The next four years after I sold IndiaWorld were very disappointing from a results point of view. I spent a year at Sify and after that went back to managing Netcore, a company that had been set up in 1998 to focus on enterprise messaging solutions. I tried many different things as I have documented on my blog over this period. From our thin client software solution (Emergic Freedom) to an all-in-one open-source based small business software (Pragatee) to an IMAP-based RSS Aggregator to a Digital Dashboard to a blog search and analytics site (BlogStreet) to trying a create Lego blocks for business software (Visual Biz-ic) to grid computing to rural infrastructure and services, there was very limited market success for each of them. Some products did not even go beyond the development stage. It was a tough period.
There was one promise I had made to myself after the sale of IndiaWorld. The past was history, and I had to look ahead. I did not want to sit on the laurels of that single success. I happened to then be at the right time at the right place (benefiting from some smart foresight). I could not take that one success to mean that everything I tried would necessarily work. In fact, the initial failures had chastened me and made me realise that success and failure are two sides of the same coin.
For a brief period, I toyed with the idea of not being an entrepreneur, but instead setting up a venture capital and investing in other people’s businesses. A few months later, I decided that it was not what I liked at all. I actually liked the challenges of managing a business that was part of being an entrepreneur. Experience had taught me that bad times don’t necessarily last and good times are few and far between. But it is the daily thrill of facing up to challenges and finding paths around them that I liked. Failure was not alien to me. But I did not want it to be my constant companion!
Many people remark to me that it must be wonderful to have all that money (which I got from selling IndiaWorld). For me, money never was an end goal. Money has to be an instrument to bring about change, or more specifically, make the future come alive. For me, money gave me the freedom to experiment and live even more in the future. If I start thinking about money, I’ll probably never end up doing anything else in life. For me, ideas matters more than money. I don’t like businesses which need lots of capital. I like to look at blue oceans and think up things that haven’t been thought of before. The single success of the past gave me the freedom to do all this without having to worry about criticism of my business capability from the extended family (as my father had to in the period after I returned from the US).
The four years from 2000 to 2004 were tough. Almost nothing that I tried worked. But I never stopped trying and reading, thinking and writing. It was in November 2000 that I started the Tech Talk series first on Samachar.com, and then also on my blog. It gave me a reason to sustain my reading, broaden the thinking, and share my thoughts through my writing. It also helped me build a framework for the opportunities in the future.
TECH TALK 15 Years as an Entrepreneur+T