2020 Summer Catalyst Startup Profile: Flow Taxes
Andi Deng ’20 is excited about the potential of artificial intelligence – and he’s bringing it to accounting with Flow Taxes.
Andi first became interested in accounting when he volunteered with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA). VITA is an IRS program providing free tax help to people who generally make $56,000 or less, persons with disabilities, and limited English-speaking individuals.
Later on, Andi started connecting with small business owners and heard about their challenges filing taxes. They said there was a lack of communication from their CPAs. And at the same time, their CPAs were saying the business owners weren’t responsive. Could both be true? The answer, Andi realized, is yes.
Why? Because small to medium sized accounting firms are using outdated tools. These tools are often generic and don’t have industry-specific features. Plus, these tools don’t incorporate automation. This leads to a slow and complex back-and-forth with clients.
With Flow Taxes, Andi and his team are providing a solution. Flow Taxes automatically generates a checklist of tasks based on the client’s previous tax return. And with its recognition feature, the platform can recognize when files – like a W2, for example – are uploaded. Flow Taxes will identify the file, rename it, categorize it, and check off the document request on the checklist.
Along with his technical co-founders Aiwen Ai and Sangwu Lee, Andi has accomplished a lot and learned a lot during Summer Catalyst. Andi credits Lunch & Learns and guest speakers with broadening their perspective: “We are introduced to concepts that we didn’t know we weren’t aware of.”
This summer, the team completed phase 1 of product development, which focused on infrastructure and included items like document storage, the client dashboard, the checklist feature, email integration, and more. They are moving into phase 2, which is all about smart automation and the recognition feature. When they complete this phase of development and finish testing, they hope to begin onboarding clients.
Selling Flow Taxes to accounting firms looks a little different during COVID-19. With tax filing deadlines significantly extended into the summer, accountants were much busier much later than usual. Normally, they would have been reachable by the time the summer rolled around. As a result, the selling season, so to speak, will be condensed into the next few months. Andi knows this and he is proactively moving ahead, making contacts and scheduling calls. He want to bring on five to ten firms who will use the platform through the next tax season and help to show traction.
We all know taxes to be a cumbersome process. With Flow Taxes, Andi wants to streamline and simplify via artificial intelligence, giving accountants the opportunity to spend more time on what matters the most – their clients.
To learn more about Flow Taxes, visit its website.