Why failures are intrinsic to my success story

failures

It’s natural to feel like a King when you’re fresh out of grad school, especially when you’ve graduated from one of the best in the world- Columbia University. Bursting with ideas and big dreams after working in the US for a couple of years, I was hungry and ambitious about what I could create.

I returned to India in May 1992 and leapt straight into my first venture, a multimedia database. It did not work out. I then changed my direction and attempted something different, reselling American companies’ software products.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that resulted in nothing too impressive, so I then dipped my toes into setting up Image Workbench, an image processing solution, only to face yet another failure.

No failures feel good, but this succession of failures taught me my first most important lesson: if you want to achieve something big, you must first put aside your ego before you can become even more courageous in your pursuits.

IndiaWorld: My first big success

All feelings at the top of my game were crushed with each failure and unsuccessful business attempt. It was not easy, but I forced myself to take a step back and re-examine the market, my team, and what I could offer to make a difference.

From my time outside of India and the development of the internet, I found an opportunity to bridge the growing information gap between Indians and NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).

Also Read: 15 strategies for a successful acquisition

I recalibrated my team, retaining the best talents and enlisting the help of my wife, Bhavana, to start India’s first internet portal- IndiaWorld. This portal connected Indians worldwide to their home country, providing information on cricket, food, and even personal finance.

It grew to be the most prominent Indian internet platform with Samachar, Khoj, Khel and Bawarchi. Today, when I mention IndiaWorld, many recall how it was one of Asia’s largest internet deals when Satyam Infoway acquired it for US$115 million.

Yet, behind this success, defined by big numbers and impressive figures, was yet another slew of failures, both big and small. People often forget how long it took to get to the stage of the deal.

The acquisition took place in 1999, and IndiaWorld was a venture started in 1995. Over these few years, there were numerous failures, including the shortcomings of eight different portals on the platform. Of course, there were also some big wins, like the success of four outlets, which thankfully more than made up for the multiple failures of the others.

From when I set my heart to experiment with this portal until the ground-breaking deal in 1999, these failures became helpful stepping stones. I just had to keep going, and I knew the setbacks would eventually lead my team and me to the place we had to be at.

I had to go to work every day as usual, not because I wanted to increase the chances of success (it does not necessarily work this way), but more importantly, reduce the odds of failure. This crucial step, though simple, is something that I still firmly believe in and has proven to be true in my journey thus far.

Pivoting into chapter two: Netcore Cloud

The truth is, as an aspiring entrepreneur with your venture and ambitions, it is easy to imagine that the chances of your success will be 70 per cent. Yet, one cannot be more wrong. After so many years, the hard reality is that 99.99 per cent of ventures fail, and one must be prepared to accept this fact.

Today, many would perhaps associate me with Netcore Cloud, a rebranded Netcore Solutions I had started working on IndiaWorld back in 1997.

Also Read: Building blocks of success: How I build GudangAda to become one of Indonesia’s most promising startups

Currently, it is a global martech leader in the technology and SaaS industries, serving over 5000 clients spread across 18 countries, including India, the USA, Germany, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and UAE. It delivers 15+ billion emails and tracks 100+ billion marketing events every month for the world’s top marketers.

However, as the change of name and rebranding of the company suggests, Netcore Cloud had to go through numerous changes and failures to get to where it is today. In just two decades or so, the Internet has shifted rapidly at an unprecedented speed.

Expectations evolve, and consumers have constantly changing needs and wants. Many increasingly want an omnichannel personalised experience with greater engagement with businesses. On the other hand, companies require this to retain their loyal supporters and grow their customer base.

With Netcore Cloud, it was a continuous process of searching and experimenting with solutions that filled the market gaps, which were dynamic and ever-changing.

Netcore Cloud started as a Linux-based mail server provider for enterprises and remained the same for its first decade. Eventually, with the growth of SMS and email, we realised that changes and pivots had to be made to offer different services.

These shifts into a marketing automation platform for Netcore Cloud ensured we stayed relevant. While making these shifts, of course, we experienced failures- ideas for visual dashboards shattered, mobile portals did not work out, and even the experiment to create one of the world’s first blog search engines went down the drain.

Yet, all these incidents of failures through which we learnt what and where we could change and adapt, bringing with us lessons learnt for our future experiments (and successes).

After all this time, I now know that the entire journey of ups and downs is the real reward and not just the final product or the destination (exit). We are unafraid of exploring something new or different with my talented team, even if it fails.

Also Read: These 9 famous startup failures have a lesson for you

What is more important is to observe when things are not working out and make the crucial decision to either try the same ideas again with a different approach or shift into a fresh slate to try again. Pivoting is thus an essential strategy for every business.

Growing as a leader

It is not merely essential to grow your dreams and ideas with a team as an entrepreneur. Perhaps more importantly, one must also grow as a person.

I make it a point to read and reflect often and write my thoughts every day in a blog to help me consolidate all my ideas. Doing so gives me space for further contemplation, and in the long run, it has helped me become a better leader.

Constant reflection was the main reason why Netcore could grow so far, as it was through examining myself that I considered the possibility of switching the leadership in the company. I’m a curious experimenter at heart, always bursting with new ideas that I want to work on, but selling has not exactly been my forte.

This caused a risk in Netcore Cloud’s then business strategy since I inadvertently created mismatched products for the market and our customers. Just because I could lead IndiaWorld to success did not mean I could replicate the same level of success with Netcore Cloud. The context was different, and change was desperately needed.

This was when I had to remind myself of my very first lesson since the start of my entrepreneur journey. I had to set aside my ego to make the best decision for the company. After consulting my friend Rajjat, I made the difficult but necessary choice to step down from the leadership role and brought in external but very talented and experienced leaders to drive the business forward.

We welcomed our first external CEO, Abhijit, which worked out very well. Even today, Netcore Cloud is still led by competent leaders. This switch in leadership has led to a strong foundation for the business structure and is leading the company to become India’s first B2B SaaS IPO by 2022.

After all these years, my success thus far can be traced back to all the failures and obstacles I have had to face, whether they were external or internal. The crushing defeats with consistent losses taught me to keep trying and reevaluate various business strategies in a volatile and changing environment.

Also Read: How to successfully build and run a business with minimum capital

Failing is an incredibly humbling experience. When things are going downhill, it becomes imperative to set aside your ego to achieve the best for your ideas and business and the people you serve, both employees and customers.

I believe no entrepreneur sets out to fail, just as I was at the start of my entrepreneurial journey, but accepting and learning from failure is the key to paving your path to eventual success.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: nexusplexus

The post Why failures are intrinsic to my success story appeared first on e27.

,
failures

It’s natural to feel like a King when you’re fresh out of grad school, especially when you’ve graduated from one of the best in the world- Columbia University. Bursting with ideas and big dreams after working in the US for a couple of years, I was hungry and ambitious about what I could create.

I returned to India in May 1992 and leapt straight into my first venture, a multimedia database. It did not work out. I then changed my direction and attempted something different, reselling American companies’ software products.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, that resulted in nothing too impressive, so I then dipped my toes into setting up Image Workbench, an image processing solution, only to face yet another failure.

No failures feel good, but this succession of failures taught me my first most important lesson: if you want to achieve something big, you must first put aside your ego before you can become even more courageous in your pursuits.

IndiaWorld: My first big success

All feelings at the top of my game were crushed with each failure and unsuccessful business attempt. It was not easy, but I forced myself to take a step back and re-examine the market, my team, and what I could offer to make a difference.

From my time outside of India and the development of the internet, I found an opportunity to bridge the growing information gap between Indians and NRIs (Non-Resident Indians).

Also Read: 15 strategies for a successful acquisition

I recalibrated my team, retaining the best talents and enlisting the help of my wife, Bhavana, to start India’s first internet portal- IndiaWorld. This portal connected Indians worldwide to their home country, providing information on cricket, food, and even personal finance.

It grew to be the most prominent Indian internet platform with Samachar, Khoj, Khel and Bawarchi. Today, when I mention IndiaWorld, many recall how it was one of Asia’s largest internet deals when Satyam Infoway acquired it for US$115 million.

Yet, behind this success, defined by big numbers and impressive figures, was yet another slew of failures, both big and small. People often forget how long it took to get to the stage of the deal.

The acquisition took place in 1999, and IndiaWorld was a venture started in 1995. Over these few years, there were numerous failures, including the shortcomings of eight different portals on the platform. Of course, there were also some big wins, like the success of four outlets, which thankfully more than made up for the multiple failures of the others.

From when I set my heart to experiment with this portal until the ground-breaking deal in 1999, these failures became helpful stepping stones. I just had to keep going, and I knew the setbacks would eventually lead my team and me to the place we had to be at.

I had to go to work every day as usual, not because I wanted to increase the chances of success (it does not necessarily work this way), but more importantly, reduce the odds of failure. This crucial step, though simple, is something that I still firmly believe in and has proven to be true in my journey thus far.

Pivoting into chapter two: Netcore Cloud

The truth is, as an aspiring entrepreneur with your venture and ambitions, it is easy to imagine that the chances of your success will be 70 per cent. Yet, one cannot be more wrong. After so many years, the hard reality is that 99.99 per cent of ventures fail, and one must be prepared to accept this fact.

Today, many would perhaps associate me with Netcore Cloud, a rebranded Netcore Solutions I had started working on IndiaWorld back in 1997.

Also Read: Building blocks of success: How I build GudangAda to become one of Indonesia’s most promising startups

Currently, it is a global martech leader in the technology and SaaS industries, serving over 5000 clients spread across 18 countries, including India, the USA, Germany, Nigeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, and UAE. It delivers 15+ billion emails and tracks 100+ billion marketing events every month for the world’s top marketers.

However, as the change of name and rebranding of the company suggests, Netcore Cloud had to go through numerous changes and failures to get to where it is today. In just two decades or so, the Internet has shifted rapidly at an unprecedented speed.

Expectations evolve, and consumers have constantly changing needs and wants. Many increasingly want an omnichannel personalised experience with greater engagement with businesses. On the other hand, companies require this to retain their loyal supporters and grow their customer base.

With Netcore Cloud, it was a continuous process of searching and experimenting with solutions that filled the market gaps, which were dynamic and ever-changing.

Netcore Cloud started as a Linux-based mail server provider for enterprises and remained the same for its first decade. Eventually, with the growth of SMS and email, we realised that changes and pivots had to be made to offer different services.

These shifts into a marketing automation platform for Netcore Cloud ensured we stayed relevant. While making these shifts, of course, we experienced failures- ideas for visual dashboards shattered, mobile portals did not work out, and even the experiment to create one of the world’s first blog search engines went down the drain.

Yet, all these incidents of failures through which we learnt what and where we could change and adapt, bringing with us lessons learnt for our future experiments (and successes).

After all this time, I now know that the entire journey of ups and downs is the real reward and not just the final product or the destination (exit). We are unafraid of exploring something new or different with my talented team, even if it fails.

Also Read: These 9 famous startup failures have a lesson for you

What is more important is to observe when things are not working out and make the crucial decision to either try the same ideas again with a different approach or shift into a fresh slate to try again. Pivoting is thus an essential strategy for every business.

Growing as a leader

It is not merely essential to grow your dreams and ideas with a team as an entrepreneur. Perhaps more importantly, one must also grow as a person.

I make it a point to read and reflect often and write my thoughts every day in a blog to help me consolidate all my ideas. Doing so gives me space for further contemplation, and in the long run, it has helped me become a better leader.

Constant reflection was the main reason why Netcore could grow so far, as it was through examining myself that I considered the possibility of switching the leadership in the company. I’m a curious experimenter at heart, always bursting with new ideas that I want to work on, but selling has not exactly been my forte.

This caused a risk in Netcore Cloud’s then business strategy since I inadvertently created mismatched products for the market and our customers. Just because I could lead IndiaWorld to success did not mean I could replicate the same level of success with Netcore Cloud. The context was different, and change was desperately needed.

This was when I had to remind myself of my very first lesson since the start of my entrepreneur journey. I had to set aside my ego to make the best decision for the company. After consulting my friend Rajjat, I made the difficult but necessary choice to step down from the leadership role and brought in external but very talented and experienced leaders to drive the business forward.

We welcomed our first external CEO, Abhijit, which worked out very well. Even today, Netcore Cloud is still led by competent leaders. This switch in leadership has led to a strong foundation for the business structure and is leading the company to become India’s first B2B SaaS IPO by 2022.

After all these years, my success thus far can be traced back to all the failures and obstacles I have had to face, whether they were external or internal. The crushing defeats with consistent losses taught me to keep trying and reevaluate various business strategies in a volatile and changing environment.

Also Read: How to successfully build and run a business with minimum capital

Failing is an incredibly humbling experience. When things are going downhill, it becomes imperative to set aside your ego to achieve the best for your ideas and business and the people you serve, both employees and customers.

I believe no entrepreneur sets out to fail, just as I was at the start of my entrepreneurial journey, but accepting and learning from failure is the key to paving your path to eventual success.

Editor’s note: e27 aims to foster thought leadership by publishing views from the community. Share your opinion by submitting an article, video, podcast, or infographic.

Join our e27 Telegram group, FB community, or like the e27 Facebook page

Image credit: nexusplexus

The post Why failures are intrinsic to my success story appeared first on e27.

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