Roam HR targets gig economy; Updox adds new product to its lineup.

Launch Pad: RoamHR

Company: Vaultz Inc.

Product: RoamHR app

CEO: Rick Gonzalez

Partners: Matt Armstead, executive director at Fintech 71 and partner at Horizon Two Labs; Ken Andrulis, vice president with Mastercard; others (Fintech 71, Horizon Two Labs and Mastercard are not affiliated with Vaultz.)

Funding: $50,000 development expenses internally funded to date

With the gig economy forecast to more than double to 54 million of the nation’s 150 million tax filers by 2021, helping 1099 workers handle their taxes is a huge opportunity.

Columbus-based Vaultz Inc. is racing to capture that market. With a deep background in financial technology dating to his days working on remote deposits at Austin, Texas-based USAA, founding CEO Rick Gonzalez left his job as a digital business strategist at Huntington National Bank earlier this year to launch the new company.

Vaultz is developing an app called RoamHR that calculates and dynamically recalculates a user’s tax burden as the year progresses. It then deposits the funds into a savings account it sets up for that purpose and sends them to the IRS.

The idea is to bring the convenience of an HR department and automatic tax deductions to the 1099 experience. “In the case of the gig economy, there’s nobody there taking care of you,” Gonzalez said. “The problem for 1099 workers is a lot of times they have no idea what they’re getting paid, and a lot of times they have multiple people that pay them. They have no idea what to take out for taxes.”

Gonzalez, a software developer, has taken the app through 28 builds and has been beta testing it since August. The company is in talks with large banks and is looking to enter into a relationship with a tax-filing partner, he says.

RoamHR will go to market this tax filing season with a $7.99 monthly fee for users. But its potential to generate revenue on deposits is where the real money lies. For every 1 percent of the 54 million-person marketplace RoamHR engages, it could collect $300 million in deposits. Banks would pay it a percentage of that. RoamHR plans to quickly add other human resources-type functions for users.

Will RoamHR achieve startup success?

Potential user — Michelle Garrett, Founder, Garrett Public Relations: “As a long-time freelance professional, I could see RoamHR being helpful to those who are self-employed. I’ve heard multiple stories of freelancers being caught off guard by the quarterly taxes—they had no idea that they had to pay them or how much they should be paying. That can cause real financial hardship, if you’ve earned a lot but failed to set aside any of your income to pay your taxes.”

Potential investor — Bob Fisher, CEO at Fisher Advisors & angel investor: "Vaultz accurately identifies the growth of non-conventional jobs, many of which are 1099-based. Unlike employees, contractors must calculate their own payroll taxes so the Vaultz app should be well-received. Because of the high cost of acquiring consumer customers, Vaultz may be better served by selling directly to banks, fintech and other adjacent-space companies who possess an existing base of customers."

Industry expert – Kevin Pohmer, CEO of IXN Tech and fintech entrepreneur/investor: "The key to their success will be distribution and adoption of their app. I believe financial institutions (banks and credit unions) will be keen to work with a technology partner that can bring them cash deposits, but they will need to prove that they can get the 1099 worker to adopt their technology to assist them with their tax burdens.”

Updox Adds New Product

Dublin-based Updox has launched a text messaging product that connects doctors with patients and with their healthcare colleagues.

The product allows healthcare workers to get immediate answers, said Updox CEO Michael Morgan in a release. “If they need a question answered internally, they stop again to track someone down or leave a reminder note. It’s the epitome of frustration.”

Secure Text and Messenger uses encryption methods compliant with the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, allowing patients and healthcare providers to exchange images, videos and text electronically.

The new product works within Updox’s existing suite of digital tools for healthcare professionals, including appointment scheduling and reminders, forms, payments and secure email. Updox is on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies.