Startups and Emerging Companies

  • Overview
  • Experience
  • Case Study

Bytelex Advocates is an innovative practice offering legal services to a broad cross-section of clients in different industries, providing support to the formation and growth of their unconventional business models. The Firm’s focus is Startups, Technology and Emerging Companies and the first firm in the African startup ecosystem to focus its practice in these murky but promising waters. Bytelex advises some of the fastest growing startups on both their day-to-day operations, wider strategic objectives and supports clients across all other areas needed to address risk, including regulatory authority/government affairs, import/export, tax, real estate and employment law and how these affect their businesses. From restructuring to become investment ready, venture capital to private equity and debt offerings, we assist clients through all stages of their transactions to ensure successful profitable outcomes.

Our clients include providers of financial services to vulnerable groups of people, innovators in the biotechnological health services sector, IT solutions service deliveries, e commerce companies, asset managers, private equity firms, agri-preneurs and fintech companies. The uncertain dynamics of most startups demands efficient fast legal strategies that address regulatory and enforcement risks and the costs of compliance and require the team to always be innovative in designing custom made legal solutions to unconventional problems. Our wealth of transactional advisory experience stretches across Uganda, Rwanda (where the firm has a fulltime physical presence), Ghana, Tanzania, Kenya and the United States.

The Firm boasts of an in-depth understanding of the needs of technology, startups and emerging companies. We are committed to understanding the unique needs of our clients and our service offering is guided by the need to: spur the growth of our clients: provide innovative solutions, and to be flexible in approach. Our priority is providing forward-looking legal advice on transactions, litigation, compliance matters. This department understands the need to deliver global advice with a local focus and has the experience and team resource to represent clients in commercial transactions, as well as to meet their needs in regulatory, public policy and enforcement areas.

We offer comprehensive solutions for every stage in the development of emerging companies and help our clients contend with legal issues which include- restructurings, regulatory demands and the compliance costs that come with formalisation of business structure at Business Formation stage, intellectual property protection, regulatory compliance, Raising Capital, Tax advisory, Employment & Labour Law and Corporate governance.

  • Giz, i4policy and the Government of Rwanda on the creation of the Rwanda startup act/law framework, required make a gap analysis of several business and innovation laws /policies.
  • Advised Edcorp international Ltd, a fast growing local mining company on a $1,150,000 equity financing term sheet and debt financing documentation.
  • Advised ALTX-Group on setting up the first Pan-African securities exchange for emerging companies focused on alternative derivatives such as ABS, commodities, and securitization of receivables.
  • Advised DkB partners Ltd on setting up a seed fund investing in early stage technology companies ventures.
  • Advised a group of Rwandan and Nigerian investors on a joint venture arrangement with Mobicash in Nigeria, Rwanda Lithuania and the United States.
  • Advised and drew for Innovex Limited, a fast growing renewable energy startup, a seed round- investment road map strategy in respect of absorption of a $154,211 investment.
  • Advised Africa Smart Investments Ltd, a large Rwandan logistics and distribution startup on negotiating an agreement with Authors and Copyright owners to distribute their digital works on the Vital Source digital platform.
  • Advised on a $ 710,000 spv- joint venture investment vehicle to implement a startup residency program in Kigali Rwanda.
  • Advised Zipline International, a US 1.2bn valued drone logistics startup with operations in Rwanda and Ghana. Notably, involved in advising on the regulatory requirements for use of polythene (part of the delivery mechanism) in Rwanda, corporate governance requirements for entities in Ghana and drafting, review of the human resource manual and creation of country specific appendices.
  • Japan International Cooperation Agency, which is the development finance institution of the Government of Japan retained the firm as legal consultant in the implementation of the 250-startups accelerator mentorship programme in Rwanda. The accelerator program is manned by the Government of Rwanda under the ICT Innovation Ecosystem Strengthening program. The firm is responsible for 10 companies and 10 trainee lawyers each cohort.
  • Advised on the setup and initiation of programs by the San Francisco vault, a pre-eminent San Francisco accelerator that has invested over $330,000,000 in tech-startups in Silicon Valley. The vault will soon be launching programs in Uganda and the East Africa region.
  • Advised Medsols Uganda, a health innovations startup (team I-Drain) in its patenting process of the pleural effusion solution. The firm was also retained to perform the licensing process with NDA.
  • Advised ClinicPesa on its proposed introduction of a web based health savings platform in Uganda.
  • Advised Think IT, the region’s fastest growing biotech and life sciences innovations Company on valuing their IP portfolio containing spinoffs of Matibabu and BreastIT.
  • Advised Teheca Limited, a health services technology innovator on their proposed market entry to Kenya and seed round documentation and preparation.
  • Matibabu, (U) Limited (subsidiary of ThinkIT (U) Limited), the inventor of a blood-free malarial testing kit engaged the Firm to advise on developing cross-licensing strategies with Penn State University and Glasgow university.
  • Advised Park and Pick (Rwanda) on structuring for investment and investor readiness for their seed round.
  • Advised Olado Business group an e-commerce platform on adoption of terms of use and privacy policies.
  • Advised Raisin Ltd, the creators of “Akokanya” Rwanda’s first ticketing system on complying with the requirements of a fintech payments integrator.
  • Advised clinicPesa (U) Limited on the structuring of their Business to Business Loan and Saving Product through the clinicPesa mobile application, and preparation of the Loan Service Agreement in accordance with the proposed structure.
  • Advised Zembo `Uganda (SMC) Limited, a manufacturer of electric motorcycles, on the most appropriate transaction structure, and drafting of the Hire Purchase Agreement for sale of the motorcycles in Uganda and Battery Hire Agreement.
  • Advised on a joint venture/partnership arrangement between FUJI MISR Elevators and Escalators and EMETS (U) Limited for the supply and installation of elevators and escalators in the East African region including Uganda, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Southern Sudan.

Case: 

Matibabu is a subsidiary to ThinkIT Limited, a fast growing biotechnological innovator and life sciences startup. Matibabu created the Matibabu Malarial testing kit, a new novel bloodless method of testing for Malaria that achieves the same result as the traditional pricking needles or injections method, without using the painful needlepricks and the drawing of blood samples. This process is replaced by technology. Due to the different nature of biotechnological investments, the firm has had to work with the startup to scale the numerous challenges facing today’s biotechnology and medical device practice (they take longer time in Research and Development of the product that usual startups and therefore are more of a long-term investment).

The firm has worked with ThinkIT to the stage when they have taken their promising products from the laboratory to the market, and has advised them in protecting these products from Intellectual Property, regulatory and reputational risks. The firm has advised ThinkIT and Matibabu from the business formation stage, corporate governance affairs, structured the companies for balanced power among founders and future investors, advised on debt strategies and human resource (employment). Most recently we advised Matibabu, (U) Limited on developing cross-licensing strategies with Penn State University and Glasgow University and Think IT Limited on valuing their IP portfolio containing spinoffs of Matibabu and BreastIT.

Working with a biotechnological and life sciences firm means dealing with increasing pressure from many sides that is, the demand for greater shareholder returns, discussions on anticipated patent expiration challenges, fierce competition, pricing pressures that is accessibility vis a vis profitability, increased government regulation beyond core safety issues, rising costs of R&D, challenges in maximizing returns.
We weigh the scientific, medical, regulatory, commercial and enforcement environments.