Automatic solution to managing accounts and filing tax returns


START-UP NATION/Bullet HQ:Software firm Bullet HQ is targeting small and medium enterprises with technology it claims replaces the need for an accountant, writes PAMELA NEWENHAM

FOR MANY small businesses, managing accounting and payroll can prove an expensive process.

Technology start-up Bullet HQ aims to disrupt the accountancy marketplace with its online accounting software aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises. The software, according to Bullet HQ, replaces the need for an accountant by sorting the books and payroll, and filing all tax returns for businesses.

In 2010, software developer John Farrelly’s accountant failed to file his tax returns, costing Farrelly a small fortune. Instead of complaining about the fact his accountant hadn’t done the job he paid him to do, Farrelly went about creating a solution, so such an event could never happen again.

Farrelly had been developing computer games since the age of seven, ultimately going on to specialise in data mining and Java development, running his own consultancy business.

He teamed up with Peter Connor and development on Bullet HQ’s software began.

Bullet’s technology replaces the need for an accountant for the purpose of doing books, payroll and all tax returns. It automates tax returns – from Vat3 to B1 forms – for SMEs.

“With no training or experience needed, the business owner just raises invoices, tracks expenses and pays staff. Bullet gathers that information and generates all the tax returns automatically when it’s time to submit them,” Connor says.

“You can send invoices using the software. It will also generate all your tax returns, employee tax returns, VAT returns and end-of-year returns.”

The product will automatically generate all the relevant tax filing for businesses and sole traders, with no accounting expertise required by the user. The product’s user interface was designed separately from the accounting backend to ensure a simple user experience.

“There is an interesting hurdle to get over when you’re building a product – you can’t treat it like your baby. If people keep having the same problem or difficulty with your product, then there’s something wrong with your product, not the people. You need to stay objective.”

As part of their market research, it was Connor’s mother who became the guinea pig, testing out the technology to ensure it was easy to use.

“My mother is nearly 80 and she tested the software for us. We wanted it to be easy for anyone to use.”

Connor says the software has the ability to disrupt the accountancy marketplace as 80 per cent of the companies in Ireland are SMEs, and Bullet can offer them substantial savings.

“Often companies will pay between €2,000 and €6,000 a year for an accountant, whereas we only charge €360. If you’re a sole trader it will cost €12.95 per month.”

Farrelly and Connor have also created an iPhone app to complement the service. The app tracks expenses by taking photographs of receipts, to a standard acceptable by the Revenue Commissioners.

“You can throw away your receipts after photographing them on the app, so it eliminates the need to store them all.”

Bullet’s application also tracks mileage for business journeys using the iPhone’s location finder.

“By using your phone’s GPS it can track your mileage, calculate the expenses and automatically add it to your payroll instantly.”

For example, a business trip from Dublin to Galway return is worth about €240 tax free in mileage expenses. Even a trip from Monkstown to Castleknock return would be worth about €35, so it’s important for businesses to be claiming mileage expenses they are entitled to.

“The most efficient way to reduce your tax bill legitimately is on mileage.”

The reaction to the company which launched just three months ago has been positive. Prior to official launch, Bullet had some 250 beta users using the product.

“We now have had more than 450 paying companies sign up for the service,” Connor says.

The business received a grant from Leitrim County Enterprise Board and New Frontiers.

“We did everything from the development of the software to the launch for €1,400. We are living in a land where you’re not a real business if you don’t raise €2 million in funding but we’re proof in the pudding you don’t need vast amounts of cash to start a business.”

And the plan for the remainder of 2012?

“We hope to launch our Android app to track expenses and mileage within the next two months, and we also hope to branch out into the UK.”

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