I am Sridhar Vembu, Founder and CEO of Zoho Corp.
I started Vembu Software in a small apartment that was located in a Chennai suburb, Tambaram. The company was later called AdventNet and was re-christened as Zoho in 2005. Today, with three divisions under the Zoho Corp. brand — WebNMS, ManageEngine and Zoho.com, we continue to be privately held and are profitable.
Here are a few things that I swear by and therefore instill in my employees:
Formal education does not decide who you are and want to be – You don’t need a college degree to innovate or succeed in life
Software as a craft – Software is a handicraft; it is created with a craftsmanship-like approach by a small team. While the surrounding might be hi-tech, the process is very human
Technology – I’m a technology optimist and believe that technology can be, and is being, used to solve world’s problems
Freedom – We don’t intend to take venture capital, go for an IPO or be acquired. For us, it’s important to preserve the culture at Zoho – something we have built since day one. We do not wish to give up our freedom — the freedom to innovate, freedom to try out bold new ideas, freedom to fail and learn from our mistakes. In my opinion, freedom is more important than money. In fact, the purpose of money is freedom. We, at Zoho, have the freedom today, so why would we give that up and surrender to the quarter-on-quarter nightmare of goals to be met or to external investors, VCs and PE?
Growth – I believe that growth should not happen at the cost of profitability.
Culture – I believe in having an open culture. Employees have an easy-going fearless approach at work. There are no cabins, no hierarchical seating order – this reduces ego problems
Product companies in India – It’s wonderful to see the number of product companies that have emerged in the last three to four years. It is vital that people learn to be patient, have a long-term approach, create what the market needs and continue to learn during the process. One of the things we had decided early on, is that we wanted to build a product company