A PhD in electrical engineering from Princeton, US, 51-year-old Sridhar started his entrepreneurial journey by co-founding ‘AdventNet’ with his two siblings and three friends in 1996.
Sridhar believed in his vision of creating a software product powerhouse out of India and sensed an opportunity in the Software as a Service (SaaS) space. In 2005, the company started building innovative SaaS solutions under the Zoho brand name and rapidly transformed to become a serious challenger to established global technology giants. Sridhar renamed the company as Zoho Corporation in 2009. The company’s first two installable product lines were WebNMS (1996) and ManageEngine (2003).
Zoho today offers cloud-based business software that comprises a suite of business, collaboration and productivity applications. With over 45 online applications from CRM to mail, office suite, project management, invoicing, email marketing and social media management, it is a strong player in the enterprise software solutions market.
Over the past two decades, Sridhar has successfully spearheaded Zoho towards becoming a growth leader with gains of over 50 million users globally and annual growth rates of 35%-40%.
To compete effectively with technology giants, which had the potential to hire top talent from reputed institutes, Sridhar charted out a radical plan. In 2005, he started an informal university called Zoho University. Instead of hiring engineers from reputed institutes, he focused on hiring young talented individuals after they completed their Class 12 studies from low-income households and trained them to build software products in India for the world. The company is now building a new 375-acre campus in Austin, Texas, which will also house the Zoho University. The company currently operates 10 data centres around the world.
After the US and European Union (the EU), which account for around 45% and 25% revenues, respectively for Zoho, India is now its third largest market contributing 10% to its overall revenue.
Sridhar is often referred to as a ‘classic entrepreneur’ for his bold ideas and enterprise building abilities.