Multi-million dollar Zoho Corp powered by high school graduates
Zoho Corporation is a Chennai-based software company offering cloud-based products like Zoho Mail, Zoho Docs (like Google Docs), accounting software Zoho Books and several others, some of which are used by giants like Amazon, Suzuki, etc.
In FY2016, Zoho earned $240 million in revenue.
But what's so special about Zoho? Well, it's powered by an army of high school graduate programmers.
Zoho Corp: Challenging the Indian education model?
A brief history of Zoho Corporation
Zoho Corporation was founded in 1996 by Sridhar Vembu, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology, Madras. From 1996-2009, the company was known as AdventNet Inc., but was renamed to Zoho Corporation in 2009 based on the name of its online office suite.
Zoho Corp has its own training programme called Zoho University
While most other companies seek to employ graduates from top universities, Zoho Corp recruits a significant portion of its employees out of schools.
Their initiative, Zoho University (ZU), looks for talent in high school children through aptitude tests, and trains them before giving them a job at Zoho Corp.
Amidst a growing shortage of quality engineering talent in India, Zoho's model is gaining traction.
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The birth of Zoho University
"Zoho University was born...because we found that there wasn't much that these vaunted engineers were bringing to the table...The problem seemed to lie in the system, the context-less education they were getting, on irrelevant subjects based on obsolete curricula," said Rajendran Dandapani, Zoho evangelist.
How Zoho makes programmers out of high school graduates
Students who show strong aptitude are selected for the Zoho University's 18-month training programme and, upon completion of the programme, are offered jobs at Zoho.
Students are paid Rs. 8,000 per month during training, and are hired at either Rs. 4 lakh or Rs 6 lakh p.a.
ZU graduates make up a nice chunk of Zoho employees
Currently, 15% of Zoho Corporation's 4,500 strong workforce are Zoho University graduates, with 30 of them working in leadership positions.
Preparing students in a fast changing world
Zoho University offers its students an evolving curriculum and a dynamic learning experience.
Unlike a lot of universities in the country which have outdated curriculum, the ZU syllabus is updated regularly to keep in tune with advancing technology and demands in the tech sector.
Owing to this difference with conventional college degrees, ZU is a goldmine of potential talent for India's aspiring tech sector.
Is HCL following in the footsteps of Zoho?
Possibly inspired by the success of Zoho University, in April 2017, HCL Technologies started preparing 200 high school students for entry level software engineering jobs in their company.