LexStart’s Upcoming Events

LexStart upcoming events on Convertible Notes, investment term sheets & Key Compliances for Stakeholders

  1. July 26, 2019: Master Class on Convertible Notes (Webinar)

Timing: 4 p.m to 5.30 p.m.

Join LexStart for a detailed analysis of Convertible Notes as instruments for fundraising. This Master Class on Convertible Notes will answer the following questions:

  • What is a Convertible Note?
  • How is it different from CCDs and CCPS?
  • How does valuation work in a Convertible Note? How do the concepts of floor and cap work?
  • Is Convertible Note the right instrument for you?

Convertible Notes are a relatively new instrument in the Indian startup ecosystem and this Master Class will help both startups and investors understand how these instruments work. Convertible Notes are a cheaper and faster route of fundraising available to registered startups and this Master Class will help startups understand how to use them.

Click here to register 

 

 

  1. July 30, 2019: Term Sheets 101 (Webinar)

Timing: 4.30 p.m to 5.30 p.m.

Join LexStart for a detailed discussion on investment term sheets, which will help you:

  • Understand fundraising jargon typically used in investment term sheets and how to negotiate them
  • Learn more about different investor rights like pre-emptive rights, tag rights, drag rights and liquidation preference typically found in investment term sheets
  • Learn more about company/promoter obligations typically included in investment term sheets

 Click here to register 

 

 

  1. July 31, 2019: Corporate Governance – Key Compliances for Stakeholders (Webinar)

Timing: 4 p.m to 5 p.m.

Join LexStart for a detailed discussion on the key compliances that stakeholders in startups should be aware of. In this session, we will cover the following:

  • Thinking of taking a Board seat? Understand the Director obligations & liabilities
  • Running a startup? Understand important corporate compliances
  • Investing in a company, or fundraising from a VC? Understand the compliances involved

Click here to register 

LexGyaan Series on ESOPs – Part 1: How do Employee Stock Options Plan (ESOPs) work?

CREATING AN ESOP POLICY

In our experience of having assisted several entrepreneurs with execution of ESOPs for their startups, we have observed that most entrepreneurs are under the impression that by just mentioning the number of ESOPs on their cap table, or in offer letters to their employees, the startup has fulfilled its obligation to grant ESOPs to its employees. This is actually incorrect.

Mentioning ESOP pool on your cap table actually just makes your investors happy. Why? Well when an investor invests in your startup, they want to ensure that they do not get diluted for any reason except in case of future rounds of fundraising by your startup (even for that they have the right to maintain valuation aka pre-emptive right). It is important for investors that their shareholding does not get diluted in order to give shares to your employees, mentors or all those well-wishers of yours, whose help and guidance you took in the initial days of starting up and promised equity to. Only you the founder should get diluted to give these promised equity shares to your mentors and advisors, not the investors. This is the reason why investors require a startup to create an ESOP pool/advisory stock option pool, as a condition precedent to their investment in a startup. This is also the reason why investors require you to convert all loans from friends and family, and conversion of convertible notes, if any.

Related reading: Understand how valuations work and how a founder’s shareholding gets diluted when an investor invests in a startup in our blog titled ” The Valuation Game.. What Does It Mean Exactly? , by our co-founder, Karthik Chandrasekar.  

Therefore, all you have achieved by mentioning a “ESOP Pool” on your cap table and inserting a number against it is (a) carving out the maximum number / percentage up to which your investors won’t get diluted, and (b) demonstrating to your investors, your intention to give ESOPs some day to your employees.

At this stage, where your startup’s ESOPs are only on the cap table, your ESOPs are only a virtual pool. How do you convert the ESOPs in to reality? Well, that’s easy, you will just have to create an actual ESOP pool. In order to do that, you will have to take the following steps:

Step 1

Draft an ESOP Policy in compliance with the Indian Companies Act, 2013. The ESOP Policy will have to set out in detail the terms of ESOPs, cliff period, vesting schedule, exercise price/strike price, exercise period, consequences of employee leaving the startup, consequences of the startup getting acquired, etc.

Sign up here to request a free Demo

Step 2

Once the draft ESOP policy has been finalized and if you have investors in your startup, then check your Shareholders’ Agreement and Articles of Association, to verify if the approval of investors for a ESOP policy will be required. Lost? Well, just look for a clause that is titled either as “reserved matter right” or “affirmative voting matter” or  “affirmative voting right” or “investor protection matter”. Once you find this clause, then look through the several items and check if creating a stock option, ESOP etc is listed therein. If it is, then you would have to send an email to your investor alongwith copy of the ESOP policy for your startup, requesting the investor for its approval to the ESOP policy.

LexGyaan: Most VCs get their respective legal team to also review the ESOP policy. Therefore, be prepared for few iterations and discussions.

 Step 3

Where you don’t have any investors in your startup, you can skip step 2 and directly proceed with step 3, i.e., convene a Board Meeting for approval of the ESOP Policy. How to convene a board meeting properly under Companies Act, 2013?

Step 4

Convene a meeting of Shareholders (aka EGM) of your startup, for approval of the ESOP Policy.

Now you have an ESOP policy and can formally start granting ESOPs. Click here to download a free template of a ESOP grant letter!

Click here to read FAQs on ESOPs.

LexStart makes ESOP creation a breeze. Click here to learn more. Request a Demo.

 

LexStart’s LexGyaan Series: Can I grant ESOPs to a Co-Founder?

Granting ESOPs to Promoters/Co-Founders

I often get asked this question – “Can I grant ESOPs to a Co-Founder who I recently brought on board my Startup?”. Well the answer is both yes and no!

The Companies Act, 2013 prohibits grant of ESOPs to the Promoter of a company. The term “Promoter” does not necessarily refer to only a person who is named as a Promoter at the time of incorporation of the company. A Promoter is defined broadly and includes, the following:

  • Any person who has been named as such in a prospectus or is identified by the company in its annual return; or
  • Any person who has control over the affairs of the company, directly or indirectly whether as a shareholder, director or otherwise; or
  • Any person in accordance with whose advice, directions or instructions the Board of Directors of the company is accustomed to act. Provided that such person is not someone who is acting merely in a professional capacity.

Therefore, typically a Co-Founder who you bring on board at a later stage, may not be a Promoter as stated in the Charter Documents (Memorandum and Articles of Association of your Startup) but still can be considered a “Promoter”, thus restricting him from receiving ESOPs in the company.

ESOPs to Promoters/Co-Founders of recognized Startups

The Companies Act, 2013 has made an exception to the above rule, by allowing Startups that are recognized by Govt. of India to grant ESOPs to founders, as long as the grant of such ESOPs is within 5 years from their incorporation. This means if your Startup has a Certificate of Recognition from DPIT, Govt. of India, then you can grant ESOPs to Promoters/Co-founders.

Related Readings : How to Get Startup India Registration

FAQs on ESOPs

 

Issue of Shares with Differential Voting Rights

What is Differential Voting Rights?

Shares with Differential Voting Rights (DVRs) means shares that give the holder differential rights as to voting (either more or less voting right) as against the Ordinary shareholders of the company.

Types of DVR    

  • Shares that have superior voting rights
  • Shares that have inferior voting rights

Eligibility/Condition for issue of shares with DVR*

  • AOA of the Company should authorize issue of DVR;
  • Consistent track record of distributable profits for the last three years;
  • No default in filing annual return for last 3 Financial Years;
  • No default in payment of declared dividend or repayment of deposit or loan borrowed;
  • the shares with differential rights shall not exceed twenty-six percent of the total post-issue paid up equity share capital;
  • No penalty by court or tribunal for any offense for the last 3 Financial Years; and
  • The shares issued with DVR cannot be changed later.

*This provisions shall not apply to private companies in case MOA and AOA of the company provide otherwise.

Procedure for issue of shares with differential voting rights

  • Check AOA of the Company;
  • Obtain valuation certificate from registered valuer;
  • Open a separate bank account;
  • The terms of issue of shares should be finalized;
  • Conduct board meeting for issue of shares with DVR;
  • In case issue of DVR affects the rights of existing class of shares then obtain consent from 3/4th of the shareholders of that class;
  • Filing form MGT-14 with ROC within 30 days of EGM;
  • Circulate offer letter along with the share application form to the investors;
  • Receive share application money along with the application form ;
  • Conduct board meeting for allotment of shares;
  • File form PAS-3 within 15 days of allotment of shares;
  • Pay stamp duty and issue share certificates; and
  • Make entry in register of members.

Difference between DVR shares and Ordinary Shares

DVR shares
  • Provide few or higher voting right to shareholders.
  • Rate of dividend is low or higher.
  • DVR shares are ideal for small shareholders or promoters.
  • Issued at a discount in comparison with ordinary shares.
Ordinary Shares
  • One share One Vote.
  • Rate of dividend is fixed for class of shareholders.
  • Ideal for large shareholders.
  • Issue at FMV.

Advantages of Issuing shares with DVR

From Issuer Perspective
  • To raise more capital without diluting its ownership structure.
  • Get control in decision making process.
  • A tool to avoid hostile take over.
  • To fund large Project.
From Investor Perspective
  • Benefit to investors since share are issued at discount & also for incremental dividend.
  • Better for investors who are looking for good quick return rather than voting rights.
  • Institutional Investors can invest in private companies without any limit and making it a subsidiary.

Dis-advantages of DVR

From companies Perspective
  • Lack of investor awareness about such issue of shares.
  • Issue shares at discount.
  • Minority shareholders can lose faith in the Company.
From investor Perspective
  • Lack of investor awareness about such issue of shares.
  • Possible misuse of voting power
  • by the promoters & hence act
  • against the interest of the shareholders.
  • Lack of liquidity may hamper return.
  • Not beneficial for Institutional
  • Investors as they are
  • interested in voting rights and long term capital gains both.

Case of Tata Motors

  • In 2008, issued DVR shares.
  • It was the first company in India to issue DVR shares and amongst the very few in Asia.
  • Issued at Rs 305 a share which was about 10% lower than the issue of normal rights at Rs.340.
  • Will offer 5% of more dividends.
  • Gives an additional 10.3% discount.
  • But carry one-tenth the voting rights of ordinary shares. This means 10 DVR shares = 1 ordinary share as far as voting rights is concerned.

Amazon caps voting rights in Witzig Advisory Services at 17%

  • Amazon has bought 17% stake in the company through Class A shares and the rest 32% through Class B shares having differential voting rights (DVR).
  • Each Class A share shall have one vote, while the Class B shares shall not carry any voting rights. This effectively caps Amazon’s voting rights in Witzig at 17%.
  • Amazon appears to have made use of DVR shares to comply with the new ecommerce FDI norms that came into force from February 1, and also to ensure that More can continue selling on its Indian marketplace.
  • The new ecommerce FDI guidelines had forced Amazon to reduce its stake from 49% to 24% in Cloudtail and Appario, the two top sellers on its marketplace. The American etailer had also evaluated the idea of limiting its holding in Witzig to less than 26%, and not acquiring 49% in the company as was originally planned.
  • By capping its voting rights in Witzig at less than 17%, Amazon will be able to continue with More as a seller. Samara Capital will hold 51% in Witzig, making the latter an Indian owned-and-controlled company.

Conclusion

  • For an investor, who wants to be in the company’s decision processes, DVR  shares is not an attractive proposition due to limited voting rights.
  • But if an investor isn’t concerned much with voting rights, then investing in the DVR would certainly be an attractive option.

Convertible Note – Cheat Sheet !

Planning for fundraising and considering a Convertible Note? Here is a cheat sheet for you:

  1. Check if Convertible Note is the right instrument for you. Click Here to do a quick check!
  2. Well, if you are convinced that Convertible Note is the right instrument for fundraising for your startup, continue reading:
  3. Register with Startup India from DPIT.  Read more here
  4. Draft a Convertible Note Agreement. Purchase LexStart’s Convertible Note Primer to get a template. Purchase Now
  5. Draft a Convertible Note certificate.
  6. If the Articles of Association do not allow the Board to borrow money, amend the Articles of Association to give the Board the power to borrow by passing board and shareholders resolution.
  7. Draft a board resolution for approving Convertible Note.
  8. Draft a shareholders’ resolution for approving Convertible Note.
  9. Convene a Board Meeting for approving issuance of Convertible Note.
  10. Convene a Shareholders’ Meeting for approving issuance of Convertible Note.
  11. Stamp the Convertible Note Agreement.
  12. Procure signature of all Parties concerned on the Convertible Note Agreement.
  13. Upon receipt of investment amount, issue Convertible Note Certificate, duly stamped and executed.
  14. File Form MGT-14 within 30 days of Shareholders’ Meeting.
  15. File Form DPT-3 by 30th June of every year.

LexGyaan Startup Series

Series 1 – Co-Founders’ Agreement and other legalities when starting up

Have an idea? Thinking of Starting Up? Or just testing the waters? You might be reaching out to consultants, developers, manufacturers etc. to improve upon your idea. Have you ensured that your idea is protected and you are not losing ownership of your idea or your brand for that matter? Further, as your founding team comes together, it is important to put down expectations on contribution and ownership in a Co-Founder’s Agreement. You then need to decide what kind of entity you want to house your team in. Its also important you take certain precautions. What if the idea materializes into something big? You don’t want to regret not having your developer bound by obligations to hand over the cool product that you conceptualized! This workshop helps you navigate each of these crucial decisions.

This workshop will cover the key issues an entrepreneur needs to tackle at the very outset, including:

– Co-Founders’ Agreement

– NDAs

– Hiring a web developer

– Deciding on incorporating an entity for the business,

– When to quit your current job

– Protecting your idea and your brand through trademark

Coming up:
Series 2: Starting Up
Once you have decided to proceed with you startup idea? What next? Just setting up an entity is not enough. There is hiring to do, NDAs to be signed, IP to be protected, and so on. In this second workshop in the LexStart Startup series, we will be discussing:
– Legal Cheat Sheet – Basic compliances required under the law

– Startup India – How to register? What are the benefits?

–  Hiring: HR agreements, policies and processes,

– Terms of Service and Privacy Policy

– Protecting your intellectual property

Series 3: Legalities of Structuring Incentive Plan for Employees and Advisors

 

ESOPs, Advisor Equity, Mentor Stock, these are the terms you hear a lot these days. But do you understand how each one of these work?In our third workshop of the LexStart Startup Series, we will be discussing legalities of Structuring Incentive Plan for Employees, Advisors and Mentors, including:– What exactly do each of these terms mean – ESOP, Advisory Equity, Mentor Stock

– How do they work and answer questions like – Does the employee have to pay money? Can they get shares upfront? What happens if they leave the company?

– Most commonly used structures, mechanisms and terms

– Tax consequences

Series 4: Fundraising for your Startup
In the last and most important workshop of the LexStart series, we will be discussing the various nuances of the fundraising process, including:

– Overview of process of fundraise

– Structures for fundraise – Convertible Note, Loan, Equity, CCPS!

– Term sheet and the various terms of investment – how to effectively handle negotiations with investors

– Due diligence – what does it mean and what does the process entail

– Share purchase agreement, share subscription agreement, Shareholders’ agreement – understanding the various documents

– What all do you need to do to get money in bank!

Disclosure of Significant Beneficial Ownership

The Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) on June 13, 2018 notified Section 90 of the Companies Act, 2013 (Act); and notified Companies (Significant Beneficial Owners) Rules 2013. This rule came into effect on June 14, 2018. These provisions require certain compliances to be followed by a Significant Beneficial Owner and a company.

Who is a “Significant Beneficial Owner”?

“Significant Beneficial Owner” means an individual who acting alone or together, or through one or more persons or trust, including a trust and persons resident outside India, holds ultimate beneficial interest of not less than 10% in shares of a company or the right to exercise, or the actual exercising of significant influence or control in a company.

This applies to the (i) individual who is acting alone or together with one or more persons (includes partnerships) (ii) includes a trust (iii) person resident in India or outside India.

 Sr. No. Where Shareholder of a company is a Who is Significant Beneficial Owner?
A. Company Significant Beneficial Owner is the natural person, who, whether acting alone or together with other natural persons, or through one or more other persons or trust holds atleast 10% of share capital of the Company or exercise significant influence or control in the company.
B. Partnership Firm Significant Beneficial Owner is the natural person, who, whether acting alone or together with other natural persons, or through one or more other persons or trust holds atleast 10% of capital or is entitled of not less than 10% of profits of the partnership firm.
C. Trust The Significant Beneficial Owner shall be- the author of the trust, and the trustee and the beneficiaries with not less than 10% interest in the trust and any other natural person exercising ultimate effective control over the trust through a chain of control or ownership.

Where no natural person is identified in point no. A and B in the table above, the Significant Beneficial Owner is the relevant natural person who holds the position of senior managing official.

What is the obligation of Significant Beneficial Owner?

  • Every existing Significant Beneficial Owner is obligated to file a declaration in Form No. BEN-1 with the respective company. This declaration is to be made by September 10, 2018.
  • Every Significant Beneficial Owner shall file any change in his significant beneficial ownership within 30 days to the company.
  • Every individual, who acquires significant beneficial ownership in a Company, shall file a declaration in Form No.BEN-1 to the Company within 30 days of acquiring such significant beneficial ownership.

What are the obligations of the Company?

  • The company receiving the declaration has to maintain a register of Significant Beneficial Owners.
  • The company has to file a return in Form No. BEN-2of significant beneficial owners of the company and changes therein with the Registrar within 30 days from the date of receipt of the declaration.
  • Maintain a register of significant beneficial owner in Form No. BEN – 3.
  • Also, if the Company knows or has reason to believe that someone is s Significant Beneficial Owner (or has been a Significant Beneficial Owner in last 3 years) and is not registered with the company as a Significant Beneficial Owner then, the company is required to give notice to such person seeking information in Form No.BEN-4.

Consequences of non-disclosure by Significant Beneficial Owner

  • Shares may be made subject to the restriction on transfer.
  • All rights in shares held by such Significant Beneficial Owner shall be suspended, including, voting rights, dividend etc.
  • The MCA may impose penalty of up to INR 1,00,000/- and INR 1,000 per day the default continues.
  • Such Significant Beneficial Owner can be charged with fraud under Section 447 of Companies Act, 2013.

Consequences of non-compliance by a company?

Fine ranging from INR 10,00,000/- to INR 50,00,000/- for company and INR 1,000 per day the default continues.

Who is exempted from definition of Significant Beneficial Owner?

  • Mutual Funds;
  • Alterative Investment Funds (AIFs); and
  • Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and Infrastructure Investment Trusts (lnvlTs).

Startup India Series: Raising money from Angel Investors: How to take money from friends and family ? (Part 3) (Raising money by issuance of convertible instruments)

Euro exchange rate. Neon style illustration. Convert, income, transfer. Currency banner. For finance, banking, business concept

In the previous parts of this series, we gave you pointers on raising funds by way of debt and by issuance of shares. In this part we see the route startups can take in case they want to draw investors with promises of an assured annualised return while also giving them the upside of the appreciation of the share price of the startup. Convertible instruments provide both these comforts.

Convertible instruments include compulsorily convertible debentures (“CCD’s”) and convertible notes (Click here for our detailed post on convertible notes) and are a bit more sophisticated than regular debt and equity. The money raised through both these instruments will be treated as debt on the books of the company and within a certain period these instruments will convert into shares of the company. These instruments can also be interest bearing, in which case the company will also end up making a certain interest payment on the dent every year, while at the end of the tenure of the instrument the principal will convert into shares of the company.

These instruments are an extremely lucrative investment for investors. Consider this: The instrument convert within a 5 year period, which is a long duration in the life of a startup and during which time the valuation may have skyrocketed. In case you had agreed to a 1:1 conversion ratio 5 years back on an INR 1000/- loan, when the value of a share of the company was INR 10/- and after 5 years the price of the shares has skyrocketed to INR 100/-, the investor makes a 10x return on his investment.

With a convertible instruments there come in concepts like “discount at the time of conversion” i.e. when the conversion happens at a discount to the future valuation of the company e.g. My convertible note will convert 5 years later. I have invested INR 1000 /- today and I will be getting shares worth the same amount. However, considering that I am taking a risk, I will get a 30% (Thirty percent) discount on whatever the valuation of the company may be after 5 years. Therefore after 5 years if the price of the shares of the company is INR 100/-, my conversion will be made considering assuming the price of the shares to be INR 70/-. These concepts are fairly complicated, can have tax implications and it is always recommended, that you seek professional advice before issuing these instruments.

While CCDs have existed for some time, convertible notes are a fairly new phenomenon which we have adopted from the western market. Convertible notes in India come with some simple principles of issuance:

  1. They can be issued only by Startups recognized by DIPP;
  2. The amount of investment will have to be atleast INR 25 lakhs in a single tranche;
  3. The amount will have to be converted within 5 years; and
  4. The terms of conversion will have to be determined upfront.

Things to look out for: Terms of conversion: Considering that these instruments convert at a later date and the terms of conversion have to be fixed upfront, it is key to ensure that you do not give away a large chunk of equity as a result of conversion. Conversion is determined by a formula (which factors in revenue, profits etc.) or on the basis of a ratio e.g. 1:1; where each CCD converts into an equity share of the company. Also, institutional or professional investors are wary of any existing instruments in the Company which will convert at a later date and can possibly dilute them.

With the Startup India series we plan to answer the ten most commonly asked common legal questions which we get asked.

At LexStart we advise startups at various stages of growth on disclosure related compliances and non-disclosure arrangements. You can reach out to [email protected] with any specific queries that you may have.


Disclaimer: Please note that the article above is for information purposes only and represents the views of the author and should not be construed as legal advice.

Startup India Series: Raising money from Angel Investors: How to take money from friends and family ? (Part 2) (Raising money by issuance of equity shares)

Fundraising 2 (1)

In Part 1 of this series we looked at debt as a means of raising money for a startup.

In Part 2 we look at raising money through issuance of equity shares.

A company can raise money by issuing shares to existing shareholders or new investors, and this process is fairly simple as long as all investors are Indian residents.

Pros: Since the investment is being made in the shares of your company and is not being provided as a personal debt to you or as a loan to your company, there is no question of returning the investment at a later date and in most cases there is no requirement to provide dividends.

Cons: With third party capital you are bound to give up certain amount of control (Term Sheet), and always remember that the third party investor is looking for an exit, whether it is short term or long term. You should be very careful while negotiating exit clauses and try to avoid any form of excruciating promoter buybacks, where the promoter will end up having to buy back the shares of the investors mandatorily after a certain time period (and usually at a certain profit margin) in case they fail to provide an exit.

The biggest challenge when raising equity capital in the early stage is valuation. How do you agree how much dilution is ok? Wondering what we are talking about? Read our blog on the Valuation Game and how it affects your shareholding as a promoter in your startup.

Compliance check: While issuing shares always ensure that you obtain a valuation report for the shares from a merchant banker and do not undervalue them during issuance, since there can be severe tax implications in case you decide to issue shares at a price lower or higher (in case of angel investors) than the fair value.

Things to look out for: Do think about the dilution that the founding team will be facing. Considering that at an early stage the valuation of the company will be quite low, you may end up becoming a minority shareholder in your own company in case you raise too much money through the equity route at early stages. Also have a shareholders agreement in place which clearly identifies the rights of each party and ensures that there is no room for confusion at a later date. Equity investment in a private company can be uncharted territory for friends and family and make sure that you educate them on the risks involved prior to the investment.

With the Startup India series we plan to answer the ten most commonly asked common legal questions which we get asked. In the next part we answer “Raising money by issuing convertible instruments”

At LexStart we advise startups at various stages of growth on disclosure related compliances and non-disclosure arrangements. You can reach out to [email protected] with any specific queries that you may have.


Disclaimer: Please note that the article above is for information purposes only and represents the views of the author and should not be construed as legal advice.