Interview

A portrait of the fynax duo

Fatih-Kağan Taşkoparan

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Nadja Müller and Saravanan Sundaram are not only the brains behind fynax, but also the voices and faces of our podcast "Thanks for Shopping" (prod. by Podstars by OMR). In an interview, they told us where our management duo come from, how they understand e-commerce and why they stand out in the industry with fynax and their personal approach.


Saravanan and Nadja, where are you from and what did you do before you joined fynax?

Saravanan Sundaram (S): "Before I immersed myself in the e-commerce cosmos of fynax, I spent seven years in retail and then in the start-up world. Back then, we were just starting to test our products online. At that time, you could only buy books on Amazon, for example. We did try to sell our underwear online, but interestingly, when people paid online, they still had to drive to our store to pick up their purchases - online retail was still in its infancy. Based on my experience in retail and the start-up scene, an old colleague asked me to get in touch with the ETL Group's Management Board. The position for the newly created online retail brand fynax was a perfect fit."

Nadja Müller (M): "I have a very classic CV: I studied business and environmental law, then went into auditing and finally slipped into tax consultancy - more by chance really. I went through many different stages before that: I studied in Trier, then worked in Koblenz, Düsseldorf and finally Berlin. I had my first real contact with e-commerce during my time at an online furniture store, where I was responsible for all things tax. I also ran a seminar on e-commerce and taxes as a speaker for the NWB publishing house. Due to the program booklets that we published as part of the seminar, Mr. Müller, CEO of ETL, became aware of me and contacted me for the management position of the newly created fynax team."

What makes the e-commerce sector so exciting?

M: "A few years ago, the whole topic was simply super new and something of a green playground, especially from a tax consultancy perspective: Many things had not yet been decided, you constantly came up against legal regulations that were not designed for online trading. This is what makes the transfer process so exciting to this day. It also has to be said that the industry is very fast-moving, modern and digital. Marginal issues such as data security and data protection - in other words, the entire infrastructure - make the e-commerce cosmos very interesting for tax consultants. You never really know what trend will come next. If you look at this whole background, e-commerce is about much more than just buying and selling."

S"We are the generation before the internet. We spent our childhood without smartphones. We are basically the Nintendo and Sega console generation. Then suddenly the Amiga computer, the most advanced PC at the time, came onto the market. And I think that from today's perspective, we can therefore understand very well how rapid this development was at the time: when the Internet arrived in the early 1990s, there was no Google, just Alta Vista. Online marketplaces such as "ebay" and "Amazon" only gradually emerged in the middle of the decade. Amazon is now one of the market leaders in online retail, but initially only sold books. Zalando also started with shoes and is now a listed German online mail order company - not just for shoes, but also for clothing and cosmetics. They all understood early on how far-reaching the demand is and how great the potential is.

What continues to be exciting about the industry is that you get to know the people in e-commerce and see what goes on behind the scenes and how quickly and agilely the industry is developing and growing. Of course, the coronavirus pandemic has also given a real boost to the fact that people are buying and consuming even more online. I also believe that there is no end in sight. There are so many more topics in the e-commerce sector! We hear this all the time in our "Thanks for Shopping" podcast. E-commerce is much more than just selling and buying products online, as Nadja said. There are far more topics and I don't think many people are even aware of that yet."

What characterizes your collaboration at fynax?

S"What I can definitely say is that we really have a lot of fun. We travel a lot with the team to trade fairs and events and perform together on stage. We laugh a lot and enjoy our work. That's also what sets us apart. When we work together with the heads of the law firms and communicate with them, we realize that the focus is always on having fun at work and having fun developing ourselves further. We also see that they want to get involved - especially because the job is not monotonous in the end. Every mandate is so individual that ultimately every client becomes interesting for the law firms. The market is evolving and we have to evolve with it. E-commerce is also a very communicative industry. If you don't manage to be visible and communicate at eye level, then you've already lost the game. If we were standing at trade fairs in a suit and tie, for example, none of the online retailers would approach us. That's exactly why we created our podcast "Thanks for Shopping": in it, we talk about the future of e-commerce, market developments, new technologies - as well as taxes. We want to offer online retailers, companies and developers a platform and at the same time expand the network, find partners, get in touch with people directly and learn from them. As tax advisors, we need to understand their problems so that we can better address them."

M: "And in terms of the ETL Group as a whole, I think that we at fynax stand out a little. Just visually: as Saravanan said, we give interviews in hoodies or stand on stage and tell the audience something. We do some things differently to what the ETL is used to. Nevertheless, I believe that our success speaks for itself. At the end of the day, our appearance has to fit the industry - and we embody this zeitgeist."