Sridhar Vembu (ZOHO)
- As of December 2020, a global presence across 180 countries, 40+ services, 50 million customers – all these belonged to Zoho. An Indian brand, for the world – This is how Zoho is described in the software industry. The person behind such a big success is Sridhar Vembu.
- Sridhar Vembu hails from Chidhambaranaadhapuram village, near Anaikkarai of Thanjavur district. With a Tamil medium education, he rose through the ranks to IIT, and to receiving a doctorate from Princeton University, America. The questions that kept resounding in his mind during his days of research for his doctorate are what drove him to start Zoho – “Why is India poor? Why are there so few Indian brands that are making it big in the global game?” To answer all these questions, he founded Zoho.
- Most IT companies, be it national or international, recruit top rankers only. NASCOMM says that 75% engineers and 95% graduates have difficulty landing such jobs due to this preference for top ranks. Our country has a good lot of students who have scored good grades in 12th standard but are unable to pursue college education due to financial restraints. Sridhar Vembu started Zoho school to give such students the education they wish. Zoho school teaches coding, and other software related areas. After Zoho school, the students were given a job at Zoho.
- To give urban facilities to rural areas, Abdul Kalam brought in a scheme called ‘PURA’ (Providing Urban Amenities to Rural Areas). By bringing technology to rural areas, we can strengthen the development of the country and ensure an equal base to develop. Zoho is one such enterprise that fulfils this goal. Headquartered out of a village in Tamil Nadu, Zoho has made a great impact on the global market. And this is the advice he gives a lot – “Start your business in a small village or semi-urban areas, so that the town will also grow with you.”
- Zoho is a multi million dollar business. Impressed with its growth, Sales Force made a move to buy Zoho. But Sridhar Vembu refused the deal. Instead, he sold his products at a much lower level than those of Sales Force. For example, Sales Force sold a product at $65. The Zoho alternative of the product cost just $10. Many big investors were ready to invest in Zoho. But Sridhar Vembu refused all such investments saying, “Money is not my goal. I will do my job with full focus and commitment. That’s all I wish for.”
- Sridhar Vembu’s village is a great part of his life. His love for the village is a part that cannot be edited out of his story. When he was a child, his parents had to shift the family to Chennai, for work. Sridhar Vembu refused to leave Tenkasi and said “You can go if you want, I’m not moving anywhere!” His parents somehow pacified him and moved to Chennai. While leaving the village, Sridhar kept a pebble as a memorabilia of his village. This pebble would be there for him whenever he missed his village. Today, he has 2 things that show his fondness for his village – the pebble and Zoho.
- Usually, such a successful businessman is expected to live in the posh urban areas or even in foreign countries. But Sridhar Vembu operates out of Matthalampaarai, near Tenkasi. This is where the global giant is headquartered. Along with operating business, he has also started living there.
- Having brought about such a revolution in the software industry at a global level, Sridhar Vembu is truly a gem in the crown of Tamil Nadu.