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  • Francois Blanc

I love TAX

Uri Levine is the founder of Wave, sold for 1.1B$ to Google in 2013. And since then, he's been Founder or CEO of 6 other startups : Yes, 6, six, VI, that many in that small number of years. I had a chance to be on a call with Ziv Tirosh, who’s Refundit (Uri’s latest startup) CEO, when he told the story of how this business started.

Ziv is an Israeli entrepreneur as well, friend of Uri. He was co-Founder and CEO of Stockton, an agro-business for about 15 years, and in 2015, he successfully sold a majority stake to a Chinese investor. That’s when Uri picked up the phone to congratulate his friend for his exit. And to tease him (like the other co-founders of the 5 other startups he kicked off over these last few years) with his backlog of big ideas.

Uri. “so, what are you up to next, my friend”

Ziv. “Man, I don’t know, I’ll start with a nice break”

Uri. “Look. You know me, I always have new business ideas, but not enough time on my hands to run them all: Why don’t I bounce a few of them with you to see if one sticks, and if so, we could start it together?”

One of them was Refundit. After a few iterations on weekly calls to refine the idea (Hey, does that look familiar?), the company was seed funded and incorporated.

Ah, and why do I love tax as well, and VAT in particular? VAT is BIG : It’s a tax governments collect on every product or service you buy (your mobile phone, your food,..), and it can be as high as ~25% (Denmark, Hungary,..). But as well as low as ~8% (US, Switzerland, Saudi). And it’s really confusing because some products or services are eligible for refunds, via a cumbersome process dating back from before the digital age (filling forms, queuing at the airport). And some aren’t.

So lots of people or businesses are paying more than they should. And some do fraud on purpose, which makes that governments are missing out some big numbers. Refundit looks at it in a particular way (which is helping foreigners shopping in the EU to claim back VAT on approx ~23B EUR of undue VAT they paid on physical goods bought there). But there’s lots of other things to do to help various parties in that messy playground.

Who's up on this one?

K̶e̶e̶p̶ ̶t̶h̶i̶n̶k̶i̶n̶g̶, Start doing.

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