Saturday, June 28, 2008

Here's an idea for a startup project

I was (re)reading Paul Graham's older essays [*], and was thinking about his contention that one can get ideas for startups just by reading a business newspaper for a week.

Well, I didn't do that, but here's an idea all the same.

The IT Department has taken to electronic filing of tax returns in a big way, and have published an XML schema for this, in addition to launching web services for consuming the electronic filings.

I have been using this system for filing my returns, and have found the procedures in place quite cumbersome -- last year it was Adobe Reader , with all its quirks and bugs, while this year it's an Excel document that serves the same purpose, though not very well.

Now, if somebody comes up with a tool that does this job in a more user-friendly manner, I'm sure there would be takers. Mind you, the tool would not be very complicated, so one cannot charge more than, say, 50 bucks for it, but there's still some money to be made.

There is already a web-based solution for this (, but it involves storing your personal finance data in somebody else's servers. The tool I have in mind will be a purely client-side solution, one that will simply take your data and create an XML version of it that you can upload to the IT department's website yourself. What the hell, one might even go all the way and put in the functionality to upload the XML file as well.

Things like piracy, ease of installation (think applets) are to be worked out, but hey, this is just a blog post, not a pitch to a VC.

[*] I know, I said earlier that I had stopped reading them, but his essays keep appearing on Reddit's front page, and let me be honest -- he does write well, and makes you question a lot of things.