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How This 20-year-old Company Bootstrapped its Way to Success The founder spends so much of time abroad, despite that they are always connected because of their technology

By Punita Sabharwal

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SRIDHAR VEMBU (49), CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AND FOUNDER, ZOHO

While talking about the use case of Zoho, Vembu gives the example of how his company runs on Zoho's operating system. Vembu says, "All aspects of the business run on Zoho - sales, marketing, back office, HR etc. I spend so much of time abroad in spite of that we are always connected because of technology." Today the company has offices all across the world.

The Zoho story began more than 20 years ago when there were hardly any software product companies in India. Sharing about how the idea began, Vembu says, "It was still a very new concept. We thought given the number of software India uses, there must be a huge opportunity. This was the driving force though the product has evolved over the years." Interestingly when launched, the company was named AdventNet Inc. Zoho was a division which became the company's name in 2010, as it sounded way cool. While tech companies across the world continue to grow on the basis of the funding it receives, Zoho till date has remained a bootstrapped venture. "Initially, Zoho focused more on niche market segments that allowed us to bootstrap ourselves and through customers we reached profitability. We then moved into larger market segments," shares Vembu.

Talking about everyday challenges, Vembu says, "We have common issues like how to find good people, a market or customers." To deal with the talent problem, the enterprise runs Zoho university programmes while relying on traditional hiring strategies. At present, the focus for Vembu is innovation on the product front. It recently launched a voice enabled CRM. In past four months, it launched four different products for Zoho, all of these tapping on innovations.

Currently Zoho serves across geographies including the US, Europe, Thailand, Japan, Australia and the UK. As per Vembu, expanding geographical footprint is one of the main focus areas. Though its biggest market continues to be the US, contributing up to 50 per cent of the revenue. Further, it continues to grow at the rate of 30 per cent year-on-year. Sharing the numbers Sridhar says, "We have well above 250,000 paying customers."

OFFICE ASSISTANT

LAUNCH 1996 in Chennai HEADCOUNT 5,000 USERS 30m globally NO. OF PATENTS 10-15

Punita Sabharwal

Entrepreneur Staff

Managing Editor, Entrepreneur India

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