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Google Awards Black-Owned Birmingham Firm $150,000 to Advance Tax Software

From left: Justin Robinson, Bre Johnson, Tevin Harrel, Jordan Ward and Olumuyiwa Aladebumoye.

The Birmingham Times

Google recently awarded a Black-owned Birmingham-based company $150,000 in developmental funds to advance and distribute their tax accounting software to millions of Americans through the 2023 Google for Startups Black Founders Fund and Latino Founders Fund.

SmartWiz developed the first-ever all-in-one tax software for tax professionals, and their efforts caught the attention of technology behemoth Google.

“We were tired of seeing people struggle to obtain and manage their documents, and we feel our software will help increase efficiency and expand access for those who may have not had anyone at their side throughout the tax prep process before,” said co-founder Bre Johnson. “SmartWiz wants to impact lives and improve the experience for everyone involved, and we believe our revolutionary software does exactly that.”

Johnson, Olumuyiwa Aladebumoye, Tevin Harrel, Jordan Ward, and Justin Robinson, all Auburn University grads, have grown SmartWiz into a tax professional software and digital accounting firm that optimizes accounting, tax management, legal and consulting services.

They teamed up together in 2016 to create the software, TaxxWiz, a platform to improve access and efficiency through tax preparation and recently rebranded as SmartWiz to expand their business to tax professionals.

SmartWiz has used artificial intelligence (AI) and modern integrations to create software for tax professionals serving underserved communities. SmartWiz is one of 46 U.S. recipients of funding, and the company is riding a wave of momentum. Its software was approved by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) last year, and the company also recently spent three months in Los Angeles as part of a TechStars cohort.

“Our team is very big on strategic partnerships,” said Johnson. “We are big on working with partners who understand our vision to change the world with the way taxes are done forever, and Google has offered such amazing resources and opportunities to us. This funding means to us the ability to build our product faster, scale our organization and really take over the digital space with improved support on how we market our software using Google SEO.”

The six-figure Google for Startups investment will allow SmartWiz to impact the way millions of Americans file their taxes. The funds are equity-free, and SmartWiz also will receive sales and fundraising training, technical support from Google mentors, up to $100,000 in Google Cloud credits, mental health coaching from a team of Black and Latino therapists and participation in the fund’s interactive community.

“As we build out our engineering team, we now have the ability to really focus on improving the technology and AI capabilities to bring tech to the tax industry,” said Johnson. “We will be giving our users a more innovative, fun and revolutionary approach to tax preparation while ensuring every single person who gets their taxes done by someone using our software will have an improved experience every single year. Being Black founders, and even me being a woman, we don’t take this opportunity for granted because we know it is a blessing from God to be chosen by Google for Startups to be a part of this journey.”

Since 2020, the Google for Startups Founders Fund has provided more than $45 million in funding to more than 500 Black and Latino founders, and past recipients have raised more than $400 million in investments after their selections in the fund.