Sameer Rastogi, Managing Partner, India Juris and Chief Advisor, Venture Catalyst

IIFL | Mumbai | November 25, 2016 09:29 IST

"The government has made some radical changes and has taken very bold and progressive steps, which are expected to show the results in the coming fiscal year."

Sameer Rastogi, India Juris
Sameer Rastogi is the Managing Partner of India Juris, heading corporate and commercial practice with specialization in cross border transactions and M&A. He is globally trusted by large multinational companies, banks and FIIs for his expertise in joint ventures, foreign collaborations, India entry strategy, private equity investments, capital market advisory, F&O transactions, ESOPs, tax structuring, public offerings and infrastructure projects. He is also acclaimed for legal advisory on projects of renewal energy sectors.
 
Recently, Rastogi has joined the board of Venture Catalyst as Chief Advisor Delhi NCR. Venture Catalyst is a Mumbai based leading Angel fund which has recently entered Delhi NCR. Venture Catalysts’ latest expansion in Delhi will foray close on the heels of Venture Catalyst’s recent expansion into Surat, and underlines its mission to create a high-quality, end-to-end support and investment ecosystem across the country.
 
Belonging to a middle class family and a first generation lawyer in his family, Sameer Rastogi, is a law graduate from Bangalore University and also holds a Masters degree in Business Law from Lucknow University.
 
After few years of initial practice, he started India Juris in 2004 with a small office at home. Now the firm has spread over different cities such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore with further expansion plans in the offing. From the very beginning, the firm is dealing with international clients and large corporates pan India and globally. The firm has been regularly ranked as one of the leading firms.
 
Replying to Prasanth Menon of IIFL, Sameer Rastogi, Managing Partner, India Juris and Chief Advisor, Venture Catalyst, said that "The government has made some radical changes and has taken very bold and progressive steps, which are expected to show the results in coming fiscal year."
 
Sebi has reduced the minimum angel fund investment for venture capital undertakings to Rs 25 lakh from the current Rs 50 lakh. What will be the impact of this development?
The reduction of minimum angel fund investment from Rs 50 lakh to Rs 25 lakh will help more startups in getting seed funding from Angel Funds. Now Angel fund will also be able to fund those startups which require lesser investment at the seed funding stage.
 
What other modification are there for funding to those startups?
Other than the above modification, SEBI has announced various other amendments for startups in India and development of a Startup hub and Startup eco system. Following are the amendments that are announced:
  1. The upper limit for a number of angel investors in a scheme is increased from forty nine to two hundred.
  2. The definition of startup for Angel Funds investments be similar to definition of DIPP as given in their startup policy. Accordingly, Angel Funds will be allowed to invest in startups incorporated within five years, which was earlier 3 years.
  3. The lock in requirements of investment made by Angel Funds in the venture capital undertaking is reduced from three years to one year.
  4. Angel Funds are allowed to invest in overseas venture capital undertakings up to 25% of their investible corpus in line with other AIFs.
  5. The Foreign Portfolio Investors are now allowed to invest in the unlisted corporate debt securities and securitized debt instruments.

How effective is the existing guidelines and provisions under Alternative Investment Funds?
Prior to these amendments by SEBI, the Alternative Investment Funds (AIF) regulations 2012 were quite effectively structured and were very helpful for the Startup eco system in India, however with these amendments AIF regulations will be more useful and will help to strengthen the startups in India.
 
How successful has Startup India, a flagship initiative of the Government of India been?
The startup India Initiative have been very successful, so far more than 400 plus startups have been registered under Start up India Action plan. This programme has led to a wave among young entrepreneurs for creation of successful businesses and it has also led to creation of employment across the country.
 
Who all can avail the benefits under Startup India initiative? What are the key parameters to be fulfilled to gain benefits of this initiative?
The startups that are registered under Startup India Action Plan can avail the benefits under Startup Initiative scheme provided that they should:
  • be supported by a recommendation (with regard to innovative nature of business), in a format specified by DIPP, from an incubator established in a post-graduate college in India; or
  • be supported by an incubator which is funded (in relation to the project) from Government of India (GoI) as part of any specified scheme to promote innovation; or
  • be supported by a recommendation (with regard to innovative nature of business), in a format specified by DIPP, from an incubator recognized by GoI; or
  • be funded by an Incubation Fund/Angel Fund/ Private Equity Fund/ Accelerator/Angel Network duly registered with SEBI* that endorses innovative nature of the business; or
  • be funded by GoI as part of any specified scheme to promote innovation; or
  • have a patent granted by the Indian Patent and Trademark Office in areas affiliated with the nature of business being promoted.

For the purpose of availing benefits under Startup India Initiative the Start-up means,
  • An entity, incorporated or registered in India.
  • Not older than five years,
  • Annual turnover does not exceed Rs 25 crore in any preceding financial year,
  • Working towards innovation, development, deployment or commercialization of new products, processes or services driven by technology or intellectual property.

Except,
  • Such entity is not formed by splitting up, or reconstruction, of a business already in existence.
  • An entity shall cease to be a Start-up if its turnover for the previous financial years has exceeded Rs 25 crore or it has completed 5 years from the date of incorporation/ registration.
  • A Start-up shall be eligible for tax benefits only after it has obtained certification from the Inter-Ministerial Board, setup for such purpose.

Commerce and Industry Ministry had asked all Indian states and union territories to set up Startup Hub as well as incubators to help budding entrepreneurs. What benefits will this put forth for the aspirants? Also, is this an effective format to gain funds for budding entrepreneurs?
Of course, it will bring in many benefits to young entrepreneurs. Availability of Startup Hub as well as incubators will result in more support for startups and better facilities. Mostly startups require guidance, support and mentorship in their initial years and by having more startup hubs and incubators it will help them to get their queries and doubts resolved.
 
How do you see the Indian domestic market evolving in the next fiscal?
The government has made some radical changes and has taken very bold and progressive steps, which are expected to show results in the coming fiscal year. We hope that the India Domestic market will grow further and will be better compared to previous fiscal years.
 

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