Back in July of this year, I joined untied as Chief Product Officer. The founders, Kevin and Marcus, wowed me with their infectious energy and ‘just do it!’ attitude. But they really hooked me with their clarity of vision. Did you know, as a nation we spend 100 million hours, £3bn in accountancy fees and countless sleepless nights on our taxes? Imagine giving that time, that money and that freedom, back to people. That’s untied.

As a curious product manager, I had to understand the problems behind this, who has them and existing solutions. Being a stubborn product manager too, I had to find out for myself. So that’s exactly what I did!

Getting out of the building

You can’t beat open-ended interviews for this kind of discovery work. In general, I’m a big fan of just ‘getting out of the building’ and speaking directly with people! I used the excellent Customer Development Labs to devise a script, then set about recruiting:

  1. Existing users: To understand their motivations and experience with the product.
  2. Prospective users (i.e. those in our target market who aren’t yet users): To understand their problems at a higher level without skewing the conversation towards our solution.

Armed with some Amazon vouchers, a list of users and some paid advertising, the interview requests started coming in…

The results

In the end, I spoke with 20 self-employed individuals across a range of domains and industries. These brilliant people shared some fascinating insights about their work and their personal relationship with tax. Many prospective users also became users and provided invaluable feedback on our Early Access Programme – bonus!

There were many highlights from these conversations, but there was a single theme which stood out. A theme which was enthusiastically supported by all of the founder’s research too. In a nutshell, tax is an emotive subject and for most people, falls somewhere on the spectrum between ‘hassle’ and ‘worry’. Rather than go into all the details, there’s a quick summary of each at the top of this article.

Wrapping up

This was a fantastic exercise for me to get started but is only one piece of an ongoing process. As a product company we need ongoing feedback and encourage users to engage however they can – via our Slack group, email or product portal. Through these conversations, we can evolve our understanding of user problems alongside the product itself.

Do any of these problems resonate with you? Do you need to file a self-assessment tax return or do you find tax a hassle or a worry? If so, untied was built for you. We’re currently offering the first 6 months for free, which includes the ability to submit your 2018/19 tax return straight from your mobile. What are you waiting for? Join the tax revolution today!

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