Netcore celebrated its Annual Day on April 7, 2022, delayed because of Covid. It was a special occasion, in our 25th year. It was a memorable evening of awards and performances. We were meeting in person after a gap of two years. I gave a short speech. Here is a rough transcript.
Netcore began 25 years ago in a 300 square feet office in Fort in South Mumbai with a team of 5 people as a spin-off from IndiaWorld. It was a forced separation because I was having trouble explaining to IndiaWorld investors what a Linux-based mail server provisioning business had in common with a portals business. We moved to Peninsula Chambers in Lower Parel a few years later after IndiaWorld was acquired by Sify.
The early years saw very slow growth; we were stuck at Rs 1 crore revenue for many years. During the first decade of Netcore, I tried multiple ideas: BlogStreet (blog search engine), an RSS-IMAP Aggregator (for consuming feeds), Pragatee (an all-in-one server for small businesses), Emergic Freedom (thin client, thick server to make computing affordable), MyToday SMS (microcontent subscriptions), MyToday.mobi (mobile web portal). All failed and cost us money.
2007 saw an upward shift in our fortunes. The previous 15 years have taken Netcore’s revenues to Rs 660 crore ($88 million) in FY 22. What were the key decisions that made Netcore?
I replaced myself as CEO. Netcore has been led by three professional CEOs who have been the agents of transformation, starting with Abhijit in 2007-11, Girish in 2011-14 and Kalpit 2015 onwards.
Bhavana (my wife) gave me an ultimatum when she saw Netcore losing money in 2008: turn it around or shut down. We made the business profitable in a few months thereafter and have had 15 years of profitable growth since then.
We ended our B2C experiments in the quest for profitability, and focused only on enterprise solutions, starting with SMS and then email.
We added martech in 2015. We expanded to other emerging markets. The early years were difficult but we never gave up, and eventually succeeded.
We also expanded to the US in 2018 and Europe in 2021. We pivoted to becoming a SaaS company in 2019.
Our vision of a full-stack martech platform was enhanced with the acquisitions of Boxx and Hansel in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
In 2022, we made our biggest investment of $100 million in Unbxd, funded entirely after internal accruals.
Many of these were shots in the dark when taken, bullets that later became cannonballs. Taken together, these decisions have brought Netcore close to $100 million in ARR. I wrote about Netcore’s journey recently.