Sridhar Vembu is someone who saw an opportunity in a problem and built a business out of it. He started a new line of service, Customer Relationship Management, in 1996 under ZOHO Corporation and made it big. So big that today it has over 10 million users and more than Rs. 480 Crores in revenues.
The catch: Zoho Corporation grew big bootstrapping itself, without any VC funding. Today, it is one of the most successful Indian startups ever with an acquisition offer from CRM giant Salesforce.
Global Indian: Chennai – Sridhar Vembu
Sridhar Vembu hails from Chennai, India, with an electrical engineering degree from IIT Madras and a doctorate from Princeton University. He’s worked with Qualcomm for 2 years before starting out on his own in Silicon Valley.
The ZOHO entrepreneur is known for his tough decision making and bold steps in the software industry. The company which started in 1996 had a $200 million funding offer in 2000, but the terms of the contract were not really pleasing. So he decided to bootstrap instead and not take the VC funding. It’s been 18 years since inception, Zoho has no VC funding till date. The company is privately owned even today.
Global Indian: Chennai – Sridhar Vembu in Media
Despite all the success and growth he has achieved, he remains grounded. Economic Times quoted Vivek Wadhwa, an Indian American technology entrepreneur and academic, saying, “But here is the problem with Sridhar: he is too low key. He has not done what the arrogant brats of Silicon Valley do by hyping his accomplishments and getting drunk on success, He has maintained his modesty and humility and that is why I respect him so much.”
The ET article also quotes Kumar Vembu, younger brother of Sridhar Vembu, saying, “Even when he was 8 years old, he would always win. He will do what it takes to win, gives it his 120 per cent.”
Forbes refers Sridhar as the Smartest Unknown Indian Entrepreneur. His company Zoho Corporation is now competing with Google and Microsoft in office space, thus making him more popular in the Silicon Valley.
Lesson for Entrepreneurs From Sridhar Vembu
Not every startup is successful and not every entrepreneur either. It takes determination and perseverance to succeed. And this is exactly what Sridhar Vembu has proved throughout his career. Right from introducing a new product line in the market to going against VC funding in 2000, and declining an offer from Salesforce. He has done it all.
In his interview to YourStory, he said, “Don’t settle for anything lesser than the best. Always make products that are the best in the world and anything other than this is a recipe for mediocrity.”
An important lesson for entrepreneurs is that bootstrapping too can grow your business, and it’s not always the VC funding that lets you spread your wings. A line for an Urdu couplet sums it all – “Hum paroun se nahi, housloun se udte hain,” which means, “we fly not with wings, but with courage.”
News Source: Economic Times, YourStory
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