[TechSparks 2020] 1,000 Zoho heroes, 1,000 new startups: Sridhar Vembu on growing the ecosystem and creating jobs
It takes a village to raise a child, says an old African proverb.
It's the same with startups. No one can do it alone. Sridhar Vembu, Founder and CEO of Chennai-based SaaS giant Zoho, agrees whole heartedly.
Stating that Zoho was not built by him alone, he said “a 1,000 heroes” have helped in making the bootstrapped unicorn what it is today and these people have the potential to build a 1,000 more startups.
Addressing the audience at YourStory’s flagship event, TechSparks 2020, which has gone virtual for its 11th edition, Sridhar said, “There are a 1,000 heroes and you will probably get to know them only when they start their own companies.”
The CEO said managers of the SaaS company had the capability to become CEOs of their own companies, and that this "helps in building a good quality product".
Sridhar Vembu, Founder and CEO of Chennai-based Zoho, speaks with Shradha Sharma, Founder and CEO of YourStory, at TechSparks 2020.
Lay a strong tech foundation
Speaking at the online event, Sridhar highlighted that innovators needed to focus on building foundational technology to create great companies.
“We have a lot of startups now. Twenty years ago, none of these existed. For truly great companies, we have built a great ecosystem, but also have to work towards building foundational technology. India needs expertise in technology to be an advanced nation to support our growing population,” he said.
He added that in the next 20 years, the ecosystem will move towards deep technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning etc, and that Zoho was also focusing on moving deeper into the tech stack.
Create your own playbook
Speaking about talent and opportunities, Sridhar said the majority of the talent pool working in metro cities are generally not native to those cities; they come from small towns and rural areas.
“We have to build companies from the ground up - so rather than bringing people to the cities to build tech, we have to take the tech to them to help them build it up,” he said.
The founder also advised aspiring entrepreneurs to create their own playbook and build specific context to define their culture. He emphasised the importance of building their own product and engineering cultures.
“I studied in Japan and in Silicon Valley, and also know Indian culture. I borrowed from Indian, Japanese, and Silicon Valley culture and stitched something together from all three,” Sridhar said.
The hallmarks of Indian culture are contentment and humility. "We have to develop knowledge, and humility is absolutely essential for that,” Sridhar said.
TechSparks - YourStory's annual flagship event - has been India's largest and most important technology, innovation, and entrepreneurship summit for over a decade, bringing together entrepreneurs, policymakers, technologists, investors, mentors, and business leaders for stories, conversations, collaborations, and connections that matter. As TechSparks 2020 goes all virtual and global in its 11th edition, we want to thank you for the tremendous support we've received from all of you throughout our journey and give a huge shoutout to our sponsors of TechSparks 2020.