Bootstrapping Its Way: From AdventNet To Zoho – Read the Success Story of Sridhar Vembu
There are two types of people in this world. Ones who spot a problem in every situation, and then come to the the ones who spot solutions in the same situation. Well, if you are someone who aspires to create history with your actions, you must be knowing which category you must opt for.
Back in the mid-1990s, there was a man who sensed an opportunity. Rather than ranting over the loopholes, he chose to come up with a solution. Today that same man, Sridhar Vembu, doesn’t need any introduction. His software programs are harnessed all across India and overseas.
So, without any further adieu, let’s dive into the success story of Sridhar Vembu.
EARLY DAYS OF SRIDHAR VEMBU
Sridhar hailed from a middle-class family in Chennai. His father was a stenographer in High Court and his mother was a homemaker. He did his schooling from Tamil medium government school. Post that, he did his graduation from IIT Madras followed by PhD in Electrical Engineering. Back then, Sridhar aspired to become a professor and had already published mathematical papers as well. Later on, he realized that he is inclined towards doing something more practical. He felt publishing research papers would not remain relevant after a certain period of time.
INITIAL BEGINNINGS: ADVENTNET
In 1995, Sridhar observed that India entails tons of software engineers but then why it is not having tons of software programs?
This simple observation led Sridhar along with his brothers and one of his seniors, Tony Thomas to start building software applications. They commenced their first venture, “AdventNet” from a small apartment located in Chennai in 1996.
Right from the beginning, the venture was outright bootstrapped without any sort of external investment. At the initial phase, Tony Thomas acted as CEO and Chairman of the company. Sridhar was working in the capacity of Chief Evangelist, emphasizing marketing, and peddling the software packages.
They started getting clients in a short span of time. Cisco was one of their initial clients. By the end of 2000, their team grew to around 120 engineers along with a handful number of people in the USA. They cloaked a total revenue of approximately $10 million.
However in 2001, when Sridhar just took over the company as CEO, the venture encountered a bubble burst. The majority of networking businesses saw a major downfall. Nonetheless, Sridhar spotted a new opportunity during that phase despite getting disheartened. They decided to diversify their offerings.
Hence, they converted their network management model, “Order Equipment Manufacturer” into the “Enterprise Model”. It further led to the advent of “ManageEngine“. Its unique Enterprise Model enables organizations to streamline their operations with artificial intelligence and powerful analytical tools.
Besides that, they deployed engineers to fulfil their on-demand efforts. That’s how Zoho came into the picture which offers companies a wide range of products. Some of them include Sales & Marketing, HR & Finance, e-mail & collaboration, and IT & helpdesk.
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ADVENT OF ZOHO
After two years, Tony Thomas took an exit from the company to kick off another venture. Thereafter, Sridhar revolutionized the entire functioning of the firm from bringing customers on-board to starting out their first informal university by the name of Zoho University.
The intent behind commencing the university was very simple and coherent. Sridhar wished to hire disregarded young professionals having a lack of degrees. The university trains the students for a period of nine months to make them well equipped with practical work. Later on, they offer them employment in the company itself.
By 2009, the company changed its name from AdventNet to Zoho Corporation. Moreover, it served numerous businesses for rented software programs instead of buying licenses of expensive software packages. That was the initial phase of Sridhar Vembu’s success.
MAJOR DIMENSIONS OF ZOHO
Over a period of time, Zoho Corporation diversified its services and evolved into three divisions. They are Zoho.com, WebNMS, and Manage Engine.
TO UNDERSTAND THESE DIVISIONS, LET’S TAKE A BRIEF LOOK AT THEM
Zoho provides customized SAAS products including tools. For instance, CRM, sales, campaigns, mail, chat, docs, connect, creator, app creator, reports, books, inventory, invoice, support, service desk plus, recruit, etc., to assist the company in managing its operations running on various domains.
Manageengine provides its services with economical software programs that are easy to comprehend and can be used by anyone. Some of their products include analytics, help desk cloud, application, active directory, etc.
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WEBNMS offers tailored solutions to multi-vendor network management. Their services include telco network solutions, service applications, symphony platform, etc.
Being a suite of online services, a person can use the applications by signing up. While some applications are free for individuals, others have some subscription fees. In other words, the vision of the company is to offer the most diversified and comprehensive set of applications, that too at affordable prices.
The company has been coming up with cutting edge technology serving millions of customers worldwide. The company holds branches in countries like Singapore, Japan, the USA, and China besides India.
Additionally, Zoho ensures the utmost security of the data of its clients. Every single user information is stored online and can be accessed anytime. All a user needs is a good internet connection and one can access the concerned data from any device. Furthermore, Zoho enables its users to collaborate their projects in real-time and share information with just a simple click.
MAINTAINING THE BOOTSTRAP CULTURE
With the sight of Zoho growing at such a rapid pace, Salesforce CEO, Marc Benioff deliberately longed to buy the company. Reason being, Zoho manages to offer the same product at $10-15 which Salesforce offers at $60-70. Sridhar, being very particular about his business ethics, had politely turned down the offer.
Not only that, like Marc, but many venture capitalists had also approached Sridhar to invest in his company. However, he has been very resolute in running the company on bootstrapping itself.
Additionally, Sridhar inherited this value from his parents. “If you don’t have the money for something, don’t buy it. Never borrow money”, Sridhar pointed out in an interview. Following this discipline, Sridhar has till now rejected all the external funding offered to his company.
Certainly, Zoho has made it possible to bring a wide range of online services, all in one place. Above all, it maintains a vision to keep its application cost-effective at the same time. Zoho continuously strives to innovate and capitalize on new ways to solve problems confronted by organizations. Most importantly, this bootstrapping venture is constantly coming up with ways to make online working culture as rewarding as it can get.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/6″][/vc_column][/vc_row]