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Founders Everywhere: Colin Horsford
Colin Horsford is the co-founder & CEO of Muse, a startup leveraging AI to optimize tax deductions and provide personalized tax and financial insights to individual and SMB taxpayers.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Am I missing any deductions or credits on my tax return? This is a question that everyone asks themself before submitting to Uncle Sam. Understanding the intricacies of tax codes is something the average taxpayer will never fully understand, yet it’s crucial for tax compliance, making informed decisions, and financial security. Muse is a startup that uses AI to navigate the complex and constantly changing tax codes, generating tax recommendations in just 20 to 30 seconds, as opposed to the hours it may take a human to prepare. Through strategic partnerships with financial institutions, Muse delivers its services using a B2B model. Users input their tax returns and transaction data into the Muse system, which continuously updates itself with the latest tax code changes. This ensures that users receive up-to-date, accurate, and efficient tax advice, ultimately saving them time and money. They recently received an investment from Potential VC, Zeal Capital, Lytical Ventures, Techstars and Everywhere Ventures to continue their mission.
Muse co-founders Colin Horsford, CPA, MBA and Busayo Ogunsanya, CPA, MST, share a similar background. They met in 2008 at Ernst and Young, where they worked on the same team while pursuing their CPA licenses. They left to work in the financial sector on Wall Street and eventually they each established their own CPA practices. Busayo is the author of various publications related to tax deductions and Colin was on the Intuit Tax Council (Intuit is the owner of TurboTax). They both have a deep understanding of the tax code and finance, as well as a shared vision to use their knowledge to provide valuable financial insights to consumers and businesses.
What is Muse’s North Star?
We want to create a world where consumers are guided by the right tax and financial insights, where they understand the tax considerations and financial implications of every transaction they make. In addition to tax-related services, we're committed to assisting our clients set up their finances in a way that will build wealth and financial security.
What’s on the horizon for Muse?
So we have some partnerships lined up with some banks, tax prep companies, and other institutions handling financial transactions. We’re going to be releasing a few features that will revolutionize the way you look at your finances, so stay tuned for that announcement. Overall, we’re making sure that we have a public facing API that anyone can use and continue to expand the reach of the company.
Why the name Muse?
About 7 years ago Busayo, my co-founder, created an AI tax chatbot called Ask My Uncle Sam (AMUS). Playing off that name I said we’re “My Uncle Sam Experts” or “My Uncle Sam’s Estimate,” (MUSE) because we tell you what Uncle Sam is estimating for your return. And then besides a muse being a form of inspiration, it also means to think about something carefully and thoroughly, which is exactly what we’ve done with taxes and finances.
What makes you a unique founder?
I’m a CPA, a big numbers guy, with a strong foundation in finance and technology. I taught myself how to code 8 years ago. I have my Master’s in Statistics and Quantitative Finance and when I went to work on Wall Street, in order to really understand how to build trading strategies I needed to know how to code, so I learned. I called it “The Other Nine to Five.” I worked for someone else from 9am to 5pm (and usually longer), and then I worked on myself from 9pm to 5am.
What drives you to go into start-up battle day after day?
I see we have an opportunity to change the financial landscape for everyone by helping them make smart money decisions. 83% of taxpayers say they are looking for some type of insights to impact their financial outcomes and we are providing that for them. Most people don’t have the funds to pay a CPA, tax lawyer, or financial advisor, as they cost an average of $2,371. I’m definitely not driven by the monetary side, because if that were the case, I would have stayed in my CPA practice. What truly drives me is the desire to change the industry.
Fun fact: I studied art growing up and know way more about art than most people would imagine. Not only do I know artists, but can point out the different styles and brushstrokes.
Episode 17 of the Venture Everywhere podcast, Stacked with Stackend with Andreas "Anton" Ströberg and Eamonn Carey is out. Listen now on Apple, Spotify, Pandora and check out all our past episodes here!
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