How We Rebuilt Our Company And Plan To Launch New Products This Year

Published: February 19th, 2022
Vamshi Vangapally
Founder, BearTax
from Atlanta, Georgia, USA
started February 2018
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Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.

My name is Tela Andrews and I’m the CEO of BearTax, a crypto tax software solution designed to help you quickly and simply calculate your crypto tax liability — aka, your gains and losses.


Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?

2021 was a building year for us. The market took off over the last year, with multiple competitors raising hundred million dollar rounds. It was hard to maintain discipline in that environment - I wanted us to move fast. But we needed to apply the lessons we learned over the last three years to win.

Being self-aware about sunk cost fallacy is one of the best things you can do to extend your runway.

We rebuilt the company over the last few months. Our team is almost entirely new, anchored by Vamshi, our co-founder and chief product officer. We’ve brought on a CTO, Head of R&D, and four other engineers (many are friends I worked with at Avalara).

We’ve also rebuilt the entire product so that it can scale. Our addressable market is every business and crypto user in the world. We needed a user experience that can support millions of users. And we needed a platform that can scale to support the largest enterprises. I’m thrilled with our solution, but it takes discipline to stick to your guns when the market is moving.

We are seeing the results of that, and are signing partners at an incredible pace, even before our new solution is live. Crypto wallets, exchanges, and other crypto businesses need a solution like BearTax, and our product is the only global-scale crypto tax solution.

Our partner solution is an integrated tax center. One tactic that’s worked well for us is to launch with partners using a joint marketing campaign, then get an integration on their roadmap. This lets us create value in the partnership, quickly, and decouple it from the roadmap.

What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?

The biggest lesson learned was to not follow the sunk cost. I was working on an entirely different product at the beginning of 2021, launched it, and it failed. It was a tough lesson. But I quickly realized it, made the decision to pause and take a beat (I’d been working 90 hours a week on that project - not recommended, but I wanted to prove to myself that I could).

It was only when I took a step back and intentionally opened myself up to other possibilities that I found the BearTax opportunity. My story with BearTax is complex, and not the typical straight-line founder story. It has twists and turns, but those are valuable.

BearTax was started in 2018 by Vamshi, and he built a phenomenal MVP. But for a variety of reasons, wasn’t able to take it to the next level with his team. I had a phenomenal team that I’d built on my other project, and have also scaled two other tax software businesses.

When I got into the BearTax product, it was clear we needed to rebuild. It was also clear that the team and experience we had on the previous product mapped over to BearTax nearly perfectly. So, in an ideal world, I’d have been there on Day 1. But, the world doesn’t always cooperate and it’s important to recognize the advantages of your situation rather than apologize that they don’t fit the market’s expectations.

Being self-aware about sunk cost fallacy is one of the best things you can do to extend your runway.

What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?

The plan for 2021 is to scale massively and capitalize on the product and partner foundations we’ve laid. BearTax is already built for the global market, and we’re expanding in the U.S., Asia, and other key markets. And this isn’t a sales effort; our product needs to support the tax laws and requirements in each country, and be localized in many other ways. We’re expanding globally, and doing so aggressively.

I’m excited about crypto tax getting complex. So far, the real challenge in the market that BearTax solves is calculating cost basis and profit/loss for crypto. We’re starting to see the government create tax rules specific to crypto, and this is going to accelerate. Our product is built to handle this, and I think this is where most of our competitors will fail. It’s really hard to get right while you scale if you haven’t planned for it.

The new investor product we’re launching soon will be game-changing. Mobile, to work with folks who prefer mobile wallets. Global, for customers in any country. And with some phenomenal launch partners.

In five years my goal is for BearTax to serve a majority of the world’s population and companies.

Have you read any good books in the last year?

The book that’s been most inspirational for me is called Permanence by Karl Schroeder. It’s not a business book - it’s a hard-core sci-fi space opera. The theme of the book is finding the pace, and the way you need to think to create a human civilization that can endure for millennia.

One of the human civilizations uses technology that’s a combination of blockchain, metaverse, and IoT to run their economy. These choices of technology, the pace of society, and what they value has profound implications for their viability. There are lessons in Permanence that directly map to what I intend to build with BearTax, and help me make choices that take society in a positive direction.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?

It may be obvious, but most businesses fail because of a lack of distribution, not because of product-market fit issues. Smart entrepreneurs are going to build products that some people want. But, can they reach enough of them in a scalable way?

I’ve also now bought into the idea of product-market-price fit, as a modified and more useful model than product-market fit. I encourage entrepreneurs to shift to this model. Essentially, it just means that you have a product that a segment of customers finds valuable at a certain price. Using this model encourages price discovery and experimentation. Price is just as big a lever as distribution. Using price and distribution in combination can be very effective.

The last is clarity. Do the hard work, in long-form, to write the hypotheses. Write the plan. Ake the business case - even if it’s just yourself starting. It forces you to address the hard issues, and you can’t gloss over the important parts in long-form. When you scale, these early thoughts and learnings will be invaluable. Spend 20% of your time writing that is not direct communication to other people.

Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?

We for sure are hiring! Specifically, we’re looking for a Site Reliability Engineer and a Product Marketing Manager.

The Site Reliability Engineer is highly important in the engineering organization. They’ll be tasked with building software and automation that will improve our system reliability and performance at scale.

The Product Marketing Manager will be working cross-functionally across the organization to craft compelling stories, create sales resources, leverage data to search for growth opportunities in the product experience, and more.

Both roles are full-time and offer medical/dental/vision benefits. We’re also a fully and globally distributed team. If you’re interested, just head over to our job board and drop us an application!

Where can we go to learn more?

Vamshi Vangapally, Founder of BearTax
Pat Walls,  Founder of Starter Story
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