I’ve known Zoho for roughly 15 years. I was introduced to them when their, at the time, “free-up-to-5-users” CRM product came onto the market, fully baked and ready to serve small businesses across the globe. They caught my interest.

I can’t remember entirely accurately, but I think they were either owned by or called themselves AdventNet until 2009 when they adopted the Zoho brand moniker. They also owned, rather quietly, Vtiger which was a contender in the world of free and open source CRM. In fact, Vtiger was probably, back then, #2 to SugarCRM, (ironically, I think it was built on SugarCRM’s platform). I was intrigued because there was this very quiet company spreading its tentacles around the world and the world didn’t even really know it — though their customers did.

Ironically, the world still doesn’t know it. Not really.

My connection to Zoho as an analyst/influencer/interested party came through someone who at the time was their Chief Evangelist, Raju Vegesna. I met him at several conferences including CRM Evolution and was immensely impressed with him as an evangelist for Zoho — one who kept me up on what the company was doing. I was equally impressed with him as a person — a very good human being. Zoho’s downside was that I couldn’t find much reference to them “out there” because they really didn’t market much though I’d see their presence in some developer groups and forums and technical sites. But I kept my interest up because of my trust in Raju. One thing that I think gets overlooked a lot when it comes to the…