In an age when technology has revolutionized everything, going cashless seems to be an obvious choice for the sheer convenience it brings with it. But the founder, CEO, who visualized it and gave it life, struggled to bring forth a revolution in mobile commerce.
Meet Vijay Shekhar Sharma, a child prodigy from Aligarh in U.P, India, who rose from a humble background to own a company whose current value stands at $3 billion (2016). Since then, he has come a long way gradually bagging the Best Businessman Award (in 2016 by GQ) and the Best Entrepreneur of 2016 (by ET).
Vijay completed his higher secondary examinations while he was just 14, something that testifies to his prodigal qualities. But the road that followed was filled with tough moments. He struggled with the English language (because of his education in Hindi medium) when he enrolled for a graduation at the Delhi College of Engineering. This made a topper slacken and ended up with supplementary papers that did not allow him to grab a job soon after college.
But, Vijay was a tough nut and would not give in so easily. He started reading Hindi and English versions of books simultaneously to master the language—which isn’t as easy as it sounds. This made sure he could read two books at the same time—a rare feat and in due course, master the English language, his first step to success!
Gradually, he diverted all his attention towards the Internet and learned how to code on his own. In no time he was able to build a content management system with the help of friends that was used by the Times of India. This success gave him some motivation, but unknown to him at the time, some misfortunes were afoot. He started a small business with his friends but they left him bankrupt, conning him off 40% of Rs. 8 lakh that he had raised through his venture. As you can imagine, that was not a small blow to someone who was just starting out in entrepreneurship.
How Paytm was Born:
In 2000, he launched One97, a company that delivers mobile content and commerce services to mobile consumers through telecom applications and cloud platforms. From here, there was no looking back. It was as if the dark clouds had begun to disappear gradually bringing in rays of hope and success for Vijay. He started experimenting with 3 basics of Internet—content, advertising and commerce. Under the flagship of One97, Paytm (Pay through mobile) was launched in 2009.This was the largest online recharge portal. His board was, however, not convinced about entering the payment ecosystem yet. Vijay took the giant step, purely based on his conviction that the real challenge lies in doing what others think you cannot do, rather than just going by what others want you to do.
Vijay’s prime motive was to have satisfied customers and make their life ‘cashless and easy’.
At the outset, he built a strong customer care team that could answer customer queries and drive them to trust the unknown. Gradually news spread through word of mouth and PayTM started creating visibility through social media platforms to cater to customer’s needs on a priority basis.
Apart from customer focus, Vijay gives utmost importance to having a strong, motivated team on board. He ensures that the right people are recruited and has even given 4%of his equity (approx. 120 million) to the team members, whom he always addresses as colleagues rather than employees. All this has contributed to the growing success of Paytm and has helped it secure Series A funding exceeding $100 million.
Achievements in a short span:
The story of Paytm and Vijay doesn’t end here. Economic Times declared him as the ‘Hottest business leader under 40’, and he received an honorary doctorate from Amity University in Gurgaon. In 2014-15, Paytm launched its new App for wallet and Uber and IRCTC tied up with Paytm to use its wallet. Not just that, Paytm raised funding from Alipay financial for M-commerce and wallet, followed by Mediatek the next year. It has now become a household name and people are using it to book movie tickets, travel, shopping.
Paytm’s success stems from the enthusiasm that Vijay exuberates all around and the conviction with which he does business. His days of struggle have made him the man he is today—humble, cheerful and always motivating. He focuses on his customers first and is a tireless worker. In his own words, “I feel like I am in my teens and Paytm is my infatuation.” With this zeal, Vijay continues to work and inspire millions all over the world.
In his own words,
“I feel like I am in my teens and Paytm is my infatuation.”
With this zeal, Vijay continues to work and inspire millions all over the world.