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This article is written by Pranav Sethi, from SVKM NMIMS, School of law, Navi Mumbai. This article analyzes the valuation of startups.


A startup is essentially a simple newly established organization that takes the form of a small business, a partnership, or a small venture created to rapidly expand a new business model. In other words, a startup is a new, young company that aims to work with a dynamic approach to develop a revenue-generating business model. Typically, a startup begins with the creation of a Minimum Viable Product (MVP), also known as a prototype, to assess and develop the new initiative and business methods.

Furthermore, the entrepreneurs conduct research and testing to obtain a greater knowledge of innovations, advancements, ideas, market concepts, and commercial potential. Then, at a preliminary phase, a shareholder’s agreement (SHA) is needed to confirm the ownership, commitment, and contributions of founders and investors. India is the third-largest enterprise hub, with a thriving market for a wide range of products. However, the failure rate of startups in India is extremely high. And, due to a variety of factors, approximately 90% of startups in India are forced to close their doors. The proportion of startups in India is growing as individuals become more interested in business and enhanced government programs and workplace conditions are creating a perfect setting for businesses to grow and thrive.

Impact of the internet age

Internet-based enterprises have seen rapid development globally, and now that India is taking centre stage in global markets due to its high productivity and restructure requirements, capturing value, and huge market, numerous Indian startups have emerged, particularly in the last couple of years, building optimized businesses (considerably innovation) to overcome a variety of troubles we encounter in everyday life.

The main features of start-up companies are that they will have no previous history, that their functions have not yet reached a stage of commercial operations, that they have marginal profits with relatively high losses, that they have restricted promoter’s capital infused with a high relying on external sources of funds, and that their investment decisions are volatile. Startup funding has dried up, with investors concerned about when and if ventures will become profitable.

Characteristics of Millennial Businesses

As we mentioned in the previous section, young organizations are diverse, but they share a few characteristics. We’ll keep those mutual characteristics in mind in this section, with a closer look at the valuation issues that they formulate.

Functional losses, negligible or no profits

The limited background provided for young companies is made even less usable by indications of credibility that there might be a marginal running factor in them. Sales are typically low or non-existent for start-up businesses, and costs are often associated with keeping the business up and running rather than generating sales. They result in significant working losses when taken together.

Non-public equity Reliance 

In some instances, newer companies depend on non-public resources of equity rather than public markets. At the earlier stages, the equity is almost entirely generated by the progenitor (friends and circle of relatives). When the likelihood of future success grows, the need for additional capital and venture capitalists become a source of equity capital in exchange for a share of the business entity.

Multiple value statements

The recycled strikes created by young organizations to increase value, expose value to potential investors, who placed first all the time, to the possibility that their confidence would be lowered by deals presented to subsequent value financiers. Value financial specialists in young companies often seek and obtain protection against this result as the first demands on monetary standards from investments and in liquidation, as well as ownership or control privileges allowing them to have a say in the company’s activities, to protect their assets. As a result, specific value commitments in a young company will vary on a variety of factors that affect their worth.

Liquidity problem in investments

Ownership assets in young companies are mostly kept in secret and in non-institutionalized systems, they are often much more volatile than investments in their exchange on free-market counterparts.

No records of financial history 

Younger firms have rather subdued backgrounds if the possibility of orally discussing the obvious moral exists. Many of them have only one or two years of operational and financial data, and only a small fraction have financials for only a segment of a year.

Different methods to value startups

Until 2015, start-up valuations were intricately connected to the market values of U.S. and Chinese software start-ups, and investors were afraid of losing out. Investors depend on various valuation metrics, Gross Merchandise Value, which is specified as the overall sales value for products purchased by a consumer market over a duration of time. The greater the scale, the higher the valuation, and the emphasis was not on developing a profitable business model.

Surprisingly, the investment tendency has managed to remain complicated and distinct in 2016. So several e-tailers have identified a similar decline in order volume as they cut discounts, resulting in a drop in GMV, raising questions about their additional funding matches and market values. Rather, numerous businesses have revealed down rounds (lower-level funding), and most have even closed their doors. Numerous startups have also altered their business models to improve unit economic principles and profit margins. As a result of the foregoing, Angel and Series. Funding is at an all-time low, and the emphasis has shifted back to the origins of business strategy validation and cash flow.

Asset Approach, Income Approach, and Market Approach are the three most common approaches to valuing mature companies. These methods, however, are not particularly useful for valuing start-ups because they often have negligible sales or EBITDA metrics, limited history, no meaningful comparables (at their stage), and long-term income/ cash flow estimates are complicated to determine.

There are three ways to value startups namely Venture Capitalist Method, First Chicago Method and Adjusted Discounted Cash Flow Method.

Venture Capitalist Method

The Venture Capitalist Method is most often used by venture capitalists who are looking to invest in start-up businesses.

Consider the following scenario: A venture capitalist (VC) is willing to invest $1 million in a startup technology business for a five-year term. The company is thought to be making $2 million a year. Net Profits from Year 5 and the business equivalent are worth a 10x price earning (PE) amount, and the VC is looking for a 20% return on its investment.

The crucial question is how much equity the VC should be required to receive in exchange for its investment.

First Chicago Method

In this process, the valuation of a startup is calculated using comparative businesses’ significant amounts (based on existing or exit year financial metrics).To arrive at the weighted average value, the first Chicago approach considers three business scenarios: Performance, Loss, and Sustainability, and assigns a likelihood to each case depending on the phase of the company and statistical parameters.

To summarise, start-up valuation is heavily influenced by judgment and qualitative factors such as the history, expertise, and enthusiasm of the founders and co-founders, the business model, the scalability potential of the business (with or without technology), the competitive environment, and current traction. Startup companies sometimes operate in the mouth of hell, which presupposes weighing the chances of succeeding and loss. In several ways, startup valuation often entails the validation of the business model, making it more complex than other valuations. Since everything in a startup is motivated by the future, the valuer’s experience is crucial in determining the value.

Method of Adjusted Discounted Cash Flow

Discounted cash flow (DCF) is a valuation approach that uses estimated future revenues to calculate the profitability of an investment. DCF analysis seeks to determine the current value of an investment based on potential estimates of how much money it will produce.

This refers to investment choices investors make when making in businesses or shares, such as purchasing the company, engaging in a technology startup, or purchasing a stock, as well as budgetary control and operational expense actions taken by company owners such as developing a major factory or buying or renting new equipment.

DCF research aims to analyse how much profit an investor will get from a given investment after accounting for the time value of money. Since capital can be allocated, the time value of money means that a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow. As a result, a DCF test is suitable in any circumstance where an individual is paying money now in the hope of getting more money later.

Statistics that support the growth of online payouts in India

  • The number of Internet users in India is expected to rise by 16 percent from 213 million to 612 million by 2020. (2013-2020).
  • Surprisingly, India’s number of online shoppers is expected to grow at a faster rate than the rest of the world.
  • 20 million to 220 million at a CAGR of 41%, with average online spending increasing by 18% from 147 to 464 dollars (2013-2020).
  • Over the next three years, India will account for one out of every three internet users worldwide.
  • India’s Internet market is expected to reach 137 billion dollars by 2020. e-Commerce is expected to contribute 74% ($100 billion) of the total.
  • By 2020, online shoppers will account for 36% of all Internet users in India.

Investor’s Perspective

Most usually asked questions that every investor has in their mind are :

  1. What should I be willing to pay for this income source?
  2. Is it possible to gain a sufficient return on investment (ROI) to justify the risk I’m taking?

Till 2015, the valuations of Indian virtual retailers and e-Commerce companies were closely related to the booming valuations of US tech start-ups, and shareholders were afraid of losing out. Online shopping companies used a common metric for valuing their businesses. The term “GMV” refers to the net sales value of products sold by a marketplace for a given period. However, GMV is not represented on their financial reports, and their real sales are only a portion of GMV. The entity’s valuation is calculated by multiplying the GMV or revenue (as reported on the financial statement) by a multiple (x times).

Law of diminishing value returns 

Recent Regulatory Changes

Market value has long been discussed in India as an activity or a method, and it accounts for a significant portion of the cases in Mergers & Acquisitions (M&A) because it requires an aspect of subjectivity that is often questioned. Especially in India, where there are no clear criteria for business valuation for unlisted and private companies, valuations lack uniformity and widely accepted global valuation practices in many cases. In India, also the scope of judicial knowledge is accessible on the issue. Furthermore, the lack of a strict plan of operation and the lack of regulation under any legislation is causing plenty of plot points.

The Companies Bill of 2011, which introduced the definition of Qualified Valuer also has served as a way to allow fair valuation in corporations, indicating the need for skilled valuers to standardize valuation practices in India, resulting in greater efficiency and greater accountability.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) newly established and suggested Business Valuation Practice Standards (BVPS), to identify standardized rules, practices, and protocols for valuers providing valuation services in India.


Though the value of a company can be statistically calculated using valuation methods, this value is still subjective, based on buyer and seller preferences and eventual negotiations, and professional judgment is an important dimension of evaluating value. In the lack of enterprise valuation criteria, valuation becomes more of a practice based on the valuer’s industry experience than a method based on analytical studies and frameworks. Though, on a global scale, business valuations are regulated by a variety of standards, including the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts (NACVA), the Canadian Institute of Chartered Business Valuators (CICBV), American Society of Appraisers (ASA), Institute of Business Appraisers (IBA),  valuation standards of American Institute of CPAs (AICPA) and ICAI valuation standard. Nevertheless, given the increasing significance of valuation in financing and industry choices, as well as in compliance requirements procedures, the creation of valuation practice as a discipline and practice has been a requirement in the current framework due to financial market prerequisites, the developing world economy, and the shifting structure of financial statements.


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