A dotcom era pioneer in India readies startup for public offer


Rajesh Jain, 54, a pioneer of India’s internet industry, is readying his second startup Netcore Cloud Pvt. for an initial public offer within the next year, fresh after a $100 million acquisition this month.

“We’ve had initial conversations with half-a-dozen bankers and the formal process will start in the next couple of months,” Jain said over a Zoom call discussing the acquisition and the IPO. “We are targeting an IPO within the next nine to 12 months.”

Mumbai-headquartered Netcore is a software-as-a-service, or SaaS, startup that specializes in offering customer communication and engagement solutions to businesses. It bought about a 90% stake in San Mateo, California-based e-commerce search-personalization company Unbxd Inc.

The acquisition would strengthen Netcore’s offerings to its roster of global customers such as Pizza Hut Inc., The Body Shop Inc. and Tommy Hilfiger Corp. The deal would also boost the company’s subscription revenues to $150 million annually within the next 18 months from about $100 million now, Jain said. 

Netcore is IPO-ready as it’s “a large global SaaS company out of India, very profitable and dominates India and emerging markets like Southeast Asia,” said Jain, who holds about a two-third stake in the company. The remainder is owned by employees.

Jain graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and did his Masters from Columbia University. He worked in the U.S. for two years before returning to India to become an entrepreneur. He sold his first startup, IndiaWorld Communications, in one of Asia’s largest internet deals of the dotcom era in 1995. 

IndiaWorld offered news, cricket scores, Bollywood gossip and search services to India’s then-miniscule internet user base. Just before the dotcom bust, it was acquired for $115 million by what is now the Nasdaq-listed communications company Sify Technologies Ltd. 

Netcore, just like IndiaWorld before it, hasn’t taken any venture capital funds.

The SaaS startup has over 5,000 clients globally and sends over 15 billion marketing emails and texts monthly through its software, the company said in its acquisition announcement.

Unbxd is its fourth acquisition and all deals have been funded by internal accruals, the company said. The new acquisition will continue operating as an independent entity, Netcore said.

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