Success Story

Penn State Student Startup Saveware Innovates Tax Refunds with AI

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. Penn State student startup Saveware is using artificial intelligence (AI) to automate the sales tax refund process for businesses and tax firms. 

Saveware was founded by Braeden Davidson, a sophomore in the Smeal College of Business, and Ryan Jai Hokimi, a junior in the College of Engineering. 

“We can retroactively go through past invoices and use our algorithms to determine where clients overpaid,” Davidson said. “We then produce a refund claim that we ultimately will submit to the Department of Revenue.”  

Last summer, Davidson interned at a firm that specializes in sales tax refunds. As he manually searched for overpayments from clients, he realized that the process was incredibly outdated.  

“I would be dealing with stacks of paper up to my head,” Davidson said. “I realized, it’s 2023, do I really need to be going through this paper one by one?” 

Davidson came back to Penn State with hopes of digitizing the process but needed help creating the AI model. He reached out to the Nittany AI Student Society, and met Hokimi, the current president, and the right person to create Saveware’s programming.  

“At first, Ryan tried to connect me with other people in the club, but then he ultimately decided that he was the right person for the job. He’s been a great partner ever since,” Davidson said. 

Now, Saveware is one of six teams selected for Invent Penn State’s Summer Founders Program, a thirteen-week program which gives entrepreneurs a $15,000 grant to work full-time on their startups over the summer. 

Saveware previously participated in the MVP DevLab at Happy Valley LaunchBox powered by PNC Bank, as well as various pitch competitions, including the Happy Valley Venture Capital pitch competition, where they won $5,000; the Mont Alto LaunchBox LION Tank pitch competition; and the Invent Penn State Inc.U Competition, where they won $15,000, the largest prize amount.  

Davidson said that the Penn State entrepreneurial ecosystem has given them a strong network of people holding them accountable and advocating for their success, which has become a great motivator for Saveware.  

“We don’t want to let these people down. We realized that there’s a big responsibility placed on us, being one of the six teams selected into the Summer Founders Program. We must take this seriously, show up and work hard,” Davidson said. 

Saveware currently has three paying clients, all restaurants in the Harrisburg area. Clients can connect and start working with Saveware for free – once the startup successfully gets a tax refund for a client, Saveware takes a percentage of the savings. 

The Saveware team is looking forward to growing their client base with this strategy through the Summer Founders Program.  

“Elizabeth Hay, Jason Huber, these people have been so impactful. The entire ecosystem of Happy Valley LaunchBox and Invent Penn State fosters innovation and helps us accelerate everything,” Davidson said. “They’re called accelerator programs for a reason. If it weren’t for our relationship with the Penn State entrepreneurial ecosystem, we would not be where we are today.” 

About Invent Penn State   

Invent Penn State is a commonwealth-wide initiative to spur economic development, job creation and student career success. Invent Penn State blends entrepreneurship-focused academic programs, business startup training and incubation, funding for commercialization, and university/community/industry collaborations to facilitate the challenging process of turning research discoveries into valuable products and services that can benefit Pennsylvanians and humankind.    

This project was financed in part by a grant from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of Community & Economic Development.