Not inclined to pursue his studies beyond high school, 17-year old Abdul Alim dropped out of school in 2013. Unable to find a job in his hometown in northeast India, Alim moved to Chennai in the south with nothing more than Rs200 in his pockets. He spent months job-hunting before fate finally brought him to the gates of Zoho Corporation, a software products maker, as a security guard. Four years down the line, Alim still works at Zoho, but he no longer mans the gates. He is part of the company’s reports team, and spends his days using code to create charts and data visualisations.
Alim isn’t alone. Several high school graduates and dropouts like him are today part of the Chennai-based software firm, catering to global customers.
Zoho was founded in 1996 by Sridhar Vembu, an alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology Madras. The company makes cloud-based products such as Zoho Mail, Zoho Docs (like the one Google offers), accounting software Zoho Books, and some 30 others which are used by companies such as Amazon, Suzuki, and Air Canada. It earned Rs1,557 crore (around $240 million) in revenue in the 2016 financial year, according to company research platform Tofler.