SA’s TaxTim raises funding from newly formed Exponential

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South African digital tax assistant TaxTim has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from the newly formed innovation unit of South African financial services group MMI Holidays, Exponential.

TaxTim assists users to file their tax returns through a chat-based platform, with virtual assistant TaxTim asking questions to accurately complete the return.  The platform is also integrated with the South African Revenue Service’s (SARS) e-filing system, allowing users to submit their tax return directly through the platform.  

The startup says it has helped two million people with their tax returns to date, since launching in 2011.

South Africa’s MMI Holdings this week announced the creation of a new a business unit – Exponential – aimed at identifying, and investing in, potentially disruptive innovation opportunities around financial wellness globally and domestically.

The new unit is headed up from the United Kingdom (UK) by Jaco Oosthuizen, previously in charge of the MMI loyalty and rewards programme. Two other members of the unit are located in South Africa.

Its aim is find entrepreneurs and startups utilising new technologies and business models to bring about an exponential leap towards universal financial wellness.

The new entity announced its first investment – in TaxTim – immediately on launching.

The TaxTim founders said the new funds have allowed the startup to take on a permanent premises, and expand the team.

“We are incredibly excited about the growth opportunity enabled by Exponential. Their strategic thinking is two steps ahead of most and will prove invaluable as our business heads into a high growth phase this year. In addition to capital, we are also most fortunate to have access to the additional distribution opportunities offered by their existing client base, allowing us to scale faster,” said Evan Robinson, co-founder of TaxTim.

Launched in 2011, TaxTim participated in Google’s Umbono incubator programme, under which it received seed funding.  The startup went on to raise two further funding rounds from private investors, including Justin Stanford of 4Di Capital and Permjot Valia.  

In January 2015, the startup was selected as one of 13 to join the second cohort of Cape Town-based high growth investment company Knife Capital’s Grindstone accelerator programme.

“Until now, being a startup, Evan [Robinson] and I have had to manage the strategic growth of the business, while simultaneously working in the business too – we did everything. This meant some key areas of focus didn’t receive the level of attention they needed and we both longed for a day where we would have additional hands on deck,” said Marc Sevitz, co-founder of TaxTim.

“It feels great to be able to discuss ideas with our new team, in a formal office setting, with their fresh perspectives. We are proud to have generated a substantial return for our early stage investors, demonstrating the value of being part of entrepreneurial development programmes such as Knife Capital’s Grindstone,” said Sevitz.

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Inspired and excited by the African tech entrepreneurial scene, Gabriella spends her time travelling around the continent to report on the most innovative tech startups, the most active investors, and the latest trends emerging in the ecosystem.

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