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Boutiques advise on new media VC, expect revival of early stage deals

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Thakker & Thakker and venture capital (VC) boutique law firms Sand Hill Counsel and Menon Associates have advised on the series A investment into a Hyderabad mobile TV start-up, giving several angel investors a partial exit.

Venture capital firms IDG Ventures and Qualcomm Ventures invested $3m in Apalya Technologies, which aggregates entertainment content and optimises them for display on small screens and mobile phones.

Sand Hill is a two-year old Mumbai niche start-up with an office in the Silicon Valley and advised the company Apalya.

Founding partner Shantanu Surpure led the team and said: "During the downturn a lot of early stage slowed down and a lot of funds became ultra cautious and moved up the chain [outside of the early stage].

He added that there were probably only five to ten early-stage funds left but this deal exemplified that a come-back may be possible.

Surpure is a member of the angel investors network Mumbai Angels, which had invested Rs 2 crore in the company in 2008 with some investors having now exited in this series A round.

Bangalore-based seven-year old boutique firm Menon Associates and its founding partner Satish Menon advised the VC fund IDG Ventures.

He said: "I think it's picking up – there's been a lot of movement since April at least when we saw a little bit of a lull but now it's really come back into speed."

Menon explained that smaller firms could compete very effectively in the lower-tier VC space "The biggest problem with the larger law firms is they are very costly in terms of their transaction."

He added that many larger Bangalore firms would allocate smaller deals to junior lawyers, who had less of a grasp of the business perspective and issues.

Thakker & Thakker managing partner Bijesh Thakker and recently promoted partner Anisha Patnaik led the deal for the firm's regular client Qualcomm Ventures.

Sand Hill is a venture capital and private equity boutique of seven lawyers, including two partners and one associate partner based in the US. It is headquartered in Mumbai's Worli area, where Trilegal's current office is based until it will move to nearby Lower Parel next month.

Sand Hill practices both US and Indian law.

Menon Associates is a five-lawyer boutique operating in the same field out of Bangalore. It is headed up by Menon who was previously the general counsel at IT company Wipro.

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