Jul 26, 2017

Outliers 27: A masterclass from Sridhar Vembu in building a successful company without VC money

In this week's Outliers, Sridhar Vembu tells Pankaj Mishra why he shunned VC money, and why he respects speed limits in growing his company.

BYPankaj Mishra

In today’s fast paced, startup-frenzied world, Zoho cofounder Sridhar Vembu is clearly an Outlier — he believes in “slow laddering” or building a company slowly, one step at a time. And to top that, he’s even shunned the venture capital monies and said “no” to an over $25 million acquisition offer from Salesforce.com during the early days of Zoho. Zoho offers a cloud software suite and SaaS applications for businesses.
With estimated revenues of over $300 million and more than 30 million users of its products, if Zoho were to be valued today, it would be over $1 billion dollars without any doubt. But Vembu believes in building institutions such as Honda, learning from Japan’s biggest, long-lasting companies.
After nearly a couple of years of chasing him, I finally managed to sit down with Vembu on Tuesday in Chennai for the Outliers podcast. It’s a long — nearly an hour — conversation that can as well be termed “a masterclass” in building a globally successful enterprise without any venture money.

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Pankaj Mishra is a writer of FactorDaily.