Co-founders Alex Popa and Lloyed Lobo of Boast.ai tell us about helping companies grow their R&D credits faster in a compliant and hassle-free way.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alex Popa: We’re blessed. We have our health and get to spend more time with our family. We have a great team, and our company has been growing like never before.
Lloyed had a close call with COVID and is just bouncing back.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Boast.ai.
Alex Popa: We are both immigrants, me having grown up in Romania, and Lloyed being a refugee of the gulf war. We met when we were in college and studied software engineering together. We were partners in every project and have been best friends since. Lloyed is my daughter’s godfather, and I am Lloyed’s daughter’s godfather.
Post engineering, I got into Johnson & Johnson’s engineering leadership program and then did a startup that didn’t work out, so I went back to school to study accounting to beef up my accounting & finance skills as I felt that was a key gap in my skillset to building a successful startup. Due to my rare combination of engineering and accounting skillset, I was recruited by a Big 4 accounting firm to become a leader in their R&D tax group.
Post-engineering, Lloyed worked in product management, sales, and marketing at a number of startups.
Working in R&D tax, I was aware of the manual and cumbersome process. When I called Lloyed to start Boast, Lloyed jumped at the opportunity to work together with his college buddy. Lloyed was in San Francisco at the time, and I was in Canada at the time. We started Boast out of my spare bedroom, and Lloyed spent a year shuttling back and forth between SF and Canada. Today we’ve helped 1,000+ customers on both sides of the border.
How does Boast.ai innovate?
Lloyed Lobo: Each year, the US and Canadian governments provide more than $15 billion in R&D tax credits to fund businesses, but the application process is cumbersome, prone to stressful audits, and receiving the money can take as long as 16 months because applicants need to wait for the tax filing season and government processing times.
Effectively companies investing in R&D and product development incur expenses throughout the year but cannot see a cash benefit from the R&D credits owed by the government without filling significant paperwork and waiting until several months after their tax year has ended.
Boast connects with a company’s technical and financial stack to streamline the process, helping them get more money faster in a compliant and hassle-free way. Effectively, companies can connect their systems to Boast.AI and get money right away instead of waiting 12-16 months to fill paperwork and government processing times.
We’ve secured $123M in funding during the pandemic to help companies fuel their growth without delay while preserving equity and avoiding red-tape.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?.
Lloyed Lobo: Startups play a significant role in economic growth by developing new innovations that shape the future and create jobs. The global startup economy is worth over $3 trillion. However, since the beginning of COVID-19, 74% of all startups have been forced to trim staff.
As a result, startups are increasingly looking for alternative funding solutions, and we’ve seen a huge increase in our client base because of that.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alex Popa: As founders, our families often become collateral damage to our entrepreneurial dreams. Every once in a while, you have to take a step back and reflect on what truly is essential. Ultimately, it’s not the money in the bank but the people around your tombstone that matters more.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and Boast in the future?
Alex Popa: There’s a lot of research proving that exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function. During the pandemic, some of our team members launched a CoFit Challenge where we work out together on Zoom during a set time daily, and each day a different team member recommends a workout.
As leaders, our job is to build, inspire and motivate people to deliver. Delivery is the lagging indicator. If you’re truly invested in helping your people grow, your business will grow. We have an inspiring mission of accelerating the success of innovative companies and want to leave a legacy behind that we’ve created a meaningful impact.
I think we’re well on that journey – to date, we’ve helped 1,000+ companies secure more than $200M in R&D tax credits to fund their business.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Lloyed Lobo: Most of our competitors end up being consulting companies and tax firms that have a manual approach to the process. We plan to stay in the game by continually innovating and delivering on our brand promise of getting companies more money faster for less time and risk.
Our customers love us because we are truly invested in their growth beyond just providing a service. When we started Boast, the mission we wrote on the wall was to help innovative companies become successful. While Boast supports that mission through our product, we also co-founded TractionConf.io and helped build it into a community of over 90,000 entrepreneurs and technology professionals to take that mission further. Over the last seven years, we’ve brought leaders from the fastest growing companies like Shopify, Twilio, LinkedIn, Qualtrics, Google, etc. to share advice via weekly webinars, regular dinners and meetups, and an annual conference, with the proceeds benefiting the local communities where we do business.
Your final thoughts?
Alex Popa: We’re hiring 40+ positions across customer success, engineering, product, and sales. More at https://boast.ai/careers