When Rene Sugo and Andy Fung started what was to turn into MyNetFone back in 2004, it was just a side idea that was created to help them out with their actual business Symbio Networks. Before they knew it, they had 10,000 customers and thought to themselves, maybe this thing has legs a actual full on operational business – so they focused their resources, continued to do what they do best [create and build software solutions] and the rest they say -is history.
In the early days MyNetFone was losing money for around the first 24 months of operation, they didn’t have the funds to grow the business and so began to look at raising capital “In those days when we started talking to investors, we realised quite quickly that the deals people wanted to do with us, and the deal that we were looking for were not going to match. So we then looked at raising money on the ASX and taking the company public” says Sugo. A massive risk for such a young company, but as Sugo explains – “We knew we had something, we knew our services, the talent in our team and our ability to make great products people wanted, going down the IPO route is one of our proudest achievements, and one of our biggest ever learnings”.
Fast forward 8 years and it is quite obvious that risk paid off – MyNetFone now employ around 90 staff and have revenues in the vicinity of the $40 million dollar mark. They are an Aussie company with small operations that also take care of clients out of New Zealand and Singapore. Their “side venture” has now acquired their original business and the team are fresh celebrating the first government contract win last week, in which they will provide VOIP services to the state govt of Tasmania.
But Sugo still remembers that even though with all this success big mistakes were made that taught both the guys very valuable lessons, “I remember in the early years bing quite naive and going into business with another company with a contract that was not well drafted, after three months we lost customers, and lost money and the worst part was we were really relying on them to provide us with ongoing income”.
Yes indeed, those mistakes that cost you dearly in the short term, are definitely in the long term some of the most profitable mistakes that you can make. When I asked him what he would say to a new business owner in terms of startup advice – again he came back to mistakes, saying the best thing to do is simply acknowledge, realise the lesson being learnt, stop trying to turn around something that can not be saved and move forward.
Speaking of moving forward, the MyNetFone team are in a big way, at the moment they are setting bigger goals to achieve, planning future acquisitions and are continuing to focus in the space in which they are strong. A Startup Success story indeed.