Mathis’s passion for creation, innovation, and growth stem from his time spent studying Internation Business and Global Business Management at Hong Kong University, China. Mathis Büchi, along with Taxfix co-founder Lino, founded the successful company Smallpdf in August 2013, which has over 1 million daily users. The need to continue game-changing and change people’s lives for the better resulted in the founding of Taxfix in May 2016, where Mathis currently holds the title of co-founder and CEO.
Taxfix allows you to prepare and send your tax return to the Internal Revenue Service in a simple and secure way: you only need your smartphone.
In an exclusive interview with AsiaTechDaily, Mathis says:
The most common mistake might be that a lot of founders fall in love with their solution instead of the problem! It’s great if you’ve created a solution, but you should always make sure to understand the problem behind it to achieve sustainable success.
I guess the biggest mistake would be to assume that every country is the same. When expanding into other markets, you should always be aware of the different cultures, different needs, and also different problems that need to be solved.
Read on to know more about Mathis Büchi and his journey.
Please tell me about your personal background, and What motivated you to get started with your company?
Mathis Büchi: I’ve always been interested in problem-solving. There are many unnecessary challenges people are facing each day that I believe can be fixed conveniently. Making trips through South and North Korea easier as a travel organization and founding the data resizing online platform Smallpdf was also the motivation behind Taxfix: Support people.
We wanted to have the most significant impact we could, which meant going after a boring problem – like taxes. I’m not particularly passionate about taxes per se but care about helping people with the matters they are really struggling.
Millions of taxpayers in Germany waive their tax refund of an average of 1,027 euro. On the one hand, many people shy away from the effort. On the other hand, paper chaos and incomprehensible tax language complicate the preparation of tax returns. We wanted tax issues to be more understandable. That’s why we founded Taxfix. Taxfix is an affordable tool that makes tax filing convenient without the need for prior tax knowledge. Every taxpayer should be able to optimize their taxes easily – despite income and background.
We hope we will make our contribution to improve the filing process in different countries and provide fairness amongst the people, leaving the peace of mind.
What is your current main product, and can you share any previous product pivot story to the current product?
Mathis Büchi: Our main product Taxfix is an app allowing users to file their taxes in a very convenient way. While the German version launched three years ago, we are currently expanding on the European market.
How much money have you raised in total so far? When was the recent funding round?
Mathis Büchi: The third and latest funding round ended in April, leading to a total of USD 110M .
How have you attracted users, and with what strategy have you grown your company from the start to now?
Mathis Büchi: In general, we can say there are two groups of people: the ones that already know about taxes and are looking for an easy solution where we make sure that they find us in the right moment and then there are the ones that are not aware of this topic and the profit they can have here yet. Hence, we make sure to educate them.
However, mainly our growth was always based on the referrals of happy customers.
What do most startups get wrong about marketing in general?
Mathis Büchi: Not thinking about scalability, you have to think big – don’t think about how to acquire 50 customers, think about how to acquire 50,000.
What were the internal decision processes in determining when to begin fundraising, and what were the logistics for this? And how many investors have you met so far, and how did you meet these investors and which channels worked best for you?
Mathis Büchi: We have always been very strategic about our fundraising intentions. We never just went for money but for a budget to achieve specific goals. Nevertheless, it was tough to find interested investors in the beginning. We talked to dozens of them, but it was not easy to find people that believed in our idea. Now, we’ve built the right relationships over time and found the right people to work with. Personal contacts and networks have been the best to go to people for us.
What are the biggest challenges and obstacles that you have faced in the process of fundraising? If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
Mathis Büchi: Nobody believed in our idea that one could make their tax declaration on the smartphone. Overall, that was the biggest challenge. It was changing people’s minds about an omnipresent and important issue – with a rather innovative solution.
What are your milestones for the next round? And what are your goals for the future?
Mathis Büchi: We don’t know yet. Currently, we will only fundraise for specific projects and expansion because our core business is already becoming profitable.
How do you plan to expand globally?
Mathis Büchi: In 2020, Taxfix began its internationalization process with the launch development in Italy and France. Taxfix, Italy, is up and running now.
What are the most common mistakes companies make with global expansion?
Mathis Büchi: I guess the biggest mistake would be to assume that every country is the same. When expanding into other markets, you should always be aware of the different cultures, different needs, and also different problems that need to be solved.
How do you handle this COVID-19 outbreak situation for your company’s survival in the future?
Mathis Büchi: Fortunately, Taxfix was financially not affected by the pandemic – relating to the timelessness of the topic. Taxes still have to be paid, and people still have to file their tax declarations. Nevertheless, of course, we also had to change into fully working from home mode from one day to the other. All of our internal communication has to take place online, processes like interviews and onboardings had to be adjusted to an all-digital approach. We even celebrated our quarterly celebration event via video call, including food and drink deliveries to all of the 200 employees. I’m truly grateful for this awesome team of amazing Taxfixers here that not only managed to deal with the situation but even thrived and achieved results beyond any expectations.
As we continue to grow, we may be a help for people that lost their job due to the crisis, and they are very welcome to contact us.
What are the most common mistakes founders make when they start a company?
Mathis Büchi: The most common mistake might be that a lot of founders fall in love with their solution instead of the problem! It’s great if you’ve created a solution, but you should always make sure to understand the problem behind it to achieve sustainable success.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received, and what advice do you have for someone who is interested in doing similar things like yours or in a similar direction?
Mathis Büchi: This one fits both questions: Fail fast. Failing is a part of innovation everyone should accept. Try to fail fast – this will lead to a successful outcome.
How do you keep yourself motivated every day?
Mathis Büchi: I keep myself motivated by looking at our ambition and the big goals that are ahead of us as a company, combined with all the customers and employees that count on it.
What are the one or two things that you would do differently to improve your life if you could go back to 10 years ago?
Mathis Büchi: Not much, to be honest, I think I could have improved my take on a healthier lifestyle though 😉
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