Photo: Kiko Ricote
Reflecting on his early career, Laviña said it would have been impossible to engineer the Taxfyle platform without experiencing the trials and tribulations of the workforce first-hand. "Having experience at one of the largest firms in the world definitely has immensely helped on this journey."
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Founder/CEO, Taxfyle, Miami
Richard Laviña initially followed the traditional career path of accounting majors and newly minted CPAs. He learned the ropes at Miami CPA firms and then landed at PwC, one of the Big Four.
Yet, in his view there was a big problem with the financial-services business model, particularly with tax preparation where the workload is seasonal. The industry was facing staffing crunches as work kept growing, resulting in an exodus of professionals who loved the work but not the 80-hour weeks during peak periods and the firm politics. During this period, the gig economy — which gives workers better control of their schedules and the ability to work from home — was also beginning to take shape.
“I realized that the only way to solve (the profession’s problems) would be to build a platform that will attract people back to the industry without having to be full time and take on all the stuff that they didn’t like doing, which is why they left,” says Laviña, a native Miamian and alum of both the University of Miami and Florida International University.
That’s when he quit his job at PwC and founded Taxfyle in 2015 with two of his friends, Michael Mouriz and Will Sahatdjian. “Simply, Taxfyle is accountants on demand. We created the platform to allow workers to do what they like in an environment that they enjoy, with a flexible arrangement that meets the modern workers’ needs.”
Taxfyle started out as a consumer app that matched people who needed to get their taxes done with tax professionals. The Miami-based company still does that, but about four years ago began marketing the product to CPA firms, now the bigger part of the business.
“Our largest clients now are CPA firms themselves because we’re staffing CPA firms through the platform. If you’re a startup serving an industry, like accounting, and the number one problem for the industry is what you’re solving in a novel way, that is every founder’s dream.”
Today, Taxfyle is a startup success story. It has raised over $35 million in venture capital, generated “tens of millions” in revenue, and employs nearly 100 people, Laviña says. About 6,000 tax professionals operate on the platform. Taxfyle made the 2023 Inc 5000 list of fastest-growing companies with a three-year growth rate of 299%. It was the company’s third appearance on the list.
This year, Laviña and the team launched Taxfyle AI, which automates a significant portion of manual work required for tax professionals by gathering the necessary documents and information to generate the required workflows, worksheets and backup schedules. “Overall, there are about 160 million tax returns filed every year, and about 90 million of those are assisted. This platform is built for volume. That’s our specialty, and AI is going to help us get there.”
Where does Laviña hope to take this company? “Hopefully public.”