IFIM Law School

Start-Up Legal Help Centre

Start-up from Inception to Reality

As with all entrepreneurial ideas a conducive atmosphere is not enough, we need to create a solid support system for them to become a reality. Several incubation centres have been working with start-ups from a business idea perspective. However, cash strapped, and idea-stage start-ups find it difficult to invest in expensive legal advice and rely on the various unreliable sources or function in ignorance, both of which are dangerous and can at times result in ill-afforded losses for the start-up. Legal and regulatory guidance is essential not only to avoid losses, or avoid facing fines, but also save the start-ups from a certain doom.

For instance, Shotpitch was an app-based start-up which offered an extension to crowdfunding by offering an online funding model. However, the Securities Exchange Board of India issued a notice stating that such platforms will be violating the laws on private placement of equity by operating like a stock exchange. Shotpitch had to close shop in the year 2016 due to this notice.

BlueGape started out as a poster printing company that would print the customer’s desired content on a poster and deliver it to their door. However, the company soon realised that they were exposing themselves to copyright violation. They then started acquiring content that they could then use for printing on posters, cups etc. This legal issue completely derailed the growth of the company. However, now it has now recouped its losses and is on the correct trajectory for success.

Zebpay was a crypto currency exchange to enable users to buy and sell Bitcoin and other crypto currencies, or purchase airtime and gift cards. Reserve Bank of India issued a circular restricting banks and regulated payments companies from extending any services to crypto exchanges and wallets. All the crypto currency exchanges have combined and approached the Supreme Court. The matter is currently pending. However, Zebpay had to close down its portal as funding from banking and financial institutes was not available for the company to continue.

A well-known company that created comedy content lost its standing after being exposed for not addressing the sexual harassment that a woman faced in their organisation. This company was called out on famous social media channels for not implementing the basic requirements of Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace, Act (2013). This ignorance of the law resulted in the stepping down of the CEO under a cloud of shame.

We at IFIM Law School believe that the entrepreneurial spirit of the nation needs to be nurtured and any assistance that can be offered to these start-ups will help not just the economy grow but help the society improve. Most incubators offer business and strategy advise. Any advice related to legal or regulatory issues is restricted to compliance requirements. From identifying the advantages of corporatisation vs. partnership, to identifying and protecting intellectual property to understanding the implications of an investor agreement, start-ups have to pay a premium price to procure the services of an experienced advocate.

IFIM Law School has formulated a 3 step approach to provide the requisite legal services for these embryonic entities.
1. Create Awareness of Law and Regulatory Matters
2. Provide a platform for legal services to provided
3. Provide a portal for common issues to be discussed and solutions to be provided. Details regarding the same can be found in the Plan of Action.

Plan of Action

In an effort to offer legal help or aid to the financially challenged start-ups and offer them insight into the law we at IFIM Law School are undertaking several activities. The first amongst the activities will be a workshop consisting of legal luminaries and success stories from the various start-ups across the country. This will be followed by a Legal Help Centre that will offer legal services to start-ups and assist them with various law related queries. We will also have a blog dedicated to offering insights into any developments in the field of law that affect start-ups.

Plan of Action -
a. Conduct a one-day workshop with industry experts to provide law-based insights to being complaint and utilising the law to the best advantage of a given start-up.
b. The Start-up Legal Help Clinic to offer legal services and advice as required by the start-ups.
c. Start-up Legal Help Blog this blog will be dedicated to updates and information in law that affect start-ups.

Start-ups – Demystifying the Law - A One day Workshop

About the one-day workshop

The workshop will be from a deep dive into the law that will enable start-ups or that start-ups need to be aware of before launching their activities. The workshop will be dedicated to creating not just awareness but to understanding the workings of the law. The approach will be practical and hands on. Participants will be encouraged to share their experiences and the various challenges that they faced. The idea is to demystify the law for the start-ups and make it simple and easy to understand

Proposed Subject Areas

a. Advantages and Disadvantages of Corporatisation.
b. Contractual Agreements: Foundation Documents
c. Intellectual Property Rights: Identify and Claim

This will be a one-day workshop that will also include the launch of the Start-up Legal Help Clinic.

Start-ups Legal Help Clinic

The Clinic will basically function as a law office. Any start-up can e-mail and request an appointment or ask for advice. Students who have received training and are a part of the Clinic will co-ordinate with various identified Advocate mentors to resolve the issue that the start-up has raised or offer services for the same. These services and recommendations will be given without any fees being charged.

Start-ups Legal Help Blog

IFIM Law School will create and maintain a blog that will be a reference point to all start-ups for any law related queries. Updates as to the law and regulations that affect start-ups will also be posted here. The blog will invite authors who are not just legal luminaries but have experience in the field. The blog will not be dispensing legal advice but will be demystifying the law for the start-ups.

As the Legal Help Centre develops and receives information and data it will be sharing its findings with key stakeholders within the industry and the government to initiate policy level changes to ensure that start-ups receive the required impetus to grow.

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