Founded in 2015, vat4u had a simple goal: to be a product that simplifies your travel expense management process and automates your VAT recovery. In short time is heading towards being Europe’s first automated VAT refund platform.
I joined the team as a co-founder and focused on growing the development team, defining the user experience and design for the products.
Here are some insights on how the service is improving the current experience:
One of the the biggest challenge was finding the right way to handle over 2000 rules within 28 different country legislations.
What we ended up with is a web application that automates this process, improving a lot the efficiency and accuracy of the data added. We've also defined a mobile app, acting as partner to the web app, allowing quick access to reports and adding new expenses.
A simplified version of the process:
Register → Add your invoices → vat4u magic → Claim gets sent → Get your money back
After getting the full picture of the upcoming challenges, I started researching the market to see if there are similar services out there and what makes our product unique in a direct comparison to this concept.
A short conclusion on this is that - although there are a lot of fintech companies/startups trying to solve some aspects of this business, there isn't a lot of movement on this kind of solutions.
At the moment this services are still dominated by financial consultancy companies (running internal solutions or doing this process manually).
Based on the results I started sketching the concept (low fidelity prototype) for the application.
As soon as the concept got closer to a final proposal, I started working on validating the idea. With the first design draft, I started putting together a prototype in InVision.
The main scope of the application is to help you adding expenses on the fly, just by taking a picture of the invoice, and checking if the data scanned is correct.
Secondary the app should be an easy companion and allow you to see current reports of the expenses and overall status of the invoices.
As the application scope is to offer a fast way to add invoices I made sure this option is only one tap away.
Also since the application is showcasing monthly reports, I wanted to turn usually boring reports in something that looks visually better.
Running usability studies on the solutions wasn't as hard as you might imagine. We managed to run internal usability test and also push for an external beta trial to gather more results, prior to the initial launch.
As soon as the product was rolled out we continued the beta phase program to have early phase feedback session.
Although a simple app, the app has a unique look and feel and preserves the same familiarity from the web application, making the entire experience seamless.