Business Startup Spotlight: Property Tax Detective

Property Tax Detective

Property Tax Detective’s goal is to create an easy to use property tax as a service platform that would allow any homeowner or professional to research, analyze and prepare for a property tax appeal in a clear and transparent manner in minutes.

Property Tax Detective

Max Stolyarov

Name: Property Tax Detective

Location: Northbrook, IL


Product / Service Offering: Property Tax as a Service Platform

Co-founder Interviewed: Max Stolyarov

Other Key Management Team Members: offshore

This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.

Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you.

I purchased, sold, and managed multi-family properties for the past twenty years. I worked as a loan officer for five years, and worked as Property Tax Agent in Cook County for the last seven years. For the last seventeen years, I have also had a software consulting business and worked with companies like Bank of America, Citadel, etc.

I am always motivated to find solutions for industry problems by applying my analytical and software development skills.

When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?

I established Property Tax Detective in March 2012. The idea for the company evolved over many years of frustrated property tax appeals, research and analysis. I felt like I never knew what was happening with property taxes for any of my properties or why my appeal was rejected, even after filing with attorneys.

Being a software developer, I finally wrote my first client application that allowed me to quickly and efficiently research and analyze property taxes on my personal residence.

What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?

Property Tax Detective’s goal is to create an easy to use property tax as a service platform that would allow any homeowner or professional to research, analyze and prepare for a property tax appeal in a clear and transparent manner in minutes.

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What is one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?

We truly developed a white labeled property tax as service platform that provides a comprehensive property tax analysis for any property. Additionally, it can be licensed to any property tax attorney to help them to streamline their business, grow it ten-fold by automating all their manual processes and give them the ability to onboard clients instantaneously.

What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?

The biggest challenges evolved from one to another for me as the company grew. First, it was how to design a simple and easy to use solution that people would use. Second, it was how to grow and continue developing during the software development phase without going bankrupt. Now, the biggest challenge is marketing and growing sales so that I can accelerate expansion to other counties.

I am not sure that I can say I was able to overcome any of the above. However, I learned how to better manage these issues as they manifested.

What resources have you utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful?

Being short on money and unable to hire staff on a permanent basis here in the United States, I used extensively to hire people per project without spending a ton of money. From the people I met, I selected a few that became my permanent development team offshore.

What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?

Property Tax DetectiveI have not secured any funding for my company yet. I am currently working on getting this done, but it takes time.

If I had to start over, I would probably start that process sooner. At the same time, I did not know then what I know now. I would also try to find a co-founder who would take care of marketing and business development, giving me more time to concentrate on the technical development of the platform.

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What questions have you had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly tough time finding the answers to?

When you are starting your own company for the first time, you tend to question everything. How do you avoid scope creep? What features of your platform to develop first? What features are a must versus nice to have? How do you pick the right company direction? How do you hire the right personnel? Who do you ask for advice and where do you find advisors? How to bring on a co-founder? How do you develop marketing strategy and sales strategy? The list goes on and on.

Customer related questions were always difficult for me to find answers to since they were responsible for setting the direction of my company, regardless if they had to do with product features or not. I need to develop pricing, sales strategy or marketing strategy in order to acquire new customers.

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What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?

Right now, my biggest challenges have to do with identifying sales and marketing strategies, finding investments and finishing up the beta version of the product.

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What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?

Learn from your mistakes and treat every meeting, especially bad ones, as an opportunity to learn, do better and improve. Every meeting is a good meeting regardless of the outcome. Just need to stay positive.

Are you familiar with other startups you believe should be spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them in the comments below!

Sandra Sloan

Sandra has previous supply chain and business operations experience which she is leveraging as an author with FundingSage focused on spotlighting entrepreneurs and their startup efforts.