Maria Scott is co-founder and CEO of TAINA Technology Limited, a business she is building with the help of Chicago Booth’s Global New Venture Challenge [GNVC]. Scott spent over a decade as a corporate tax lawyer for JP Morgan Chase Bank and is an Executive MBA student at the London Chicago Booth campus. Scott and her team just finished competing in the GNVC semi-finals in London, and have secured their spot to compete in the final competition on March 16th in Chicago. Below, she shares some of the team’s history, expertise, and insights gained through GNVC.
Governments all around the world are clamping down on tax avoidance. As part of this mission, the governments of the US and the OECD introduced the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act and the OECD framework regulations which, between them, apply to virtually every financial institution in the world - including investment banks, asset managers, insurers and even Fintechs who are financial institutions.
According to the American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland, the financial services industry is estimated to be devoting a trillion US dollars to comply with these regulations. Another problem is the high error rate reported in these documents, on average at 65%. What’s more, compliance with these regulations ties up a great deal of skilled and valuable human capital at financial institutions that could be performing higher value creative functions.
Our company, TAINA, has developed a patent-pending solution that will help financial institutions automate compliance with these regulations, whilst saving them costs and reducing the risk of heavy fines.
My teammates and I are all part of the Executive MBA ’17 cohort. We are based all over the world – in Germany, the Middle East, Russia, UK and the US. Collectively, we have decades of experience working in financial institutions world-wide, and understand the acute pain points of this issue and the need for an automated solution.
Like the overall Executive MBA cohort, my GNVC team offers a phenomenal range of expertise. Tim Bode is a professional investor and helps us to understand our business from an investors' perspective. Aliyu Brimah is a Cyber and Data Security expert – a skill that is very important to our clients in this day and age. Asia is a big potential market for us, and we have Ghee Chuan Chew who defines our Asia strategy. Jeff Gutierez has 20 years of Software Development experience and has been building our solution, together with our computer scientists. John Mazarakis, Chief Operating Officer at Season’s Pizza, brings a phenomenal track record of business building and an investor perspective. Towfiq Mir is a FATCA & CRS expert, with years of experience working at financial institutions in the MENA region. Ruslan Sibaev has spent many years working in senior trading positions in a major financial institution. Kathy Thurston is a team member who has a wealth of experience in financial services. Finally, Maxim Penkin is an alumnus of the program and has a background in investing and business building. Maxim has been advising us on our strategy and the financial model.
For me, this is an opportunity to do something really meaningful. I now completely understand a quote I heard some time ago that you will love your first clients like your family. It is really true!
Besides bringing us together, Chicago Booth has provided a collaborative environment for our discussions and brainstorming sessions. The team got together during class weeks and formed close bonds through our work. Outside of class week, we’re in constant touch through conference calls, Google hangouts and WhatsApp.
The GNVC has brought us really valuable mentoring from the faculty and access to some amazing mentors outside of Booth like Tom Yoritaka, Hernando Bunuan, Cornel Chiriac, Keith Breslauer, JT Wong and Noura Abdullah. This is particularly valuable given that the mentors are either professional investors or have an impressive track record of building strong businesses from the start-up stage. Professor Deutsch has given us a great deal of really valuable guidance.
The most difficult thing through this process has been trying to keep all our important stakeholders – our colleagues, family and friends – reasonably happy with us. There are so many conflicting priorities at all times and eventually we have to accept that building a company is a constant balancing act. This is really tough when you care about all these people and want everyone to be happy, all the time!
The most encouraging thing has been the feedback from our classmates (who, after several presentations, know our business better than anyone!) and the GNVC judges. Their validation of our business is extremely meaningful.
We will do our best at the GNVC final in Chicago, and will try to do justice to all of our mentors and supporters. Most importantly, we are also in the process of preparing a pilot program with our first client. We are working really hard on this and are determined to make it a success.
Maria Scott, '17 (EXP-22)