In recent years, we have seen the rise of Indian entrepreneurs who have founded some of the most innovative startups. While many of these stories are well-known, others remain unknown and underappreciated.
Do you know the success story of Zoho, a bootstrapped startup?
Bootstrapping is the process of starting and running a business with only personal funds or operating revenue.
Zoho Corporation is a multinational technology company headquartered in India that develops computer software and web-based business tools. It was founded by Sridhar Vembu and Tony Thomas in 1996. It is most well-known for its online office package, the Zoho Office package. It now has a presence with offices across the globe. It is headquartered in Austin, Texas with international headquarters in Chennai, India, with offices across the globe. Sridhar Vembu’s sister, Radha Vembu, owns the majority of the business and today Zoho offers over 55+ software products. Zoho’s tagline is “Made in India. Made for the world”
Zoho Startup Story
Sridhar Vembu, along with his two brothers, Kumar and Sekhar Vembu, and Tony Thomas, founded Zoho. Tony was introduced to Sridhar’s brothers who were working from Chennai, and it was through their cooperation that the SNMP (Simple Network Management Protocol) protocol software came to be. In the beginning, Tony served as the CEO, and Sridhar Vembu—who worked as a wireless engineer for Qualcomm in California before departing in 1996—was primarily a supporting figure in the story.
Simple Network Management Protocol (SNMP) is an application-layer protocol for monitoring and managing network devices on a local area network (LAN) or wide area network (WAN).
- Meanwhile, Tony tried to sell this software at the Las Vegas trade show and asked Sridhar to join him but both of them knew nothing about sales. Hence, Sridhar decided to give it a go and printed a bunch of Business cards and arrived at the show, with his rusty sales skills he was able to make some sales for them and that’s how Sridhar became the first Sales Person.
- Zoho was formerly known as Advent Network Management Inc., a provider of network management solutions. In the starting, it got difficult for Zoho to onboard employees from Ivy League schools, so Sridhar decided to recruit some young engineers from a few premium colleges and also provided special training to the employees who were amateurs and college dropouts to make them efficient at coding and programming.
- By the end of 1997 they crossed $350K in sales, but instead of paying themself the management chose to reinvest all of their revenues in the development of Web NMS, and WebNMS became their first product. By 1998 when their sales exceeded $1 million they began paying themselves and in 2000 they reached $10 million in revenue and Thomas left the position of CEO in 2000 to Sridhar Vembu, who became responsible for the company’s incredible growth and Sridhar was named CEO of the business. In 2000, they also had an interested investor who was ready to put down millions of dollars in the company, but Sridhar turn it down, that’s why, he is also well known for rejecting venture capital financing and he is an inspiration to all business owners who want to build successful, bootstrapped businesses. Also recently, on the occasion of India’s 72nd Republic Day (2021), Sridhar Vembu became the recipient of the prestigious Padma Shri.
- By June 2001, they had expanded their operations in Japan and shifted their focus to small and medium-sized businesses, but the 2001 dot-com bubble burst dealt the company a huge blow. By 2002, their customer base had plummeted dramatically, however, the AdventNet managed to survive the storm without any helper. After this, a new problem came in and their WebNMS Product reached market saturation, so they knew it is the right time to pivot, but this time they knew how to build the product and how to sell it. So they started to build their next product called Manage Engine, which can help the companies in managing all IT operations and by 2003 they launched Manage Engine and many companies started using it, out of which, 60% had its name in the Fortune 500 list then.
The dotcom bubble burst was a shock event that resulted in massive sell-offs of stocks, as demand waned and restrictions on venture financing increased the rate of the downturn.
- In 2005 after the success of the Manage engine, they decided to add another wing Zoho Corp and as they were better at building products, they launched Zoho Writer, Zoho Sheets, and Zoho Docs, but in 2005 Google also entered the space with google docs and sheets and they knew that it will be hard to compete with google so they shifted to Zoho CRM and launched it. They also established Zoho schools back in 2005, in which, they used to train people without any charge, instead, they used to pay them for learning, and as of now more than 1400 students are graduated from Zoho Schools.
- In 2009, AdventNet changed its name to Zoho, as they used to target small offices and Home offices, therefore, they decided to keep the domain name “SOHO” to form Soho.com, but that domain name was not available so they finally decided to name it Zoho and this is how they were named. They also divided work into three divisions, i.e., Manage Engine, WebNMS, and Zoho university.
- By 2015, they ramped their business to more than 25 products, and as of now they have 12K+ employees with 80M+ users and 55+ products and they have served more than 150+ countries.
Growth and Revenue of Zoho
|Revenue||Rs 5,442.4 Cr||Rs 4,385.9 Cr||Rs 3,410.7 Cr|
|Expenses||3,024.1 Cr||Rs 3,369.7 Cr||Rs 2,885 Cr|
|Profit/Loss||Profit of 1,917 Cr||Profit of Rs 800.8 Cr||Profit of Rs 515.8 Cr|
Products of Zoho
Presently Zoho offers over 55 products in almost every sector like Sales, Finance, Marketing, Communication, HR, etc.
Here are some of the widely used products of Zoho:
1. Zoho products for Sales:
- Zoho CRM:
It is an award-winning CRM that is used by over 2,50,000 businesses in 180 nations to convert more leads, engage customers, and increase revenue. Zoho CRM serves as a single repository for your Sales, Marketing, and Customer Support Operations, as well as a platform for streamlining your 3 p’s- Processes, Policies, and People.
- Zoho Sales IQ:
This platform analyzes customer behaviour and uses the resulting data to improve marketing and sales campaigns. It is a top-tier live chat support and website monitoring tool with real-time traffic monitoring. Additionally, it enables companies to react to client inquiries quickly, which increases lead conversions. It can display a range of information, including client location, frequency of visits, and website behaviour.
- Some other sales-related tools are Zoho Forms, Bigin, Thrive, etc.
2. Zoho products for Marketing:
- Zoho Social:
It is a clever social media management tool made to assist companies in leveraging social networks. This platform can accelerate business development by helping organizations to connect with the right audience and establish a stronger online presence. You can do multiple-channel marketing with the help of Zoho Social.
- Some other marketing-related tools are Zoho surveys, Zoho campaigns, Zoho backstage, etc.
3. Zoho products for Finance:
- Zoho Books:
The financial aspects of any company can be managed using this online accounting solution. It can manage bills, invoices, finance, inventory, and even mobile bookkeeping with ease. Small business owners can better organize their finances with the aid of this user-friendly accounting software, which is available in over 10 languages and can work on any device or operating system. These languages include English, German, and Japanese.
- Some other Finance-related tools are Zoho Invoices, Zoho Expenses, Zoho Payroll, etc.
4. Zoho products for HR:
- Zoho Recruit:
It is a leading recruitment management platform and applicant tracking system created for Start-ups and SMBs. It is a multi-awarded solution, mainly due to its user-friendly dashboard and a great range of customizable functionalities with the help of this tool you can streamline your hiring activities and it can help you in posting job openings easily also you can publish it in your careers portal as well as on job boards with just one click.
- Zoho People:
This cloud-based HR software can assist you in accurately tracking work hours and attendance as well as converting time into timesheets. It also keeps a track of your leaves. It is designed to support employees and make HR administration agile and effective.
- Some other HR-related Zoho tools are Zoho Workerly, Zoho Shifs, etc.
Key learnings from the Zoho story
If we summarize the whole article, it is rightly said that everyone learns from their own journey more than any advice, suggestion, or anyone’s opinion. Your life is your best teacher which turns out to be true in the case of businesses as well and it would not be wrong if we say that your business is your best teacher in the corporate world. It is not always true that if your career includes the involvement of big business schools, only then you prove your worth in your business, as long as you know and understand how to practice business in the real world, you can always come up as a winner!
We should also keep in mind that keeping customers’ needs in mind while expanding the business should be of utmost priority and keeping a firm belief in your employee’s talents should also be an important part of your business rules. It is therefore recommended to be consistent in your business, believe in what you started and why you started, have a clear vision throughout your journey, and be confident. You will definitely shine as bright as a star because no efforts that have true intentions and excellent execution have ever gone into vain.
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