As 2022 makes way for 2023, it is time to look at the year that was and peer ahead to the year that’s coming.
This is a year that will be remembered for the Russia-Ukraine war. TIME magazine named Zelensky as its Person of the Year. A war that Putin probably thought would be over in days has gone on for most of the year – with no end in sight. This is also a year that saw interest in India rise globally. Whether it is the 1.4 billion people market or the China+1 strategy, India is slowly edging its way to becoming relevant – in part driven by its entrepreneurs. 2022 has been a year of what Adam Tooze has called polycrisis. Inflation, interest rates, energy challenges, geopolitical problems, and constant talk of a coming slowdown and recession in the Western countries have all combined to make this a tough year.
For me, 2022 began with Covid and 5 days of precautionary isolation. I had fever for a day and was fine after that. I also tested positive for Covid in August when I had gone to attend a conference in Goa and they mandated a self-test prior to the start; I would never have known otherwise because I didn’t have any symptoms. I ended up staying in a hotel room for a couple days and then returning to Mumbai. While I did not attend the conference, I did get a lot of me-time! While the spectre of Covid was never too far at the start of the year, the world (except perhaps China) is all done with it. No testing, no masks, no social distancing. After two years, we are back to a normal world. And the best indicator is that India’s bureaucrats no longer insist on the Air Suvidha form for those arriving into India!
After almost two years of work from home starting late March 2020, I am back to the office more days than at home. The good news is that hybrid work is actually good work thanks to a home office which I never had till the pandemic struck. In-person meetings and events are back with a bang, with Zoom filling in as needed to enable conversations which earlier may have not happened or would have been delayed.
Travel too has come back in a big way. I made a total of 13 trips during the year – 5 international and 8 domestic. I travelled to the US twice (once on work in May and then on vacation in June). I attended the Mont Pelerin Society conference in Oslo. I was part of Netcore’s customer events in Vietnam and Doha – both as a “substitute” for colleagues who could not make it! The Doha event was a memorable one: Netcore had organised a global customer conference where we also took our customers for a FIFA World Cup pre-quarter final match between Portugal and Switzerland. It was the first such live sporting event in my life. I am not much of a sports fan; yet, the experience of being at the stadium with 83,000 more people was quite something! It was a good match with 7 goals scored; Portugal winning 6-1. We had taken the hospitality package, so we had some of the best seats in the stadium. The time in Doha also showed how a new Middle Eastern destination to rival Dubai is being built. The local travel consisted of two trips each to Palitana and Bangalore, and then to Delhi, Rajasthan, Goa and Gujarat (Shankeshwar). One of the Bangalore trips was for the Unbxd acquisition, a big highlight of the year for Netcore.
Netcore and Martech
For Netcore, this has been a year of continuing growth. We will close FY 23 with over $100 million in revenues (Netcore and Unbxd combined; and factoring in the depreciation of the rupee by 10% against the dollar), despite some slowness in customer spending on martech. While I was hoping to have made progress on the IPO front, that decision has been delayed – I will re-evaluate in early 2023. On the business front, there are many innovations that we are bringing forth, especially around Email 2.0 (AMP) and Loyalty 2.0 (Atomic Rewards). The coming year will have “profits” as the most important driver, and on that front Netcore itself and its products are very well placed. In the presentation I did in Doha, I spoke about how Netcore’s solutions help brands free their ad budgets from the clutches of Big Adtech and cut down on AdWaste which costs the world $200 billion annually.
I did a lot of writing on my new ideas in Martech. Here is a list of the 29 essays I wrote in 2022 in reverse chronological order:
- Email and AI: A Perfect Match
- Digital Marketing and its Discontents and Disruptions
- Solving the $200 Billion AdWaste Problem
- Of Hotlines and Properties
- Gamelets: Rethinking Rewards Redemption
- AMP’s Magic: Coming Soon to Your Email Inbox
- Muniverse Monetisation: How MuCo, Brands and Consumers Benefit
- Marketers: Pay Customers, Not Big Adtech
- Meeting Marketers and Changing Minds
- Crafting Profits: A New Marketing Paradigm
- Can B2C Email Become Free?
- Reimagining Email Ads
- Muniverse: The Making of MuCo
- Reimagining the Email Footer
- The Muniverse: A Brand New World
- MuApp: The Brand-Customer Hotline
- Web3 and India: A Wrong Turn
- The MuCo Future
- Building the Hotline Right
- Hotline: The Crux of the Brand-Customer Relationship
- Extreme Retention = Profit-centric Marketing
- Profit-centric Marketing: Start with Email 2.0 and Loyalty 2.0
- A Tale of Three Conferences
- Loyalty 2.0: How Brands can Tokenise Customer Attention and Data
- Email 2.0: Making Email Cool Again
- Martech 2.0 and Web3: Solving Advertising’s 50% Problem
- Constructing the µniverse
- µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations
- The US B2C Martech Opportunity
In addition, there were many talks and interviews during the year (newest first):
- Email 2.0: Making Email Cool Again [Talk at Email Insider Summit]
- Podcast with Email Geeks
- Email 2.0 Webinar with Forrester
- Talk at Symbiosis (SIDTM) on Martech
- SaaSworthy Interview
- Email 2.0 for FTLOE Thursdays
- LinkedIn [IN]Collab Interview
- Hindu Business Line on Netcore
Entrepreneurship, India and 2023
A continuing theme for me has been on entrepreneurship. There were many conversations through the year:
- Hindu Business Line (article and podcast)
- Economic Times Interview
- SaaSBOOMi Interview
- Forbes India Podcast
- Breakout Growth Podcast
- Alex Theuma of SaaStock
- Best in Class Podcast, by Harish Natayanan
- Latka Magazine (pages 46-50)
- SaaS Founders Podcast
- Interview with Nathan Latka
- Internet and IndiaWorld: Conversation with PCQuest
- Digital Dialogue with Prasad
- Economic Times on Netcore’s Future Plans
- Business Today on my Blog
- Talk at TAB India
- Podcast with 100X Entrepreneur
- Mountain beyond Mountains: Jito Talk
- YourStory on My Entrepreneurial Journey
I also wrote about India and its possible path to freedom and prosperity:
- Solving India’s Income Problem
- A Mont Pelerin Society Conference in Oslo
- A Vietnam Visit
- Har Ghar Lakshmi: Wealth, Women and Web3
- She Will Transform India
- The India That Might Have Been
- The Battle for 2024
- Constructing the Bharatverse
- µniverse and Bharatverse: Web3 Explorations
- UVI: A Blockchain Political Platform
- Nayi Disha: A People’s Pipe for Prosperity
A new series I started towards the end of the year was on My Life System. I have already published 30 posts – with more to come.
Looking ahead, 2023 should see a lot of action. I want to popularise the new marketing ideas and make it the Year of AMP and Atomic Rewards – two solutions which can together deliver 10X and more in conversion outcomes for marketers. AI (especially Generative AI) will need to become a key component of all we do. Our global expansion in Netcore and Unbxd will continue. The IPO decision will be determined as much by marketing conditions as by our own trajectory.
On the personal front, 2023 will see Abhishek go to the US for his undergrad studies and chart his future life. After 18 years of being with him, Bhavana and I will need to adjust to daily life without him. This is going to perhaps be the biggest change for us.
2023 should also see my book on entrepreneurship getting published. Now that I have a very settled pace of blogging (two posts published daily), I am also hoping to learn some new things. More on these tracks during the year.
For now, let’s welcome 2023. Wish you a very Happy New Year!