“Do Not Self Select Yourself Out” : How ClearTax Made It To YCombinator

Many startups don’t apply because they make assumptions about how YC or other accelerators think. This applies to business development activities as well.

ClearTax is the first India focused startup accepted in the most sought after startup accelerator programme, i.e. YCombinator.

ClearTax helps Individuals e-File their Tax returns online via their website. All a user has to do is upload their Form-16 PDF and the ClearTax software prepares the tax return instantly and automatically. ClearTax reads everything and fills out the correct tax form at the right places so that you don’t have to.ClearTax_Logo_web

What’s very interesting about clearTax’s YC entry is that the company so far is purely India focused, which is quite unlike YC, as they seem to be more comfortable with ideas focused on US (and developed) markets.

Here is an interview with ClearTax founder, Archit Gupta who demystifies a few myths.

NextBigWhat: Did YC take you up for your Indian plans? Or for the global plan?

Archit Gupta: I think YC looks at founders first and then the business. Right now we are very focused on India and continuing to grow here. We applied to YC with ClearTax. With that said, we have a great example in InMobi where a strong International focus has helped accelerate the company’s growth trajectory. Taxes are country and region specific so it is not an automatic transition. We have different plans that we are validating with experiments.

NextBigWhat: What has been the interview process? what has been your learning from all of this?

Archit Gupta: We applied to Y Combinator via the standard application process. We filled out the YC application form online. At the time of application, we didn’t submit the video (a video of the founders is required as part of the application) as we were in different cities running sales or meetings. We got a message from YC to upload a video to complete the application. We recorded that and later on, we were asked to show up for a ten-minute interview at YC. We flew to California for that and then got in.

Archit, ClearTax CoFounder
Archit, ClearTax CoFounder

The learning is: Don’t self select yourself out. Many startups don’t apply because they make assumptions about how YC or other accelerators think. This applies to business development activities as well. We applied last minute. I wrote the application out a on the last day, few hours before the deadline.

The other learning is to be persistent and patient. Also, find friends who understand the journey to make the journey fun. For example, Vijay Shekhar Sharma (who’s startup journey has been documented by NextBigWhat), has been an incredible friend and was always looking out for us when no one else cared.

For startup founders looking for advice on the application: Writing well is key. I have learned this over time (and it requires a lot of work). For the actual interview, we prepped with six YC alumni who were really helpful. There is a lot of great application advice on ycombinator.com which is useful for applying. We are also happy to help founders in any way we can.

Now within YC, we are getting a lot useful advice from the YC partners and we are working hard to help India e-file!

NextBigWhat:  Future plans for ClearTax?

Archit Gupta: We want to help every tax payer in India to e-file their Tax Return via ClearTax. The plan is to continue to grow in India and help every single tax payer e-file. If users want to self-file, we have software. If users want our CA to assist them in their tax returns, we have CAs. If users go to an outside CA, we have TaxCloud India which is India’s largest online platform for CAs to e-File today. We are very excited about Android and the opportunity it offers.

We are also excited about global opportunity that YC enables us to reach.

Checkout ClearTax’s introduction video

[Note : If you are an entrepreneur, willing to share #StartupLessons, do connect with us : editorial@nextbigwhat.com]

– Also : How to crack YC (Interviewstreet Interview).

– Recommended Read : Here’s How You Can Make it to Startup Chile

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