New Member Profile: Boast.AI
Photo: Boast.ai founders Alex Popa and Lloyed Lobo.
Our series profiling CVCA’s new members continues—providing insight on invaluable organizations in our community.
In this entry, we’re excited to profile a new CVCA member, Boast.AI.
Founded in 2011, Boast.AI’s platform automates the process for claiming Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) tax credits in Canada and R&D tax credits in the United States. Boast.ai provides innovative companies with a platform making it easier to track the required details for R&D tax credits claims throughout the year that are due every tax season.
Canada’s SR&ED program uses tax incentives to encourage businesses of all sizes and in all sectors to conduct R&D in Canada. These tax incentives come in three forms: an income tax deduction, an investment tax credit (ITC), and, in certain circumstances, a refund.
We caught up with the Boast.ai team to dive into the history of the company, what they have in the pipeline and what we can expect for R&D taxes in the coming years.
Tell us about Boast.AI, its history, role, and vision.
Boast.AI’s vision is to enable innovators to change the world. From vaccines to robots to clean drinking water, every $1 invested in R&D drives over $20 in new economic activity (source).
Alex Popa and Lloyed founded the company with a lofty mission and a pay-it-forward culture: democratize access to billions in R&D tax credits and innovation funding so innovators can fuel their growth without the red tape, create an ecosystem to connect innovators with the resources they need to succeed, and make a positive impact in communities where we live and work.
Each year the U.S. and Canadian governments provide more than $20 billion in R&D tax credits to fund businesses, but the application process is cumbersome, prone to costly 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. Boast.AI automates and streamlines this process enabling companies to get more money faster for less time and risk.
“Every business should be looking to utilize the government’s tax credit programs to innovate and grow faster,” said Alex Popa, Co-Founder and CEO of Boast.AI. “The application process has traditionally been painful and complex but Boast has the technology to reduce the time to just a few hours a year while increasing the refunds. There’s no reason companies can’t achieve a huge return on their reinvestment of tax credits to accelerate innovation.”
Alex and Lloyed bootstrapped the company for several years, building it carefully with technology and experts that could offer a streamlined, trusted experience for customers. Today the company has industry-leading technology, a massive growing community, integrations, partnerships, and growth to validate its early premise. Forrester claims businesses that are innovation-led grow 260% faster than non-innovation- led companies. Boast wants to help every company in the world innovate faster, and it begins with providing faster access to eligible R&D tax credits.
How does your product work?
Technology to make the R&D / SR&ED tax credit process easy. Boast.AI makes the R&D / SR&ED claim process painless through its automation, artificial intelligence, and data integrations offered in the Boast.AI platform. Boast easily integrates with the most common engineering, payroll, and task management applications. It automatically tracks and categorizes qualifying R&D projects and leverages time stamps to automatically cluster projects and create timesheets. Additionally, Boast has a team of in-house technical R&D tax experts with years of professional experience who prepare and support audit-defensible claims.
Innovative funding to access tax credit capital sooner. Boast makes accessing tax credits easy through its innovative SR&ED Quarterly Advanced Refunds. This is non-dilutive funding that acts as a cash advance against accrued SR&ED tax credits instead of having to wait 12-16 months to receive a refund.
Introduce us to the key people at Boast.AI.
Alex Popa is the Co-Founder and CEO of Boast.AI. Alex is an R&D tax expert and industry thought leader. Prior to his role as CEO and co-founder of Boast, Alex managed the software (ICT) R&D tax practice for Big 4 and large consulting firms. Prior to becoming an R&D tax expert, Alex co-founded an e-commerce startup specializing in online recruitment resources to high turnover industries and was a business intelligence engineer at Johnson & Johnson. Alex holds a B.Eng. in Software Engineering from Lakehead University and a Postgraduate Diploma in Accounting from the University of British Columbia.
Lloyed Lobo is the Co-Founder and President of Boast.AI where he focuses on company vision and strategy. Lloyed also runs Traction, Boast.AI’s non-profit community of +100,000 subscribers which is one of the world’s largest organizations for innovators. Traction brings leaders from the fastest growing companies to share learnings on building, growing, and scaling companies via weekly webinars, regular meetups, and conferences. Previously, Lloyed led sales, marketing, and product for several startups.
Tara Janke is Chief Technology Officer for Boast.AI. Tara leads all aspects of product development, technology, data, security, and user experience. Janke comes with more than 25 years of product management and engineering experience in leading high-performing teams and growing global software companies in multiple sectors, including seven years at sales tax software company Avalara (NYSE: AVLR), where she incubated the EMEA engineering team, from seven to 100+ engineers, and from three to nine product lines, resulting in doubling revenues year over year.
Chris Cottle is Chief Marketing Officer at Boast.AI. Chris has 25 years of experience in brand category design, digital marketing, and brand acceleration for technology companies in both B2B and B2C. His experience spans four acquisitions including Exabyte and MaritzCX, two of his own startups, as well as playing a pivotal role leading marketing at Caldera through its successful IPO. Chris was most recently EVP Marketing at SaaS experience improvement leader InMoment.
Tim Fisher is Chief Financial Officer at Boast.AI. Tim joins Boast having successfully grown and managed finance and analytics functions for multiple venture-backed startups. Tim was most recently at Lumere, which was acquired by GHX in January 2020.
Laurie Schultz is a Boast.AI independent board member. She was the CEO of Galvanize, a SaaS Governance, Risk Management and Compliance (GRC) software company that was acquired for $1 billion USD by Diligent Corporation. She led the transformation of Galvanize’s global business by mobilizing talent toward category disruption, successfully repositioning the company to one of Canada’s Top 100 and Best Managed employers. With over 30 years of experience, Schultz has also held leadership positions at several multi-billion-dollar businesses including Sage and Intuit, where she helped double both revenues and profits.
- Boast has a highly diverse workforce that is located all over Canada and parts of the United States.
- Boast supports employee community and environmental giving through give-back programs, celebrations, and charity work.
- Boast clients love the partnership. They stay year over year—helping the company maintain an industry-high 95% client retention rate.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, can you tell us about what you see down the road and any exciting developments?
Boast’s business expanded rapidly during the pandemic, largely because businesses needed their R&D tax credits more than ever. Boast’s clients’ ability to continually innovate has been critical to their growth, and by hiring great talent and developing innovations, they can better sustain growth during market fluctuations.
Boast is expanding rapidly with hiring, technology innovation and development, geographic expansion, and product offering expansion. The company invests in people and processes that promote scale and efficiency. Boast’s goal is to help businesses all over the globe innovate faster through tax credits and other funding.
What is Boast.AI excited about on the immediate horizon and in the long run?
Over the past six months, Boast has celebrated some very exciting milestones. In Dec 2020c it announced its C$30 million Series A funding and it secured a USD $100 million credit facility in early 2021 to help clients finance their R&D.
Boast goals for 2021 include growing the team—the company has already more than doubled its headcount from 35 in 2020 to an anticipated 100+ at the end of 2021. It has expanded its presence in the U.S. market and in the types of markets it serves in Canada and the U.S. Revenue will more than double in 2021, and the company maintains profitability.
According to recent Boast proprietary research, 84% of Canadian business leaders view investing in innovation as very important or extremely important. But when it comes to linking innovation and R&D spend to financial outcomes, over 80% of leaders either don’t do anything at all or use mostly manual (cumbersome and difficult) processes.
Because of its technology platform, Boast can offer clients unique insights into their R&D and innovation processes, including how to accelerate innovation and data to help them link innovation to financial outcomes. Boast makes access to tax credit capital easy through innovative financing solutions that help owners keep their equity. This approach supports the Boast mission to help companies change the world through innovation.
How do you see the R&D tax space evolving in the coming years?
There’s no doubt that the R&D tax space will continue to grow, especially within Canada. As part of the proposed Federal 2021 budget, the Canadian government will be investing heavily in fostering growth and innovation through R&D. The proposed SR&ED budget is expected to accelerate certain sectors, such as clean technology, aerospace, and life sciences.
This is a great sign for any startup or business conducting R&D work within Canada because there will be many opportunities for entrepreneurs to find non-dilutive funding such as grants, small business loans, and SR&ED. For more information, visit Boast.ai