India’s dot-com era pioneer Rajesh Jain prepares IPO for second start-up

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

“We had initial discussions with half a dozen bankers and the formal process will start in the next few months,” Jain said during a Zoom call about the acquisition and initial public offering. “We are targeting an initial public offering within the next nine to 12 months.”

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

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

Netcore is ready for the IPO as it is “a large global SaaS company from India, very profitable and dominates India and emerging markets like Southeast Asia,” said Jain, who has about a two-thirds stake in the company. The rest is owned by the employees.

Jain graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology in Bombay and did his master’s degree at Columbia University. He worked in the US 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 dot-com era in 1995.

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

Netcore, like IndiaWorld before it, has not taken any venture capital funds.

The SaaS startup has more than 5,000 customers worldwide and sends more than 15 billion marketing emails and text messages monthly through its software, the company said in its acquisition announcement.

Unbxd is its fourth acquisition and all deals have been funded by internal build-ups, the company said. The new acquisition will continue to operate as a separate entity, Netcore said.

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