The iSAFE option to start up funding: Legality and taxation

Mahak Agarwal |

Navigating the world of fundraising for startups is no easy feat. This becomes all the more challenging for a pre-revenue start-up which cannot have a valuation. Amongst the several fundraising options available to a start-up, one of the budding and lesser-known sources happens to be iSAFE.


iSAFE, short for, India Simple Agreement for Future Equity, was first introduced in India by 100X.VC, an early-stage investment firm. This move was inspired by US’s ‘Simple Agreement for Future Equity (‘SAFE’)’, an alternative to convertible debt and the brainchild of an American start-up incubator. SAFE is a financing contract between a startup and an investor that grants the investor the right to acquire equity in the firm subject to specific activating events, such as a future equity fundraising.[1]

So far as the success of SAFE in India is concerned, being neither debt (since they do not accrue interest), nor equity (since they do not carry any dividend or shareholders’ rights) or any other instrument, it could not carve its place in India and was cornered as a mere contingent contract with low reliability and security. On the contrary, iSAFE happened to be the game changer in the Indian context, being a significantly modified version of SAFE.

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