Zoho's Rise from 0 Funding: Sridhar Vembu’s Journey of Making 8700 cr Company

Sridhar Vembu's journey from a humble village in Tamil Nadu to founding Zoho Corporation is a story of resilience and innovation. He built a billion-dollar software company and inspired entrepreneurs globally by proving that passion and perseverance can overcome any obstacle. let's find out how a village man, made a company like ZOHO.

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Shridhar Vembu Education and Early Life

Sridhar was born in 1968 in a small village in the Thanjavur district of Tamil Nadu. Despite his modest beginnings, Vembu’s academic prowess was evident early on. He secured an incredible 27th rank in the prestigious IIT JEE, which earned him a place at IIT Madras. He pursued a degree in Electrical Engineering. Following his undergraduate studies, he furthered his education with a Ph.D. from Princeton University.

Professional Beginnings

In 1994, Vembu joined Qualcomm as a wireless systems engineer in San Diego, California. Despite the promising career and high-paying job, he was missing something in his life. he wanted to start something of his own, It was a calling towards entrepreneurship. This drive led him to leave Qualcomm. 

Shridhar Entrepreneurial Journey

Along with his brothers, he started AdventNet in 1996. Their vision was clear: to revolutionize the software industry. AdventNet’s initial focus was on developing networking software. Their first product, Web NMS, was designed to help businesses manage operations digitally. 

This product garnered significant attention, especially after outperforming major competitors like HP at a US tech fair. By 1998, AdventNet’s sales reached 6 crore INR, and by 2000, they had secured their first major client, Cisco, which pushed their sales to 50 crore INR. Everything was going smoothly until the year 2000. 

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The early 2000s presented unforeseen challenges. The dot-com crash in 2001 dramatically reduced AdventNet’s customer base from 150 to just 3. Despite these setbacks, Sridhar Vembu stands with resilience. He turned down offers to sell the company and believed firmly in its potential. 

Shridhar had saved cash from the profits that he made earlier. Instead of selling, he used the company’s cash reserves to pay his employees, foregoing his salary for four years. He had not even fired any employee.

During this period, AdventNet pivoted to create ManageEngine, an IT management tool for mid-sized companies. This strategic move paid off, with ManageEngine becoming a success and being adopted by 60% of Fortune 500 companies.

The Birth of Zoho Corporation

In a transformative move, Vembu acquired the domain name “Zoho” from a defunct hospitality company. This marked a new beginning. In 2005, Zoho CRM was launched, which quickly gained popularity. By 2008, it had amassed 1 million users. The company formally rebranded to Zoho Corporation in 2009 and expanded its product offerings significantly.

Zoho's innovative approach, offering high-quality software at a fraction of the cost of competitors like Salesforce, a game-changer. Despite multiple acquisition offers from giants like Salesforce, Vembu chose to keep Zoho independent, focusing on long-term growth and self-sufficiency and made it a successful company.

By 2021, Zoho had become a billion-dollar company by revenue and achieved 5230 crore INR. The company continued to thrive during the COVID-19 pandemic, with revenues soaring to 6711 crore INR and profits of 1918 crore INR. 

Also Read: Anil Gupta: A Journey of Entrepreneurial Vision, Education, Struggle, and Success

Shridhar Vembu's Personal Life and Values

Despite his monumental success, Sridhar Vembu remains grounded. He lives in a village in Thanjavur and is often seen riding his bicycle. His commitment to social entrepreneurship and rural development is evident through initiatives like the Zoho Schools of Learning and the Zoho Rural Schools Program. These projects aim to bridge the digital divide and provide education and job opportunities to underprivileged communities.

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Sridhar Vembu’s contributions to technology and society have earned him numerous accolades, including the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2019), the Padma Shri (2021), and recognition as the CNN-News18 Indian of the Year (2022).

What is the net worth of Sridhar Vembu?

According to some articles and reports, Sridhar Vembu net worth is around Rs 39,000 crore.  As of today, Zoho has a revenue of 8700 CR with a profit of 2800 CR and it is one of the world's largest software companies.


Sridhar Vembu’s story is a testament to the power of resilience, innovation, and unwavering commitment to values. From a small village in Tamil Nadu to leading one of the world’s largest software companies, his journey is an inspiration to aspiring entrepreneurs globally.

Also Read: Journey of Harini Sivakumar: A homemaker who made 200 crore company Earth Rhythm