The Codific Innovation Sandbox is our division that partners with visionary entrepreneurs and industry experts to turn ideas into products, visions into companies, and dreams into reality. One such visionary is Danny Vermeiren. Danny is a seasoned VAT professional with over 20 years of experience in European VAT and global indirect taxes of which he spent the last years focusing almost exclusively on VAT automation. Danny founded VALITAX to realize his vision for an automated VAT engine and selected Codific for the technical execution.
Today, less than two years into the project VALITAX was acquired by EY, the global leader in the field and Danny is joining EY as an Associate Partner. A great achievement for everyone involved!
So, we raise our glass to a great partnership, and to the outstanding execution of everyone involved. But only one glass, because EY has great plans for VALITAX and Codific will continue to support them in their journey, so tomorrow we are back to coffee, energy drinks, and making dreams happen.
Interview with Danny Vermeiren:
When did you realize this could and should be done? (when was the vision formed)
During the course of my career in VAT, I have worked in various positions as an in-house VAT manager and gathered a lot of experience with various types of tax technology tools. As I implemented and tested many tools each promising to solve the problems of the previous one, I found myself at least partly disappointed at each occasion and thinking “what if…”. That is when I started dreaming about designing what in my head would be the ultimate VAT solution, designed by and for (VAT) users.
How did you manage to execute on such a challenge in an industry dominated by big global players?
It’s true that in the course of the last 18 months, the thought occurred to me a couple of times that what I was trying to do, could potentially be more than I could chew off, but I have always tried to focus on my strengths as a start-up, rather than dwelling on the downsides. For the first time in my career, I found myself in a position where I could truly make every design and investment decision and face the immediate consequences both positive and sometimes less positive. What helped me tremendously throughout the journey so far, is without a doubt my professional network. From the beginning, a number of people in particular have been very supportive and have believed in my project from the very beginning, allowing me to get very valuable feedback and traction on multiple fronts and ultimately even leading to the acquisition of my company.
What was the role of Codific in the execution and what did you appreciate the most?
Codific has done a tremendous job developing the core VALITAX application. From the beginning to the end, the team has been amazing at understanding the sometimes very (VAT) technical requirements, designing the most optimal technical solution, and coding the solution in a clean and agile way within agreed timeframes and budget. I think it is fair to say that during the entire development path that we have gone through, the team not once told me that something was “not possible”. Instead, the team demonstrated a true can-do mentality and was always available to think about new and better ways to do things. I am looking forward to the next chapter of our journey together!
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs in the Fin-Tech industry at the beginning of their journey? Lessons to take away….
First of all, I am humbled by the question. It feels like I have only just started my journey, and I am not sure I have a lot of wisdom to share. I guess my advice would be: go for it! If you have that great idea and you are thinking about starting your own business, do it. Start today rather than tomorrow. And I am not suggesting you now all go and quit your current job in a dramatic scene and then go home to ‘be an entrepreneur’. It’s not a binary thing. What I have found during my journey is that sometimes it takes very little to get started. You would be amazed in today’s world how many resources are freely available to you, that can help you develop your idea to the second level, maybe just enough to get some funding and get to level 3 and so on. The hardest part is starting. So, my advice: start, in whatever shape or form that works best for you, and build a little bit every single day.
Click here to read the press release by EY (Ernst and Young)