Entrepreneurs Alex Popa and Lloyed Lobo, Founders of R&D Tax Credit Management platform Boast.AI have not only managed to grow their business during the pandemic, but also are helping other startups get funding and growth advice.
Lloyed is of Indian-origin - he grew up in Kuwait and was a part of the “airlift experience” during the Gulf War in 1990. Alex and Lloyed met in college while studying engineering and they’ve been best friends since.
What is Boast.AI?
Each year the US and Canadian governments provide billions of dollars in funding to companies through the Research and Development Tax Credit program.
US startups can use the R&D Tax Credit
to offset up to $250,000 per year in payroll taxes, which typically comes as a refund check. Canadian startups can get a cash back of up to 64% of their R&D expenses through the SR&ED program.
The application process is time consuming and cumbersome. Boast.AI makes R&D tax credit applications hassle-free by managing the entire process from identifying eligibility to preparing the paperwork and ensuring that companies get the money. Boast only charges its fee once its customers receive their money from the government, thereby enabling businesses to get funding without the risk and effort.
How have you managed to keep your business growing during the pandemic?
1. Treat relationships like gold. Reach out to your customers to see how you can help them, be more understanding with your colleagues, and volunteer in the community.
2. Share your cash runway with the team and use data to explain why things will be fine despite the difficult times.
3. Save money and stretch every dollar. Find the most cost-efficient customer acquisition channels. For example, optimize emails, run webinars, do referral marketing instead of spending money on advertising.
4. Do more with less. Learn to do things by yourself that you would otherwise outsource.
5. Re-forecast your targets and communicate it with your team.
6. Host online events that educate and enable your clients, colleagues, and communities in these times.
In 2014, Boast.AI co-founded TractionConf.io with Launch Academy, a Canadian non-profit startup incubator. We bring leaders from companies like Google, Shopify, LinkedIn, Twilio, etc. alongside top investors to share advice on business growth. We host weekly webinars, monthly dinners, and an annual conference. Today, Traction has grown into a community of over 50,000 people.
We’ve also collaborated with other entrepreneurs to launch initiatives to connect startups with investors and to offer free mentorship to over 2,000 Black, Indigenous, People of Color and Under-respresented communities over virtual meetings. You can see more at Boast.AI/events.
How have you managed to keep your team motivated with Work From Home?
Boast has offices in San Francisco, Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Romania. Our team members have always had the option to work from home or the office. Here are some lessons we learned over the years from building a flexible work culture.
1. Write down your mission, vision and values, and demonstrate these with your actions. It is crucial to align everyone. Our mission is to help businesses grow.
2. Set clear expectations. That means having goals with metrics and dashboards that you can review on a weekly basis to track performance and make adjustments as needed.
3. Leverage online tools to communicate and collaborate. We use FB Workplace, GSuite, Jira to stay in the loop and on track.
4. Celebrate wins, client testimonials, birthdays, work anniversaries, etc. Each week we celebrate a team member by giving out a Most Valuable Player (MVP) award. The person receiving the MVP award one week has to give out the MVP award the following week by picking someone on the team that lived one of our company values - Always do what's right, Be boldly innovative, and Stay connected to the community.
5. Host virtual team building activities. People feel better when they are doing things plus it creates a sense of connection, so schedule things for them to do. Our team members organize regular virtual activities like murder mystery and online fitness classes.
6. Give back to the community as a team. The joy of giving is second to none and it helps make the team stronger.
7. Plan occasional in-person meetings with team members. We host annual company retreats in exotic locations as well as regular events near one of our local offices.
8. Have small office spaces so local teams can go in as needed. It might be tough in these times, but something to keep in mind once it’s safe to open up.
Ultimately, if you focus on the happiness of the people around you and help them succeed, your business will also succeed.
Disclaimer: The views, suggestions and opinions expressed here are the sole responsibility of the experts. No Forbes India journalist was involved in the writing and production of this article.