Dallas-based BaCo Tech—whose patented accounting workflow technology turns redundant tasks into one-touch solutions—has had a busy week. First, it announced it was rebranding as Once Accounting Technologies to create “a more permanent presence in the industry.” Then today it was selected to participate in the 2022 Startup Accelerator sponsored by the American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and CPA.com.
Ten companies in the U.S. and Canada were chosen for the 2022 Startup Accelerator, including Frisco-based Knuula, whose platform enables firms to easily customize, distribute, and manage client engagement letters. Selected companies receive a $25,000 grant, participate in a six-month curriculum, receive expert advisor guidance, and get the opportunity to showcase their solutions at AICPA Engage, the industry’s largest annual conference.
“We created this program five years ago as a way to identify emerging trends and drive innovation within the accounting profession,” said Erik Asgeirsson, president and CEO of CPA.com, in a statement. “The Accelerator has been a great success, supporting leading-edge companies to help drive the transformation of accounting services in key areas such as blockchain, assurance, ESG, and automation.”
The Once platform is a ‘“touch-it-once’ solution
Once Accounting’s platform launched in January 2020 to solve every CPA’s recurring nightmare: A client waits until nearly April 15 to disclose an event with big tax implications. The CPA is forced to dig back in the past to tease out details and enter a long list of info—along with other redundant tasks repeated manually, year after year.
With the Once platform, redundant tasks are done automatically and done only once. The CPA is alerted to tax-significant transactions throughout the year, and fixed assets additions can be entered in real time. The startup says it achieves all this by focusing on accounting standards, not a balance—making “touch-it-once” possible for the accounting and tax industry.
“What was shocking to me was how many little ‘mistakes’ a business can make in their books that affect taxes that may never get caught, simply because a CPA doesn’t have time to get into that detail,” Will Baker, Once Accounting’s marketing and CPA experience director, told Dallas Innovates. “Now with our tool they do.”
By implementing the Once workflow, clients can gather client accounting data, map client data for tax returns, create book-to-tax adjustments, and consolidate client financials—”once, forever.”
After a client is onboarded into the platform’s Chart of Accounts map, “the client doesn’t have to be onboarded or mapped again,” Baker explained. “With a normal tax workflow, a CPA has to remap everything every year, maybe multiple times in one tax season, just because of how slow it takes to get the client data. For our tech, once a CPA client is connected, it’s connected—and we gather information every day.”
Founder and CEO wanted to ease long, unhealthy workloads
Ford Baker is Once Accounting’s founder and CEO, and the father of Will Baker. Since 1999, Ford has been the CEO of his Farmers Branch accounting firm BaCo Group (earlier named Baker and Company). He decided to pursue the new tech after years of 100-hour work weeks and compromised health, his son Will said. Ford began building out the product in 2018 and 2019 with his CTO, David Knedlik.
“By being built within a CPA firm, it allows our product to be constantly plugged into and listening to the needs of the public accounting industry,” Will Baker said. “We not only understand the technical side of the industry but we know the issues the industry is up against and help provide solutions for it.
Inspired by a quote from Intuit
Ford first got inspired to create the platform when he was able to automate complicated data-gathering for a large client project. As he explored the “touch-it-once” philosophy, he came across a quote from Intuit, the firm behind TurboTax software: “Touch it once is one of the most fundamental principles of productivity and time management, but in the world of tax preparation, it is hard to do.”
Ford’s goal was to make Once Accounting a touch-it-once solution. He and his team discovered that the best way to build that workflow was to go to the raw accounting data—the transactions—and build automation at that level.
“We are now able to deliver ‘touch-it-once’ efficiencies to the industry,” Will Baker said. “We’ve been able to patent these core functionalities so they are exclusive and will remain so.”
Platform launched at the beginning of the pandemic
Ford Baker applied for his patent in 2019 before launching the platform in January 2020—just weeks before the pandemic swept the U.S.
“It really set back our targeted go-to-market date,” Will Baker said. “CPAs had deadlines extended, were slammed by PPP loans, and would ultimately not see daylight again until April of 2021.”
“However, it turned out to be a really good opportunity for us,” he added. “PPP Loans provided one of our best use cases to date of how our solution could help CPAs adapt to their clients’ needs. As a company we rebuilt the product, and pivoted to online education through CPA Academy, allowing us to develop partnerships with industry leaders, influencers, and publications.”
“By summer of 2021, when the industry was ready for new tech, we had great brand positioning and content in place to validate our product and fast track conversations with firms.”
Customers in several states
Once Accounting Technologies currently has offices on Midway Road in Farmers Branch and eight employees, along with some consultants, plus support work from the BaCo Group. Its sales and strategy manager is based in Atlanta, and a key consultant is in California. The startup now has customers in Texas and in “several states” across the U.S.
“Initially we thought we would focus in on the Dallas area for both employees and customers, but pivoting to virtual working environments has opened up who we could work with,” Will Baker said.
Initially, Once envisioned smaller accounting firms as their target customer base. However, “we quickly found that the software is a fit for all size tax firms,” Will Baker said. “We’re currently onboarding a top 100 firm along with smaller and mid-sized firms. After we presented at [the AICPA Engage conference] last July, we had multiple top firms contact us, and we realized that we’re not limited to one buyer persona, but multiples.”
Developed rebrand strategy with Dallas-based Artistry Labs
The Once team worked on their rebrand strategy with Dallas-based consulting and branding agency Artistry Labs, where Will Baker spent the first five years of his career. The startup’s new name is all that’s been revealed so far; still in the works are a new logo, refined messaging, and other brand components.
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