Ricky Laviña of Taxfyle: “Taxfyle is growing tremendously and is looking to extend that momentum well into the future”

Right now — and basically for the past five years — we are providing an experience via software, during a pandemic where everyone is locked down, that provides the Taxfyle customer with a personal approach and expertise to tax-filing, available on demand and without a big price tag. No one else is doing that right now. As a part of […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Right now — and basically for the past five years — we are providing an experience via software, during a pandemic where everyone is locked down, that provides the Taxfyle customer with a personal approach and expertise to tax-filing, available on demand and without a big price tag. No one else is doing that right now.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Richard Laviña.

Richard Laviña is the CEO and co-founder of consumer, small business and enterprise SaaS accounting-tech company Taxfyle. Prior to founding Taxfyle in 2015, Richard worked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as an auditor. While working at PwC, he obtained his Master of Accounting and was inspired to start Taxfyle, having witnessed firsthand and learned about the systemic inefficiencies of the accounting industry. Since then, Ricky and his team have transformed Taxfyle from an idea to a venture-backed company that serves tens of thousands of taxpayers each year, hundreds of CPA firms around the country, and counts a Big Four accounting firm and international accounting corporations among its enterprise clientele.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I come from an accounting background. I earned my degree in accounting, and after graduating, went to work for a CPA firm in my hometown of Miami. After some time there, I got a coveted gig at one of the Big Four accounting firms, as an auditor for PwC. There, I saw an opportunity in the market. There were so many inefficiencies in my day to day, so many gaps in information and bottlenecks. Knowing firsthand what issues were plaguing this super old, extremely large and lucrative industry, I thought, if I don’t pursue a career path finding solutions to these issues, someone else will.

It was so clear, the problem of virtual work back in 2015, and let alone today, the accounting industry was not very virtual-friendly nor tech-friendly. I told myself that either I would do it or someone else would. Basically we only have one life to live and, at the time I didn’t have any kids or anything, so I jumped all over it.

I quit my job at PwC and founded Taxfyle with two of my high school friends, and we set out to transform the accounting industry both for people and businesses. Five years later, Taxfyle is venture-backed and one of the fastest-growing companies in any sector in the United States, according to the 2020 Inc. 5000 list by Inc. Magazine, where Taxfyle ranked №74.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work youre doing thats disruptive?

We have the largest network of CPAs on-demand in the world, and when you do that you can do a variety of work, get it done relatively quickly and for less money than compared to traditional tax-shops and CPA firms, and you do it virtually. That’s groundbreaking in accounting, where margins are thin and the overheard of operating in-office with year-round staff is high.

Right now — and basically for the past five years — we are providing an experience via software, during a pandemic where everyone is locked down, that provides the Taxfyle customer with a personal approach and expertise to tax-filing, available on demand and without a big price tag. No one else is doing that right now.

From our industry perspective, on-demand accounting services platforms will continue disrupting the professional services industry while helping to define the future of work. There is a groundbreaking, retooling process taking place around the multibillion-dollar professional services industry around the world, changing how services are delivered and who they are performed by.

Today, companies need to leverage not only their industry expertise but also be fully on top of technological advancements that will allow them to offer tailor-made solutions for consumers that directly alleviate issues that have dragged on for decades — whether product-wise or in the professional services realm. Fintech solutions are playing a fundamental role in this sweeping transformation and boosting the continual modernization of companies’ and individuals’ administrative functions.

We’re aiming to bring that boost in productivity and cost-efficiency both to CPA firms and other professional services firms in other verticals (i.e. legal), as well as directly to consumers in their every-day lives.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When I first began to think about Taxfyle, I had no clue about software-related challenges, so I thought I could do it on the side or hire someone in India to create the next “Uber.” That was so naive of me, it was laughable. Does that count as funny? I definitely laugh when I think back on it.

I eventually realized that if I wanted to go for it, I’d have to be all in. There was a reason nothing like Taxfyle existed — it wasn’t easy to create.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Jeff Ransdell, the managing director at Fuel Venture Capital, is the first person that comes to mind. He has provided me with unwavering support, confidence and belief in the product from a very early stage. The experience that he has in the capital markets is invaluable.

Secondary would be Dick Deas, who was my boss at PwC and a former partner of the firm. We teamed up professionally on Taxfyle when he retired. He came in as an investor, and ever since, he has been an amazing source of reference as I tackle industry-specific problems.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has withstood the test of time? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is not so positive? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

It depends what you are trying to be disruptive with. I think when it comes to industries that represent the old-empire when it comes to the way that they perform business and deliver their products, disruption is very good because that also means that they are slow. One of the main factors in being disruptive is your agility, to be able to see problems and adjust to them quickly whereas older, slower companies can’t do that.

Definitely, you can move too fast. There is a fine line especially when it comes to your clients, just because you think you have all the answers figured out doesn’t mean necessarily that the counterparty across the table is there yet. I used to think that if you could prove that you could make a company money and drive efficiencies that everyone would fall in line but when it comes to dealing with individuals and the ways that they lived their lives and their history, you have to be more empathetic. In those cases moving fast and not being aware of their emotional needs could actually kill deals.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice youve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

Definitely the faith that my parents have instilled in me, that has provided me with a bedrock foundation that has allowed me to overcome adversity because that faith allows me to overcome obstacles, knowing that I serve a greater purpose.

Jeff Ransdell told me a while ago that as soon as you start getting comfortable, you stop growing exponentially. I use that as my barometer to feel what path the company is taking, whether we are still on that exponential growth path or if it has slowed down, that goes back to the agility factor. As a larger company you are not living and dying by every deal, so there’s a little more comfort there, and when you are more comfortable you tend to be less agile.

Also, in the early Taxfyle days, Will Sahatdijan, one of our co-founders and the CTO of Taxfyle, had a kid — his first. Now he has three (same as me, as of a few weeks ago).

Seeing him be a father, while going through the whole startup grind, gave me the confidence that you can be a father and an entrepreneur at the same time.

We are sure you arent done. How are you going to shake things up next?

One is definitely the growth of RMW Accounting, a newly formed and launched Taxfyle subsidiary. RMW Accounting was created to acquire CPA firms that want to liquidate their practices or sell parts of their businesses. We see more and more small firm operators considering retirement, and COVID will most definitely accelerate this trend towards mergers and acquisitions.

There’s about 41,000 CPA firms in the United States, and a lot of the owners are facing a decision whether to retire or to digitally transform, an undertaking that is not for everyone. So for those that it’s not for, they need to be able to partner up to get assistance, and that’s where RMW comes in as a big factor in our path forward.

Taxfyle is growing tremendously and is looking to extend that momentum well into the future. One way to do this is by acquiring small firms and giving their clients access to a larger pool of talent while preserving the client relationship that their clients have come to value over the years.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk thats had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I’m a big fan of C.S. Lewis and all his books. I love reading in general because it helps me give me new perspectives and keep a clear mind. You really need to have a clear mind when making decisions and solving problems. If you are emotional you are going to make bad decisions, so incorporating him into my reading repertoire has been key.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I like a quote from Viktor Frankl’s “Man’s Search for Meaning.” It goes “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

That freedom is the freedom that drove me to be an entrepreneur and what fuels me. Money and material things are great, but freedom is everything. That quote also gives you the courage that no matter what, you would still have sovereignty over yourself. You still have the freedom to decide the way you approach certain situations, if you want to be happy or sad, you have the freedom to use things negatively or positively regardless of the circumstances. That’s the ultimate control that you have, everything else can be taken from you, but as long as you know that you have that you are still alive and going.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I think it would definitely be a movement looking for sustainable clean energy, like nuclear power. I think once we get there, whether it’s via fusion or fission, that would alleviate a lot of today’s problems, not just in regards to global warming and our environment but also when it comes to providing people the necessary energy that they need to lead their daily lives.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can follow me on LinkedIn here.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Work Smarter//

In Just 11 Words Richard Branson Gives His Best Career Advice (It Came From His Mom)

by Melanie Curtin

Why These Entrepreneurs Believe Speed Trounces Perfection Every Time

by Nathan Resnick

Mindset is 90% of The Game and This Coach can show you why

by Sofia Vargas
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.