The action came after hundreds of entrepreneurs staged a protest at the India Expo Hall no 7 venue on Friday afternoon.
As per the complainants, the event organizers promised that over 9000 angel investors and 1500+ Venture Capitalists including Sequoia Capital and Ah! Ventures will be at the event to raise funds for start-up founders present at the event. However, the founders, who had come from all across the country, found that barely four to five investors were present at the event.
“The organizers of the event claimed it to be the ‘World’s biggest start-up funding festival’ and sold tickets starting from ₹6,990 to ₹25,000 with the promise that many big investors and venture capitalists will be present at the event. However, there were barely three to four investors at present”, said Shubhashish Chakraborty, a budding entrepreneur who had come from Kolkata and had bought a ticket for ₹6,990.
Chakraborty added that as per the event schedule, Union minister Nitin Gadkari was supposed to speak at the event on Friday via video conference, but it was cancelled as well.
Deepika Nahar, one of the 14 complainants who got the FIR registered against the organisers, alleged: “There was a huge advertisement of the event where they claimed there will be around 9,000 angel investors and 1,500 institutional investors. We thought this could be a great place to get investments. But when we got there, we found only 3-4 investors and all others were just start-ups.” She runs Apna Mechanic, a bike service startup based in Gurgaon, which aims to provide doorstep bike repair services.
We are scammed by World Startup Convention by fake promises of 9000+ Angel Investors, 1500+VC, and 75000+ startups! SCAM #JusticeforStartups #WSCScam@narendramodi @dr_maheshsharma @myogiadityanath @htTweets @ABPNews @SanjayAzadSln @SupriyaShrinate @CP_Noida pic.twitter.com/DYI51PoB8j
— Sachin Chauhan (@isachinchauhan) March 26, 2023
Another complainant Sachin Chauhan alleged: “They sold tickets from Rs 6,990 to Rs 25,000 under different categories. The organisers misused the names of ministers and notable figures and brands to promote the event.”
Few of the Investor’s they have claimed to come in the event has denied any association with World Startup Convention and its founders.
@ahventures and @ahventuresfund never approved any association with World Startup Convention. After learning that our logos are being used on their websites, our team sent mails to remove the same but the event’s team did not take any action on the same.
— ah! Ventures (@ahventures) March 25, 2023
Organizers of this event are using the Sequoia brand name and logo without its knowledge or approval. Please note that Sequoia Capital is not associated with this event, its organisers or the website (https://t.co/I0M0LfDKP4) in any way or form. pic.twitter.com/RfeUAFCBaY
— Sequoia India & Southeast Asia (@SequoiaIndiaSEA) October 28, 2022
By around 2 pm, an angry crowd of over 500 people started protesting against the organisers, asking them to refund their ticket money. Police also reached the venue to pacify the protesters.
“There were around 500 people at the event who were asking for a refund of their money. Police personnel tried to pacify them and spoke to the organisers, who said that investors will come in the next two days of the event,” said Ashok Kumar, additional deputy commissioner of police, Greater Noida.
By evening, 16 participants lodged a complaint at the Knowledge Park police station against the organisers.
Delhi-based lawyer Raghumanyu Taneja who submitted the complaint said, “The event organisers made false claims to sell tickets to entrepreneurs and start-up founders. There were no investors, and it was nothing short of a scam. The organisers have used pictures of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union minister Nitin Gadkari to mislead the victims and promote the event”. He said he bought a ticket for ₹8,000 and was looking to raise funds for his start-up.
@WorldStartupCon is a SHAM! Don’t participate. There are no investors. FIR filed against the directors @luketalwar and Arjun Chaudhary. We protested at the knowledge park Police Station. Big names of @nitin_gadkari were being used to promote this event. SHAME! pic.twitter.com/X5sR8JmU2J
— RaghuMTaneja (@tanejaraghu) March 24, 2023
Based on the complaint, an FIR was registered against two organisers of the event under Section 420 (cheating) and 406 (criminal breach of trust) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), police said.
VK Singh, station house officer (SHO) of Knowledge Park police station said, “Police teams are investigating the claims in the complaint and the organisers are being questioned. We have increased police deployment at the venue”.
An official statement from India Expo Mart said, “We only provide space and other logistics services to various companies and third parties for holding exhibitions”.