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Zoho’s Sridhar Vembu gives growth mantra to SMBs; suggests entrepreneurs to focus on rural India

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The bootstrapped company is one of the few global success stories in the software-as-a-service space from India. (Image: Twitter)

Ease of Doing Business for MSMEs: An obsessive focus on the customer and customer experience, whether it is for a product or a service, is the most vital thing for a small and medium business (SMB) to succeed, Zoho’s Sridhar Vembu said on Sunday. “What is the most important thing for an SMB to focus on?…the thing that we focused on obsessively is to ensure the best customer experience in whatever we did. From then onwards, the word-of-mouth effect spreads and from one customer you get 10 customers, 200 customers. That is how we grew,” said Vembu, Chief Executive Officer, Zoho. The bootstrapped company is one of the few global success stories in the software-as-a-service space from India. Zoho currently has over 60 million users globally for its over 45 sales and marketing, support and collaboration, finance, and recruitment products.

To make new ventures “substantially less burdened”, Vembu underscored the need for entrepreneurs to move to rural India for cheaper land and rent that directly impacts the profitability of any new project. “This is what we have been doing for the last 10 years,” he said at the Amazon Smbhav event. One of the essentials to make this work is investing in the development of skills and talent without which rural ideas will not work. “With this in place, businesses can be exceptionally successful…and in fact, the priority for our country, as well as for entrepreneurs is to develop the skills we need for our projects. And that is what we have done successfully at Zoho.”

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The company through its Zoho School of Learning Initiative selects students in the age group of 17-19 from high schools or polytechnics and invest in their practical and relevant skill training. Post that, they become ready for jobs at Zoho across verticals. “If you go in with the mindset that we have to develop or nurture these skills from the raw talent that’s available (and) from the demographics that is available, then you are more likely to find your venture successful and you are also going to find passionate and loyal people,” added Vembu.

For India to achieve its $5-trillion economy goal by 2025, it is imperative for entrepreneurs to look at the rural economy not just as a source of demand but also as a source of production and wealth creation. That’s important because otherwise there will be an imbalance in rural economies, he believed. “If it’s only a source of demand, how do they generate the demand? Where does the income come from? where is the production that they can trade? So, it’s very important for entrepreneurs to help balance the rural economy, and to create and nurture the talent locally.”

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