The Inspiring Journey of Sridhar Vembu and Zoho Corporation: From Rural India to Silicon Valley

The Inspiring Journey Of Sridhar Vembu And Zoho Corporation: From Rural India To Silicon Valley
đź“· Sridhar Vembu, the founder of Zoho Corporation, is an inspiration to millions of aspiring entrepreneurs. (Image: Forbes India)

Zoho founder, Sridhar Vembu moved from San Francisco to a village in India in 2019.

In 1996, Sridhar founded AdventNet to make software products. In 2009 he renamed the company to Zoho Corporation. With time his business transitioned from a software company serving network equipment vendors to an online applications provider. From cloud-based customer relationship management (CRM) solutions to inventory management, online accounting, and over 40 apps are credited to Zoho Corp. But what explains the founder’s decision to leave an opulent life in the United States of America for the far off villages of India?

Sridhar Vembu’s childhood, his upbringing and his dream to do something for his motherland never faded from his eyes. He knew he will come back and in 2019 he finally made the decision to move to a village in Tenkasi district 650 km from Chennai.

In an interview with Forbes India, Vembu said, “I always thought that people migrating from villages to cities is not a good idea.” Speaking from his Tenkasi home, he further added, “About a year or two ago, I decided that I want to do something new. I want to go to the smaller villages and set up what I call satellite-connected office centres where 10 to 20 people will work.”

In no time, Zoho started two of its offices in rural India. One in Tenkasi and the other in Renigunta in Andhra Pradesh. His vision is to have over 8,800 India-based employees working out of rural India.

The 53-year-old has been working on his vision of transmigration which is merging urban and rural talent for years now. In 2004, the founders (Sridhar Vembu, his three brothers and three friends) started Zoho University to train students free of cost with skills and abilities. Additionally, the university which is located in Chennai paid a stipend of â‚ą10,000 to its students for a tenure of two years.

“We look for students who have fire in their belly. A degree is not important to us but skills are. We started with six students and two professors and today more than 800 students have graduated from our school and most of them are employed with Zoho Corp,” said Rajendran Dandapani, director of technology, Zoho Corp, who is also Zoho Schools of Learning’s president.

Born to a family of farmers in a village in Tamil Nadu, graduated from IIT Madras and later from Princeton University, New Jersey, Sridhar Vembu’s life reached a full circle when he came back to where he started from INDIA. With a commitment to take his country to new heights, a determination to invest, skill, the untapped potential of rural youth, Sridhar Vembu gives hope to millions of eyes who dream of becoming like him: an entrepreneur, a multi-millionaire and a man with a vision to change.

Zoho Corp has the distinction of being the first software product unicorn. In 2019, the company made ₹516 crore profit on the total revenue of ₹3,410 crores. Forbes valued Vembu’s 88 percent stake at $1.83 billion. The company have nearly 50 million users for its 40 plus apps, the latest being Zoho Remotely.

Vembu’s innovative entrepreneurial journey in rural India has just begun, but he is no alien to the field. This is his ground, his native. A lot is to be expected from the man with a vision and a mission.

We wish him the best and urge the youth of India to look for Zoho University if you have the fire in your belly, and an appetite to learn. This maybe is your opportunity.

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