Three steps to setting up my startup: Taxo'd

Dave Legion is the founder of TAXO’D  - a multi-platform finance management tool designed by and for freelancers. It removes the guesswork from calculating your tax bill by intuitively recording your business transactions to calculate a real-time tax bill. It will even directly file your tax return for you - and it’s due to launch soon. Dave received £7,400 from Virgin StartUp, and is based in London. Here are the first three steps he took to setting up his startup.

Turning my idea into a business has certainly been an organic process. I didn’t wake up one morning with the burning desire to start an accountancy firm. It was through sheer frustration, lack of support, and using over-complicated software that drove me to create TAXO'D. Here are the first few steps I took to turn my idea into reality.

1. Research

I wouldn't have put myself through what I have if something like TAXO'D had already existed on the market. I signed up, downloaded and tried every accountancy tool and piece of software that existed at that time (2010-11). Only through this process did the idea of TAXO’D begin to crystallise. Without realising it, my research into tax law had begun.

I would capture and store any tax-related articles or useful links I came across using Evernote. I collected thoughts, ideas and jotted down any burning tax questions I had so for when I had an opportunity to clarify something. I kept screenshot references and notes about different accountancy tools which would later help refine and distinguish TAXO’D from it’s competitors. This simple productivity tool has brought organisation and structure to the chaos of information, and it still serves as a vital tool in my workflow today.

taxod 1

2. Design

I am first and foremost a designer, so the moment I could visualise TAXO’D as a working tool, I had to jump straight in and start designing it. I imagined a tool that I would want to use every day, that would cut out the unnecessary jargon, be super-simple to use and be pleasing on the eye.

After mocking up the first design using Photoshop I was keen to see it move. I brought my designs into Adobe After Effects and created a working demo of how the user interface might work. Excited by it all, I even went as far as creating a classic iPhone-style advert for it. Today I still use the very same workflow. Producing mockups and animations of the UI helps eliminate any guesswork for the developers.

But of course in this day and age there are many great tools and resources available to get you started, such as Marvel and Invision. These web-apps give you the ability to build fully working and interactive prototypes of your concept, for free. And if you’re not much of a designer, then here’s a beautifully designed UI Kit to help get you started.

taxod 2

3. Development

I hadn’t thought too far beyond the look and feel of the app, but once I had the fundamentals of the design locked-down it felt too real to ignore. I contacted the only developer I knew and I remember walking him through the design and concept, even going as far as offering him 50% of the company if he were to build it. NOTE: DO NOT BE SO DAFT. It turned we wouldn’t begin developing for another few years, by which time I’d learnt to be a little more business-savvy.

If you don’t know a developer yourself there are plenty of ways to outsource the job to professionals all over the world. and are good examples of sites that pair you with developers (and many other roles) to suit most technical requirements and budgets.

taxod 3

The story up to now

I worked on TAXO’D whenever I had some time for the next couple of years, and finally made the decision to commit to it fully in 2014. That meant repeating those first steps of research, design and development once again. This time I had years of resource and research to refer to saved in Evernote and I was finally able to get a full grasp of the self-employment tax system. Years after many iterations of the very first designs I finalised the rest of the TAXO’D User Interface. Having learnt my lesson, this time I offered to pay my developers to build it rather than giving away half the company.

We’ll soon be releasing TAXO’D into the wild with a shiny new beta-version imminent. Sign-up to spend more time on whatever makes your business great and less worrying about tax.

Download the Virgin StartUp business plan