Shannon appears in the Top 100
Innovators & Entrepreneurs magazine
Many small business owners don’t know about the billions of dollars in unclaimed tax credits and incentives available to them. But Shannon Scott does. He’s considered one of the premier tax credit experts in the industry, having helped over 25,000 companies, and he’s consulted for some of the most successful firms in the country. Today, as the founder and CEO of OnCentive, Shannon leads a thriving company considered “the Robin Hood of the business world.” A fitting nickname for a firm that just nine months into its inaugural year has captured over $1.5 billion for their clients. Founded in June 2021, OnCentive simplifies the process of identifying and qualifying for business incentives and tax credits to help business owners maximize profitability and grow their enterprises. “We’re passionate about putting money back in the hands of the small businesses that drive the economy,” Shannon explains.
That passion has driven Shannon for over 20 years—from his early days as a CEO at just 19 and through a remarkable career as the owner of multiple successful companies, three of which received the Inc. 500 Award. Now Shannon brings together his finance knowledge and IT background to drive OnCentive’s innovative software vision that is helping small businesses from Main Street to Manhattan excel.
We sat down with Shannon to learn more about the inspiration behind OnCentive and how they’re helping businesses flourish, even in the most challenging times.
What compelled you to start OnCentive?
I got into this business in 2007 because the first credit I learned about was one that helps veterans find jobs. My father was a Vietnam vet who struggled to find a job when he returned home, and one of these credits could have helped him, so it was my heart that first led me to this field. Prior to launching OnCentive, I’d owned a similar company that I had sold, and I’d acquired a few companies over the next two years while I was considering my next move. Then COVID hit, and my heart felt just as heavy. As I saw these businesses struggle and fold, I knew this was what I needed to do. I founded OnCentive with a bigger technology approach, focusing on the software component of it rather than a manual approach, which allows us to identify significantly more credits and incentives that can help small businesses.
How does your software and your funding model help small businesses?
There are over 3,000 types of incentive programs in the U.S. that many people aren’t educated on, and we’re here to help them. Our software allows us to match clients with the perfect credit and to assist small businesses who might not otherwise have the resources to take advantage of them. Right now, we’re focusing on COVID-related incentives, which can be out of reach for small companies without finance teams. One of our clients, a family-owned business, called me crying with relief and gratitude. They were days away from losing their business during COVID, and they got their recovery check and saved the businesses and all their employees. It was a very inspiring call.
We also partner with small financial consulting and CPA firms so that they can also help their clients using our expertise and IT. We also provide a funding source for our clients that allows them to borrow a portion of their pending incentive or credit, and an alternative funding source to give them 50-70% of their pending refund in a matter of days.
Will you share some of the ways in which businesses can benefit from these incentives and credits?
When a client comes to us, we learn about their business, look at what’s available, and come up with a plan and the most lucrative program for them. Sometimes these credits can be kind of like a bank; you can put them in a savings account. The credits that we typically find are income tax credits, but many times we find more credits that the business can carry forward for 20 years, which they can include as part of the value of their company or use the money to expand, and, for some, these credits can also help them personally. For example, we helped a company in Louisiana obtain a disaster relief credit after a hurricane, and they used the money to buy out a competitor and expand.
What do you enjoy most about your work, Shannon?
I have the best job in the world. I get to give away money for free, and many of these programs are based on companies creating jobs for people with higher barriers to employment. Seeing clients get credit for hiring struggling people is so rewarding. People send us letters and emails all the time thanking us; it’s very inspiring.
Co-Founder & CEO — OnCentive