Alleging that Grover, his wife Madhuri Jain and other family members misappropriated the fintech's funds, BharatPe is seeking up to Rs 88.67 crore in damages
Ashneer Grover, the former co-founder and managing director (MD) of BharatPe is not known for mincing his words, be it on the Shark Tank reality show or on Twitter. Now, his tell-all book, Doglapan: The Hard Truth about Life and Start-Ups, promises to live up to his persona as an outspoken entrepreneur.
He claimed that the book created panic among BharatPe executives, leading to them filing several cases against him and his wife, Madhuri Jain. The fintech has alleged that Grover, Jain and other family members created fake bills, enlisted fictitious vendors to provide services to the company and overcharged the firm for recruitment. It is seeking up to Rs 88.67 crore in damages.
Grover has been making public allegations against Suhail Sameer, BharatPe's chief executive officer (CEO) and its general counsel and head for corporate strategy, Sumeet Singh, including claiming that there is no BharatPe without Grover.
Suhail (CEO) - bahut aish kar li Ashneer ke raised funds pe. Ladkiya bhi ghuma li Australia. Par hai to hum nalle - hiring, product, tech, UNITY bank, PA license, mkt share - kuchh nahi hil raha humse. Kya karenge?— Ashneer Grover (@Ashneer_Grover) December 12, 2022
Sumeet (GC): Case karenge ! case karenge ! Case karenge#doglapan pic.twitter.com/K0Q8qJ60e1
On another Twitter thread replying to a fellow Twitterati asking for a free copy, he said: "Na bhai - business is business -- kitaab pehle aa gayi thi -- yeh case shase to isliye aaye kyun ki kitaab se sab ki fat li (My book came first and this triggered the cases against him as it created panic for all (at BharatPe)".
BharatPe has reportedly filed an arbitration under Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) rules for clawing back Grover's restricted shareholding and founder title. If relief is granted, Grover may lose his unvested shares and right to use the founder title.
Grover holds about 8.5 per cent of the company. Of this, 1.4 per cent is not vested.
This is BharatPe's third legal action against Grover after a civil suit at the Delhi High Court and a criminal complaint with the Economic Offences Wing.
In this book, Grover advised start-up founders to give spouses and family members board positions in the company. He also suggested that they should avoid imbibing the concept of arm's length, which refers to business between two unrelated and unaffiliated parties.
“If you choose to work with your spouse, there should be no hesitation in designating them as co-founders as well as giving them a seat on the board, under their capability but also of the fact that they are invested in your success and will be the victims of your failure, like no one else,” he wrote in his book.
Grover added that if he works with family members, he will still "give them the same rate as the market and (they) will get the same deliverables. The added advantage that I may get is that a family member may work with me on a lower MOQ (minimum order quantity) or that they may take a credit risk on me,” he added.
Talking about investments and capital infusions, he said that investors neither validate legacy businesses nor they are more important than founders. He also insisted that the role of the founders is bigger than the backers.
“You have given him a god-like status. This was a mistake I made, and you definitely need to avoid it. Of course, since we live in a capital-deficit economy, this thinking is that much harder to implement, but success lies in never losing sight of it,” Grover lamented.