Online diagnostics startup Healthians is embroiled in a legal dispute after a co-founder sued the company, its founder and its investors, two people aware of the matter told VCCircle.
Anuj Mittal--who had joined as the co-founder of Healthians in 2015 and quit in May this year--has alleged mismanagement at the company and oppression of his rights as a minority shareholder, the people said on the condition of anonymity.
Mittal made the allegations in a petition filed last month with the National Company Law Tribunal under Sections 241 and 242 of the Companies Act 2013, they added.
Healthians, operated by Expedient Healthcare Marketing Pvt. Ltd, was founded by Deepak Sahni in 2014.
It raised seed funding from healthcare-focussed accelerator Healthstart and then secured funding from cricketer Yuvraj Singh’s venture capital firm YouWeCan Ventures in mid-2015. Mittal had joined Healthians after the funding from YouWeCan.
In his petition, Mittal has alleged that Sahni and the investors oppressed him by reducing his shareholding in the company through a fraudulent transfer and allotment of shares and forced him to exit the company, the people cited above said.
One of the persons said that Sahni had hired Mittal as chief scalability officer and then appointed him as a co-founder responsible for technology, strategy and operations of the company. This was not immediately legalised, the person added, but media statements issued by the company mentioned Mittal as a co-founder.
Mittal confirmed to VCCircle that he had filed a case against Healthians and the investors but did not elaborate saying the matter is in court.
Sahni and YouWeCan Ventures denied the allegations. They said that Mittal had "voluntarily resigned" as chief scalability officer in May and that he is now trying to make "undue private gains" and "settle personal grudges".
"The matter is sub-judice and it would be against our company’s governance ethos to engage in any sort of public spat with regard to these unfounded allegations and misrepresentation of facts. In due course of the proceedings before the NCLT, it will be clear that these allegations are not based on facts or place the true state of affairs," Sahni and YouWeCan said in a statement to VCCircle.
Beenext did not respond to queries from VCCircle till the time of filing this article.
Commenting on the allegations made by Mittal, a legal expert VCCircle spoke to said that the authenticity of transfer of shares from Mittal to Sahni and investors would decide this case and that the tribunal would verify the allegations.
“A number of cases in the past have been decided in favour of the petitioner on the same ground, but only if the allegations have been supported by proper documentation and representations of the case as well,” said Manoj K Singh, founding partner at corporate dispute and litigation firm Singh & Associates.
Healthians aggregates diagnostic labs, crowd-sourced sample collectors and nearby doctors. It also makes patients’ medical records available online. It currently operates in Delhi-NCR.
Other heavily-funded healthcare startups that also aggregate diagnostics labs, apart from offering other services, include Practo Technologies and Lybrate.
This is not the first time that the co-founders of investor-backed firms have locked horns.
Earlier this year, Tiger Global-backed e-commerce marketplace ShopClues’ co-founder and former CEO Sandeep Aggarwal accused his wife, co-founder and chief business officer Radhika Aggarwal, and co-founder and CEO Sanjay Sethi of thwarting his re-entry into the company. Sandeep Aggarwal had relinquished his board seat and position as CEO of ShopClues following insider trading charges in the US in 2013.
Last year, India’s only profitable unicorn, MuSigma, also saw a leadership crisis after founder Dhiraj Rajaram and wife Ambiga Subramanian, who was briefly the CEO, got a divorce. After they parted ways, Rajaram took back the CEO's post, bought her shares and got investors’ support while Ambiga moved on.