About Prosaic

Our story, mission and motivation.

Prosaic featured in NZ Herald

"The startup using AI to work out GST expenses for tax returns"

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Prosaic is an AI-powered tax tool for small business and accountants. We turn a painful but necessary task you  do every tax and GST return, into a magical moment✨, by automatically finding and calculating tax deductions from any personal bank, credit card, or mortgage account.

Earning money in business is hard work. At Prosaic, we believe keeping some of that money, by finding and claiming eligible tax deductions, shouldn't feel like hard work too.

Founder story.

Rowan Oulton, Vaughan Rowsell, and Nick Houldsworth in 2011
Vend team circa 2011

Prosaic founders Nick Houldsworth (LinkedIn) and Rowan Oulton (LinkedIn) met in 2011 at Vend, one of New Zealand's most successful software startups. Nick (left) was the first employee and marketing guy. Rowan (right) was the first front end developer.

Since then we've gone on to help build and scale a range of global software businesses including Slack and Xero, always with the purpose of finding innovative ways to improve the lives of people working in small businesses through technology.

A conversation with our accountant about AI.

A Xero user for over a decade, over coffee in late 2022, Nick's accountant expressed his frustration that despite advancements in cloud software, every tax return they still have to chase clients to manually complete out the same home office expenses spreadsheet.

Accountants hate chasing clients for numbers. Clients hate completing spreadsheets. Its a bad experience all round that leads to delays completing tax returns, missed deductions and late cashflow.

Chat GPT had launched only a month earlier,  so Nick took out his laptop and showed his accountant how he was thinking about solving this problem for himself -  entering a random selection of bank transactions into the chat window and asking GPT to organise it. The result was exactly the kind of magic we've come to expect of AI since late 2022.

When his accountant asked if this could work for any client, it was the lightbulb💡moment that sparked the beginning of Prosaic.

What we believe.

We've been relentlessly focused since on designing and building a beautifully simple solution to a critical pain point that is common to almost every single business owner and sole trader.

We believe there are two important trends that make it uniquely possible to solve this problem today.

  • Open banking enables consumers to authorise secure, seamless access to any personal financial data, such as bank accounts, credit card data or mortgage and loan accounts, which brings the magic of a service like Xero's bank feeds to a range of other innovations (like personal finance, mortgage applications, or tax management)
  • Generative AI, such as Chat GPT, represent a once-in-a-generation advancement in technology, with unparalleled ability to enhance and organise complex data sets. Regardless of how messy and unstructured your personal finances, AI perfectly suited to near automate tasks like helping you searching for tax deductions, in a matter of seconds.

However, we also believe that nothing replaces human trust and advice, especially when it comes to managing your business, finances and tax, which is why we've worked closely with accountants and small businesses from day one, to ensure that Prosaic:

  • Is designed for trusted relationships: Prosaic is designed to enhance the workflow between small business and trusted professionals such as accountants or book keepers. It can automatically find and suggest tax deductions, but the real power is in how seamless it makes the experience for business owners of sharing these with their accountant for verification and assurance, or for accountants, freeing up time to focus on advising to your clients, instead of chasing them for spreadsheets.
  • Is responsible with your data: with years of experience working on large business applications, our team has designed Prosaic to be safe, secure and responsible with your financial data, including external audits to meet security standards for our open banking provider Akahu

With unusual curiosity for the innovative ways technology can solve even the mundane tasks, and a successful track record in business software, our commitment to customers is that we are highly motivated make tax returns a little more magical, so you can spend time working on the things that motivate you instead.

If you want to find out for yourself, then give Prosaic a try. We'd love to hear what you think.