BMI 2017 – Mr. Kumar Vembu
Mr. Kumar Vembu, Founder and CEO, GoFrugal Technologies & Zoho Corporation
“I do not hold a management degree,” says Mr.Kumar Vembu, Founder of GoFrugal Technologies and former President and COO of Zoho. He says everything he learnt was from experience. While he worked after his undergraduate degree, he learnt two things which was product development and the power of teaching which he feels only when you teach people, you end up learning more. Mr. Kumar Vembu who did a teaching stint at IIT, Madras says his work experience felt like he was pushed into water before he could tell if he knows to swim or not, all these ups and downs is what shaped him to what he is today.
“I went to the US for sometime to work with Intel as a consultant and that’s where I realized I have sufficient English knowledge and that I could do products,” says Mr. Vemu who started his own company in the year 1995 and later joined Zoho in 1997. “I did not have a very affluent family to invest in my company and so I had no choice but to earn my own morsel. Zoho is the largest product company in India and it has a turnover of over $4 million. Today there are hundred other SaaS (Software as a Service) companies started by ex-employees of Zoho,” explains Mr. Vembu who says he’s always worked with fresh engineers and the trick of being in business is to be jack of all trades.
During the Q&A session, a student from LIBA asked him how he handles competition in business and he explained it’s healthy and he goes by Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon, who says ‘Don’t focus on your competition, focus on your customers’. “If you keep your USP intact and differentiating your product, no matter what the competition, the business will take care of itself,” smiles Mr. Vembu.
Many students had questions on why Zoho is still a sought after workplace by fresh graduates, how to convert an idea into a product and how an engineer can be in the sales vertical. He explained that it all comes down to the work environment in keeping the employees happy. He says to survive in today’s world, we have to go through a crash course on being agile because the rate of change is unprecedented. “If you want to see an idea into a product, all it takes is determination and your confidence. If you don’t want to invest in your idea, no one will! The more you talk about your idea to people who can be your potential customer or even a competitor, the more you validate it.” signs off Mr. Vembu.
Jasmine Sangeetha Jarald