If we triumph in India, we can win anywhere: Zoho Corp founder Sridhar Vembu

By S Ben Raja Published on Aug 01, 2018 02:25 PM IST

Chennai: Celebrating the first anniversary of its flagship software Zoho One, an operating system for business, home-grown IT firm, Zoho Corp, launched the 'Zoho Backstage', an event management tool that was incorporated to Zoho One.

At an event held in the city on Tuesday, News Today had a chat with Zoho Corp founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu to know more about the developments in his company.

Excerpts:

Q: How is the business atmosphere here in India?

A: India will soon become one of the most sought after country for SMEs and startups. Zinnov foresees our country as the world's largest SME nation. Moreover, Nasscom-Zinnov report has said India may double its start-up base by 2020. The present situation is like if we win in India, we can win anywhere in the world. When our own firm's traffic is taken into consideration, India is neck to neck with USA and is likely to surpass that country by this year-end. Our next aim is to become one of the top five technology companies in the world while becoming number one in India.

Q: It has been a year since you launched Zoho One. How is the response so far?

A: It's overwhelming. More than 12,000 organisations are currently using Zoho One with an addition of 1,000 firms every month. IIFL has turned out to be our biggest customer with over 20,000 users, followed by The Warehouse Group with 15,000 users. Also, over 36 per cent of our customers are based out of India. Seventeen out of the top 30 organisations on Zoho One are based out of our country. Over 4,000 of our customers are startups. We are looking forward to take our successes to greater heights.

Q: How was your EBITDA in H1 and first quarter of this fiscal?

A: We recorded positive EBITDA which enabled us to hire more employees this fiscal. In this H1 we recruited 1,000 employees with 6,000 already working for us. We were also on a recruitment drive in our overseas offices. We hired around 40 people for our Netherlands hub.

Q: How was your CAPEX in the last fiscal?

A: We have spent close to 10 million dollars for establishing data centres worldwide for handling our users' traffic. As a first step, our data centres in Chennai and Pune will be opened by 15 August. Eight data centres are coming this year and 20 more will be established in the next few years. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) readiness has also been extended to all regions.

Q: What's your take on the first anniversary of GST?

A: It was a great initiative by the government and the increase in tax flow has proved its success. Almost all the niggles in the reform has been sorted out. Being one of the first to embrace GST, Zoho Corp has found the system profitable and sustainable.

Q: How has been Zoho One's usage so far?

A: Zoho One can run more than 40 business applications. When we first began the sales, our software's apps usage was just around 10. But over the year, it has went beyond 30. As of now, the average number of apps enabled by our customers in Zoho One is in the ballpark of 16. Some of our top apps are CRM, Reports, Desk, Sales IQ, etc. We have also launched five more apps this year. Zoho One has replaced more than 650 different products and that number will only grow as we release more new apps.

Q: Let us know more about Zoho Backstage.

A: Backstage manages a business event from start to finish by offering a unified online platform that allows businesses to market the event, fill seats, and engage audience all from within one product. Rather than getting bogged down in the complexities of the tools being used, this event management system lets organisers focus on what matters.

Q: After an year, how is Zoho One's pricing?

A: Zoho One is available for Rs 1,000 per employee per month. Businesses must purchase a license for every employee in their organization to get this pricing. Zoho One is currently available worldwide, in multiple languages. Users can also sign up for a 30-day trial version. Zoho Backstage is available immediately. It offers four subscription plans: free plan, professional plan (Rs 5,900 per month), professional+ plan (Rs 11,900 per month), and the single event plan (Rs 17,999 per event) with a custom branding add-on at Rs 60,000 per year.

Improvements made to Zoho One
Some of Zoho One's new capabilities are: Analytics - provides analytics across Zoho's suite of  business apps, Zia - the artificial intelligence powered assistant, Zia search - lets users search across all their Zoho apps instantly, improving information access within an organisation, mobile app - allows organisation administrators and service administrators to onboard new employees, provision applications, manage permissions, set security policies, create groups and more, all from their mobile devices and Concierge - free service to optimise Zoho One for particular needs.