“To have a product mindset, you have to embrace uncertainty. You can never plan a perfect product. Rigid ideas do not work. You have to be flexible and agile. This is the one know-how we have deeply developed in Zoho.”
With $6 billion valuation, 50 million users, 45+ apps in nearly every major business category, 9,000 employees, and around 11 offices globally, these words from Sridhar Vembu, Founder, Zoho Corp, are worth pondering.
One of the flag bearers of India's SaaS industry, Sridhar was speaking in a masterclass at TechSparks 2020 with YourStory Founder and CEO Shradha Sharma, as he deep-dived into building world-class products and future of technology.
The Chennai-based bootstrapped unicorn has seen a global success on basis of strong product suites. Even during the pandemic, Zoho came up with a slew of initiatives to help government, non-profits, and retailers. Under its new “Vertical Relief Plan”, Zoho launched several apps such as Zoho Creator, Zoho Desk, Zoho Classes, and Zoho forms, among others.
At TechSparks 2020, YourStory's flagship event, which has gone virtual for its 11th edition, Sridhar touched upon many interesting points. According to him, technology comes out of the human mind, and there has to be an organisational culture to push for that. Starting with a company in an era where product mindset did not even exist, he invented his own playbook.
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Sridhar said, the culture at Zoho embraces a mix of philosophies from Japan, the Silicon Valley, and India. He also believes that one should synthesise a playbook for a specific context, and this context will then define your culture. He also emphasised on creating belongingness for the people in the company, which is the only way to ensure long-term commitment of employees.“It is important to create a unique culture and then unique products will come from it,” said Sridhar.
Going ahead, Sridhar believes there needs to be an effort to strengthen the product mindset at the foundation, and this can only be achieved through education. With tech talent from small towns of India spanning across the globe, its time that India should focus on deep technology innovation.
As he rightly said,“Today, we have a lot of startups. But 20 years ago, none of this existed. We are in a promising space. But now the companies need to focus on deep technology and not only the applied technology. We have to focus on building and inventing foundational technology.”
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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.
Edited by Megha Reddy