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Zoho's winning formula

Sridhar Vembu's Zoho is evidence of how entrepreneurship can have a direct social impact

Sourav Majumdar
Published: May 27, 2016 06:18:37 AM IST
Updated: Oct 3, 2016 11:00:52 PM IST

At a time when there is so much debate on valuations and their markdowns, a story like Zoho Corp’s seems almost unreal. Sridhar Vembu, 48, who famously turned down venture funding fairly early in his entrepreneurial journey and has never entertained external investors, has built a global software-as- a-service (SaaS) company which today has over 18 million users in 122 countries. “If you take money, you have to necessarily make some compromises,” Vembu tells Forbes India’s Editor (Technology) Harichandan Arakali, who has written the cover story on this remarkable entrepreneur.

Zoho's winning formula
The Zoho vision is to essentially be the operating system of choice for business. And this focus has paid Zoho rich dividends and made it a global corporation which, Vembu claims, has revenue per employee which is twice that of Infosys. But the Zoho way is not just restricted to the exciting company which it has become. Its fiercely entrepreneurial culture, in which youngsters are chosen as early as Class 12 and given a chance to flourish in the world of business, has spawned a number of talented entrepreneurs who are products of the Zoho ecosystem. Among them are names like Girish Matrubootham, founder of Freshdesk, the startup which redefines the concept of helpdesks. By betting on young talent, which otherwise may not have had the chance of working in large companies, Zoho is also evidence of how entrepreneurship can have a direct social impact.

This issue also carries the Forbes list of the world’s most influential money mavens, the Money Masters, who have successfully negotiated the rough and tumble of high finance and control trillions of dollars between them. The 40 men and women you will read about in this section are drawn from the world of banking, hedge funds and private equity and are picked on the basis of net worth, assets under management or overseen, three-year track records and influence on markets. The lone representative from India on this power list is Uday Kotak, boss of Kotak Mahindra Bank, and winner of the 2015 Forbes India Leadership Award for Entrepreneur for the Year.

As the Narendra Modi-government completes two years in power, we also bring you a special package on one of the government’s key focus areas: Renewable energy. Modi’s star minister Piyush Goyal is pulling out all stops to make the vision for this sector a success. How this plays out will be interesting to watch.

Sourav Majumdar
Editor, Forbes India
Twitter id:@TheSouravM

(This story appears in the 10 June, 2016 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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  • Anand

    Zoho is one of the most innovative and lean startups of India. It needs to be burtured properly and if it is, the possibilities for it are endless. They have a whole suite of products and they are managing it extremely effectively, despite their resource limitations

    on Jun 16, 2016