As South African virtual tax advisor TaxTim goes from strength to strength, the creator of the chat platform behind the trending new product and co-founder of TaxTim, Evan Robinson, tells HumanIPO about the technicalities behind creating an easy-to-use and expandable new chat program.
HumanIPO: How is the TaxTim chat platform is innovative?
Evan Robinson: Our system allows the user to navigate quickly through an extensive body of knowledge by seeing only a simple conversation. On the Admin side, multiple flow charts or “knowledge trees” are built via a simple drag-and-drop interface. These trees then fit together and directly animate the dialogue of our character Tim. The user is free to navigate the information as they require, without ever seeing the complexity behind it.
Does TaxTim use fully automated questions/answers? If so, how do users submit their own questions?
The dialogue that helps users complete their own tax returns is completely automated, using the process above. We collect direct user feedback on each question though to make sure the language is just right - a constant process of optimisation for us. If customers have any further tax questions, they can ask us via our free tax questions page and either immediately view a relevant answer from someone before, or we will answer the question manually.
How will TaxTim cope technically as more users sign up?
We are hosted on Amazon’s cloud offering EC2 so each component of the stack – database, DNS, file storage and processing power – is separate and can be adjusted for scale independently and rapidly when required. Automatic horizontal scaling is configured so that our system essentially clones itself when traffic surges.
Will you have to change the system as you expand to other countries?
No, the system is essentially a ready-to-go business in a box for running in other countries. Licensing TaxTim and making it into a business would require only a chartered accountant to input the local tax rules into the backend and a sales/marketing team to communicate the service to the public and corporate clients. We are currently looking for partners who might be interested in this. Any product expansions, for example extra payment gateways for mobile payments, would be made by our team on request