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You are a fourth-year law student. The worst is over and the degree is pretty much in the bag. You find yourself in an unprecedented situation where you have too much free time. What do you do?
At a time when startups are mushrooming from every nook and cranny, two law students from National Law University, Delhi are riding the wave with their venture, Kitnatax.com.
Fourth-year students Aroon Menon and Pranav Jain started the online tax calculator in a bid to help restaurant patrons know exactly how much tax to pay for their meals. Bar & Bench caught up with the duo to discuss their brainchild, the legal issues associated with it, future plans and more.
Below are excerpts from the interview.
Bar & Bench: What was the inspiration behind Kitnatax?
Aroon Menon & Pranav Jain: Necessity. One of the main objectives of Kitnatax is to prevent establishments from overcharging through incorrect application of the relevant charges and taxes. The thought came to us only after almost being overcharged ourselves. At the time, we prevented that from happening because we knew that the taxes had been incorrectly applied and so we did not hesitate to point that out. At another time we were presented a bill which included a service charge on a home-delivery order (which is wrong!). We realized that while we are aware of such things, it isn’t common knowledge and others are not.
B&B: How did you go about setting it up?
AM & PJ: The first step was deciding a domain name. That itself can take a while, especially when you’re working in a team. Then came the most important bit – designing the application. We wanted to keep it as simple and user friendly as possible. We did do most of it ourselves, but for certain aspects of the applications, we hired a professional. For the actual substance of the application, we had to read a fair bit. Apart from state legislations, we had to sift through many notifications and circulars in order to be certain about what we’re claiming.
A very crucial aspect of your planning is understanding the costs involved in your venture. We had to know what our limit was and how best to work within that limit.
B&B: So how does it work?
AM & PJ: It is very simple. You just have to punch in the price of the items under different heads such as food, alcohol, beverages and hookah. You will get individual items inclusive of taxes and also a total bill which is inclusive of taxes. You do not need to register/log-in to be able to use it.
B&B: Did your legal knowledge come in handy?
AM & PJ: We would say that having read law for the past four years certainly helped. We knew exactly where to look for our sources.
B&B: What are the legal issues faced by startup apps like yours?
AM & PJ: We needed to be certain we’re not stepping on anybody’s toes. The biggest issue would definitely be somebody copying our work. All startups fear this in the initial days of its operations, when it is just beginning to create a space for its name and service.
B&B: Are you looking for external funding?
AM & PJ: Not at the moment. Yes we’re functioning on a very tight budget (being students), but for now we intend to invest the resources we have. However, we believe in time we would look for funding in order to expand.
B&B: What plans for the future? Do you plan to run it full-time?
AM & PJ: Expansion is already underway. Right now we’ve covered only Delhi and Karnataka. We intend on covering all the states very soon. We’re also looking forward to launching our mobile applications for Android, iOS and Windows devices.
If it so required, yes we would run it full-time. Having decided to venture out like this, we cannot take a step back now.
B&B: Any words of advice for law students who want to pursue similar endeavours?
AM & PJ: We would say go for it. Lots of people have great ideas but what sets you apart is your capacity to see it through. Don’t limit yourself to just one thing. Law school offers so many different opportunities, yet sometimes it forces you to think in one particular way. Take the initiative to follow up on your ideas and you will be rewarded.
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