Chennai: The co-founder and chief executive of Chennai-based homestay booking startup Stayzilla Yogendra Vasupal has been arrested by the police on allegations of non-payment of dues by an advertising agency the company worked with.
The development comes barely weeks after Stayzilla shut down its operations last month.
Vasupal’s wife and Stayzilla co-founder Rupal Yogendra told VCCircle over the phone that she and her family were being threatened by the owner of the advertising agency.
Another Stayzilla co-founder, Sachit Singhi, wrote an email on Tuesday seeking help from the company’s investors—Matrix Partners and Nexus Venture Partners—and said Vasupal’s parents had received a parcel “that has black magic sculpture” with Vasupal’s photo on it.
Earlier in the day, The Times of India reported that Vasupal was questioned by Chennai police after Jigsaw Advertising accused Vasupal of defrauding the firm of Rs 1.72 crore. The report added that he will be produced at a magistrate’s court on Wednesday.
Vasupal’s wife told that he has not confessed to the police, as was earlier reported by a section of the media.
In a blog on publishing site Medium, Vasupal has written about various ordeals he and Singhi had been facing in the past few weeks. Rupal Yogendra said Vasupal wrote the blog, titled ‘Help! I need everybody’, before he was arrested.
Vasupal wrote his version of two developments. “The first case is against a politician who was our landlord. We have video and audio proof of an assault and then a verbal threat to kill. The second case is against us from a media agency with whom the company had a dispute over deficiency of services and to whom we had asked to take it up in court.”
He added, “I have realised that while we all want India to Start-up and Stand-up, the regulatory framework + corruption (sic) does not let one pick up after they fall. Instead it works overtime to bury them.”
According to C.S Aditya of Jig Saw Solution and Advertising, who filed the case against Mr. Vasupal, there have been massive bills generated over a period of about 12-13 months.
“The first unpaid bills date back to April. We were expecting them to pay us back in the summer. They also got $13 million series C funding in May, so we were confident of getting our settlement by July,” he said.
“But October passed, December passed and I still had not been paid. When I approached them, they told me to stop bothering them and threatened me,” he added.
He further said, “The very next day, my blood pressure shot up and I was admitted to hospital. They did not inform me they were shutting down operations in February. They have also not paid for advertisements placed with TripAdvisor, Google Ads and other vendors,” he added.