In some respects, web design and IT expert Netclues presents a conundrum: With offices in Canada, India and Malaysia, the sliver of Caribbean real estate that is the Cayman Islands seems an incongruous location.
But founder Kartik Mehta has lived in Cayman for 15 years, and founded Netclues in 2008.
“We realized that there was a great need for giving exposure to the businesses on island, and by exposure I mean to put businesses out there in the global market with a unique identity-and-branding website,” he says.
By all accounts, Netclues’s success has been breathtaking. From a near-cliche storybook “humble beginnings” in a 200-square-foot office in his George Town home, Mehta, his four-member staff – including brother Jay – and Netclues now occupies 10 times that space in Industrial Park’s Mirco Centre – and globally boasts 120 employees.
The client list runs to nine pages – at 30 entries per page. If tomorrow the company sank beneath the sea, nearly every business in Cayman would be bereft of a website, a designer, a maintenance technician and an IT adviser.
A random sample of the company’s business-to-business work includes Fidelity Bank, The Security Centre Ltd, CUC, CIREBA, The Church of God Chapel, The International College of the Cayman Islands, Endless Energy, and VAMPT Motors. Even the business that is singer Andrea Rivera has a website.
The array is top-heavy with private enterprise – retail, financial services, private schools, restaurants and bars, real estate brokers and law firms. At the same time, however, listings also include quasi-government entities such as the National Roads Authority, the Water Authority-Cayman, CINICO, the Auditor General, the Complaints Commissioner, the Information and Communications Technology Authority, the Turtle Farm and Cayman Airways.
And those are just clients in the Cayman Islands. Mehta has done work for companies in the Turks and Caicos Islands, Brazil, Canada, the U.S., the U.K. and India.
“With the Internet doing wonders elsewhere in the world, we knew it wasn’t going to be long before it took over all the processes here on island,” he says. “We got hold of a niche and we worked with it; we took our chances and those chances paid off.
“Another advantage of being here, which any business here cannot deny, is that it helps a lot since Cayman is an upcoming market and is tax free.”
Most of Netclues’s work is B2B, and although Mehta has private clients, he declines to separate or enumerate them: “We do business with private and corporate clients alike. Sometimes our corporate clients become our private clients, and sometimes our private clients become our corporate clients.”
“We don’t like to differentiate … Every client is a client right?” he asks. “To us, the needs and urgency of a private client or a small business are as important as a corporate client. We make sure that all our clients get the same level of quality and professional work – and within the time line that we decide.
“We give our clients personalized attention and we are extremely passionate about our services. We don’t sleep if a website goes down for even an hour,” he says.
Apparently, the formula works: More than 350 local clients complement more than 600 globally, Mehta says.
“For the past eight years we have been constantly trying to push local businesses – no matter big or small – to the forefront and help them get noticed.”
Mehta’s website lists 12 broad areas of service beyond website development. Mobile applications involve interfaces and back-end management with iOS, Android, Blackberry, Symbian and Windows operating systems; tailored content management services use open-source platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and X-Cart; web-hosting and maintenance preserves security, usability and functionality; customer relationship management systems promise efficiency and improved retention. Custom-built software; e-commerce and graphic design also feature – and that is only half the list.
“We are a full-fledged branding company,” Mehta says. His B2B efforts “range from logo design, graphic services, website design and development, online marketing, software development, mobile application development and more.
Netclues offers more B2B services through online advice and even public lectures such as June’s two-day Multiple Listing System training course for real estate brokers. A Netclues blog offers a seven-point program on “Best Ways to Monetize Your Business,” suggesting webinars, links to affiliated businesses, and creation of premium content and digital products boosting page views.
Branding, marketing, graphic design and the scramble for “clicks” are the visible, sexy end of the business, colorful, noisy and designed to attract attention. The other side of that coin, however, quiet and crucial, is cybersecurity … “and it’s not always money or credit card information that you are trying to protect, Mehta cautions.
“It can be something as simple as information … When we work on a website, the process is very stringent,” but presents challenges that must be balanced. A website must be not only user friendly, but search engine friendly … and secure.
“Any website is tried and tested in our Quality Assurance Department for at least a week where we try to test the website in every way possible, be it security, online marketing, search engine optimization, payment gateways etc.,” he said.
“We try to find as many and as in-depth loopholes as we can so that the website is 100 percent proofed for content, working and secure before it goes to the client for final testing.
“We do not outsource any of our work. All the work is done in-house, so also you have the security of your information being inside one premise at all times.”
Meta finishes by reflecting on the myriad relationships Netclues has cultivated, and which keep it healthy. “I strongly feel it’s the relationships we build and the local/global experience we carry. No client leaves us and we don’t leave our clients,” he says.
“A very positive thing about people here is that no matter how big a company someone runs or how important a job someone does, they still do not forget their roots. They are still grounded. This I think is something which has kept me in this place.”