Belgian Safe Access to Future Equity
Bel SAFE is an initiative of David Ryckaert, a Belgian venture capital and private equity lawyer.
Bel SAFE is an example of an agreement that gives start-ups safe access to future equity. It's just an example, so you should not use it without professional advice from a lawyer, accountant and / or tax advisor.
Bel SAFE's main ambition is to facilitate the financing of start-ups, so that founders can concentrate on their business.
Bel SAFE is an open source initiative, meaning that anybody who wishes to use, improve or comment on the document or mechanism, is free to do so.
We're looking forward to improving Bel SAFE based on the community's input.
a. Cost of the investment
Access to seed capital is restricted due to the fact that investing in equity is costly. A capital increase in a Belgian limited liability company requires a notarised deed, which costs at least about a thousand Euro, independently of the amount invested. Subsequent investments require subsequent notarised deeds.
b. Discussion about valuations
When discussing with seed investors, it is nearly impossible for both parties to come to a reasonably motivated valuation for the company / idea. As a consequence, seed money is often made available under the form of a loan, whereas both parties would prefer to agree on an equity stake.
To make seed capital investments easier, Bel Safe has found inspiration abroad.
A similar French intiative called Meet AIR followed recently. AIR stands for "Accord d'Investissement Rapide".
We believe Belgian law also offers cost efficient, rapid and simple tools for investment in future equity. That's why "Bel Safe" refers to "Belgium" and "SAFE".
Bel SAFE offers a standard document, inspired by the SAFE and AIR initiatives, that can rapidly be amended to set out the agreement among the founders, the seed investors and the company.
The agreement functions along the following simple principles:
The agreement is a first document, which should be completed by a shareholders agreement or at least stipulations in the company's articles of association, such as transfer restrictions on shares, tag-along and drag-along rigths etc.
We will further develop standard documents depending on the reactions we receive in the community.