worth it!”

During the 5 day bootcamp, 3 founders should attend. I was there with EJ and Lex.

Taxumo Team

The first day was about of getting to know each other (the other startup founders) and getting to know more about your self. The second day was about getting to know more about the other members in your startup. We all took a test that assessed our strengths and weaknesses and then we were given tips on how to assign roles and how to work with other members of the team based on the assessment (which was so cool!). BTW, our team won the Amazing Race challenge for that day (super fun, btw, and super tiring! haha!). We learned more about planning for our startups the LEAN way, and for the next two days, we had a customer validation challenge which taught us tools, tricks and tips on validating our ideas using the Javelin Board (which will now be a fixture on our sala walls! haha!). On the last day, Ideaspace invited key partners, investors and advisors — key people who were important in implementing our ideas. It was one of the best experiences in my life, even if EJ and I had to drive to Antipolo everyday (we had the option to stay there but we needed to get home to see our daughter every day).

Taxumo and Nanica won 2nd for the V-Challenge (validation challenge)! Woohoo!

Taxumo and Nanica won 2nd for the V-Challenge (validation challenge)! Woohoo!

 

Taxumo with the super great and inspiring Prim Paypon!

Taxumo with the super great and inspiring Prim Paypon!

 

With our mentor Jojy Azurin at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

With our mentor Jojy Azurin at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

 

Paul Pajo, Gabe Mercado and Arin were guest speakers at Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Paul Pajo, Gabe Mercado and Arin were guest speakers at Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

 

EJ telling the other Co-Founders about Taxumo

EJ telling the other Co-Founders about Taxumo

 

Last Day at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Last Day at the Ideaspace Bootcamp 2016

Our reply to Miss Diane was that during the few months that we have been part of the tech community in the Philippines, we have learned more about starting and maintaining a successful business. We both want to learn more and we think Ideaspace can help us learn more about putting up a tech startup specifically.

Yes, we have had experience working in corporate and that gave us the ability to come up with structured processes and streamlined strategies, but working to build a tech startup requires speed and hustling. For the last five days, it really taught us more about coming up with work fast and taught us how to hustle more! Plus, we have gained a new family! Ms. Diane, Miguel, Goldy, Brenda, Dustin, Ping, and all the other members of the Ideaspace team have really shown that now we are part of their family. It’s such a great feeling! 🙂

I’ll be writing more about my startup experience and lessons that I have learned in these coming months!

Hustling,

Mommy Ginger

Mommy Ginger