Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the man behind the idea of an application that we have begun to use on a day-to-day basis. The approximate value of Paytm today is $9.6 Billion, and this was just a dream to him at one point in his life when he had only 10 rupees in his pocket. People say that he is a man who welcomes everyone with a bright and wide smile on his face, but little do they know that behind that same smile lies years and years of struggle.
Vijay went to school in his small hometown of Aligarh in a Hindi-Medium school. He was extremely intelligent which allowed him to pass high school at just the age of 14. He then went to college in Delhi, at the Delhi School of Engineering. Vijay faced an intense amount of struggle because of English. He spent his childhood studying in schools that were Hindi speaking and now he was struggling to read, write, and speak in English. He tried very hard to learn the language but eventually he became so disheartened that he stopped attending college completely.
Although, Vijay was not about wasting his time, he decided that with this extra time in hand of skipping college, he would use it to his advantage. He decided to become an entrepreneur. His motivators were Sameer Bhatia and Yahoo, and his life long dream was to attend Stanford but since that seemed a long shot, he decided to take in Stanford’s available knowledge to learn coding himself. This led to Vijay being on headlines on some of the largest newspapers for being able to build his own content management system. At that point, he even started his first job at an MNC for 6 months.
The struggles although continued after this when he was left bankrupts by his partners who he had began a business with and then in 2005 when he raised a funding of 8 Lakhs, he was conned off 40% of that amount. To survive, he would skip meals and walk lengthy distances just to attend meetings and even just his work.
Things got better when he founded One97, which is the parent company of Paytm. 2011 was the year when he pitched the idea of entering a payment system market to the board of One97. Since this market was non-existence, the board members did not feel convinced on investing in this.
But Vijay believed “There is no fun in doing what others ask you to do, the real fun is in doing what people say you can’t do.” And so, he invested approximately $2 Million on starting Paytm. He basically went against his whole board by putting in his own equity for something that only him, believed in. And let’s just say, it totally paid off!
Once Paytm was launched, a new barrier came into picture, which was consumer trust. This was a huge issue because for a startup to convince consumers that they should make payments through their app and risk their money, it was definitely a long shot. Although, Vijay believed in “word-of-mouth” marketing and it worked wonders. They even launched themselves on Twitter and Facebook in order to immediately respond to customer complaints.
It started off as a platform to only do mobile recharges and pay bills, but now since customer trust has built up, they have created a wallet for people to keep their money in, make transactions to endless number of parties, link your bank account, and even do shopping through Paytm Mall.
Paytm has grown so big that in the whole world, it comes in one of the handful of companies that has funds exceeding several $100 Million, from AliBaba, SAIF and Alipay.
From having just 10 rupees to spend in his pocket to owning a Billion Dollar worth company, Vijay Shekhar Sharma deserves continuous standing ovations for the struggles he went through not only to become an entrepreneur but to bring something innovative to Indian Consumers.
Written by: Niharika Deshmukh