Aparna Sai and Ranajit Dam cover Ikigai Law’s views in their article “Start-up Nation” in the June edition of Asian Legal Business. The article discusses how the startup practice is evolving for law firms and how lawyers are playing a critical role in the development of the sector. Here are some excerpts:
Anirudh Rastogi, founder of Ikigai Law, says he expects continuity in the government’s policies with regard to start-ups. “There are all signals that the government will continue to promote the industry. Government bodies such as Startup India have done a good job in creating an interface between the industry and the government. The central government’s emphasis on the industry has led to a healthy competition between state governments to raise their profiles as being start-up-friendly,” he notes.
Rastogi says that Ikigai is advising a number of digital platforms and fintech businesses and seeing increased activity in e-sports and gaming, InsureTech and agriculture. “We are best known for our work in highly-complex and emerging technology sectors such as aviation and aerospace, new media and online content and blockchain,” he notes. “Each start-up is unique, and as such, their legal needs are varied depending upon where they are in their life cycle might. For instance, start-ups that have just begun may need validation of their business models. They may want to put in place co-founder agreements, ESOPs, brand protection strategies and template business contracts. Start-ups that are raising funding are looking for help with the transaction. Some start-ups might be operating in very challenging regulatory environments, or, in sectors where there is no real law or regulation to speak of – these companies are looking for advice on how to navigate this legal uncertainty. For instance, some start-ups – like those in the drones or blockchain space in India – operate in a sector where there is no clear regulation, and sometimes hard to predict what direction the regulation might take. For such startups, the challenge comes from navigating this uncertainty, and making business decisions in such a regulatory environment, planning for various regulatory scenarios, and even be willing to engage with the law-making process. On the other hand, there are also start-ups that want to enter into very highly regulated sectors – FinTech start-ups for instance – the set of legal challenges that they face come from the very fact that these sectors are very extensively regulated.”
Rastogi of Ikigai feels that start-up work has increased significantly in the last three to four years and will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. “A significant part of the work that we do for start-ups involves navigating continuously evolving, often challenging, regulatory environments,” he says. “More and more start-ups are willing to interface with regulators and take on the task of shaping policy in their respective sectors, and here lie some of the biggest opportunities and challenges as well. Lawyers will have to learn to engage deeply with business and product teams and regulatory processes when working with disruptive tech start-ups and that capability is what sets us apart.”