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One lawyer’s secret to making start-ups pay: Indus drives Olacabs to $210m SoftBank fundraising opposite AZB, MoFo

Olacabs: Another Indus start-up client starting to pay for itself?
Olacabs: Another Indus start-up client starting to pay for itself?

Induslaw advised online and app-based taxi booking service Olacabs, and its holding company ANI Technologies, in raising Rs 1281 crore ($210m) from SoftBank Internet and Media Inc (SIMI), which was advised by AZB & Partners and Morrison Foerster.

Indus Delhi partner Gaurav Dani and senior associate Divya Varghese acted for ANI.

AZB Bangalore partner Srinath Dasari and Morrison Foerster Virginia-based partner Gregory M Giammittorio acted for Softbank.

Olacabs’ existing investors, Tiger Global, Matrix Partners India and Steadview Capital, were advised in-house.

This Series D round of fundraising is one of the largest in the Indian consumer technology and mobile space and follows Ola’s Rs 250 crore fundraising from Sequoia Capital in July of this year, reported Forbes India.

Start-up strategy?

Dani said that he and Induslaw had been acting for Ola since their Series B investment after meeting the founder of the two-year-old company last summer.

Induslaw also has a number of other clients in the technology start-up space that have made it big, such as Snapdeal, which recently got $100m in private equity funding, and e-classifieds website Quikr.

While some of the firm’s clients became clients after the angel stage, Dani explained that when acting for a start-up it was important that the law firm can keep up with the clients growth for it to be lucrative.

“From a lawyer’s perspective, it’s about the relationship and how you build on it,” Dani said. “As those companies grow, those requirements change. You need to keep adjusting to those needs, as they grow bigger, the complexities also increase… From a lawyer’s perspective you need to keep up with the growth and also have enough skills to help them from angel round to series 5, series 6 [or IPO] where the issues tend to get more and more complex.”

Acknowledging that taking on start-up clients obviously present an initial risk, Dani said that he himself currently had three or four start-up clients that had a “very exciting model and very interesting ideas”. Out of those four, two or three would hopefully make it big, he added. “When law firms grow, they don’t see value in start-ups as much as they see more in already growing companies. I don’t think that’s correct.

“We hold their hands at the first level – and keep holding till the time they grow.”

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