Even as I was learning and thinking, competition was racing ahead – raising private and public capital, expanding aggressively, building new product features. Business is, after all, war by another name. We tried to raise private equity (PE) in late 2018, but did not get the valuation we wanted. So, we were still on our own. Luckily, our profits from email and SMS helped us make the investments to expand into martech and other emerging markets.
We had missed a few turns in the industry – we should have woken up to the opportunity of B2B SaaS earlier and reinvented our sales and marketing, we should have focused more on new age app-first companies, we should have focused on consolidation (larger acquisitions) more aggressively, we should have opened our US and Europe offices much earlier than we eventually did. We had fallen behind, lost time and momentum, but luckily had not died. And in business as in life, renewal is possible.
None of the mistakes was fatal. We (led by Kalpit as CEO) took corrective actions – refocused Netcore as a SaaS company, invested in building a full engagement and experience stack rather than being only limited to communications, opened local offices in US and Europe even as we targeted customers in those geographies from India. Two targeted acquisitions brought in new features that B2C companies wanted.
The arrival of the pandemic in 2020 was a shock as we saw business drop sharply in the initial months. The future appeared uncertain. I took the Stoic view that there are some things that we cannot control – what we can manage is how we react to them. It was in those months that I started falling in love with Netcore. I know it may sound strange – but till then it was almost like I was bringing up Netcore to one day sell, and then move on to other things. The time at home in 2020 which gave me lot of time to read and think, the conversations with CMOs for the Velvet Rope Marketing ideas, and the starting of the blog which helped me look back at my past life as an entrepreneur – all played a part in helping me decide on Netcore’s future.
Was I building to sell or building to last? That decision became clear to me as I started reading Jim Collins’ books. I was an entrepreneur at heart, a business holder. In Netcore, we had done all the hard work in laying the foundation – a wonderful and resilient team and an amazing roster of happy customers. We had survived through many mistakes. Now was not the time to give up and exit. It was time to think big and long, but without giving up on the profitable core that had ensured we did not die through the past couple decades. It was time to take the advice that I was giving marketers and apply it to Netcore: build a business with exponential forever profitable growth.