Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Paytm's founder Vijay Shekar Sharma has an inspiring rag to riches story that everyone should be aware of. One of the most successful entrepreneurs in India, at one point in time he only had Rs 10 in his pocket, but in 2016, he earned $3 million in sales, proving nothing is impossible. Hailing from the small town of Aligarh, he transformed the digital banking sector in India by launching Paytm, which is now considered one of the most trusted technology brands in the country.
Early Life
Vijay Shekhar Sharma came from a humble background. His father was a school teacher, and an idealist, who refused to teach private tuition to earn extra money because he firmly believed he was doing the right thing. Vijay was not proficient in English and did his schooling entirely in Hindi.
But soon he realized that he needed to master new languages in order to survive college, and so he started learning through magazines and books. Soon he mastered the English language by studying the Hindi and English versions of the book at the same time. But things were not easy for him, and his problems with the language persisted, resulting in him being a back-bencher in his class. He was extremely disheartened due to this and stopped attending college altogether. But this wasn’t enough to stop one of the brightest young entrepreneurs in India.
The Climb to the Top
While many in Vijay’s position would have given up, he decided to put his time to good use by pursuing entrepreneurship. He always dreamed of attending Stanford, but because he was not proficient in English and because of the lack of funds was a big problem. He used the power of the internet to teach himself how to code, and he was well on his way to becoming one of the top 10 entrepreneur in India.
With the help of some of his friends in college, Vijay built a content management system that received a fair amount of success. The Indian Express, one of the leading newspapers of India began using this system. During this time, he managed to secure a job at an MNC. After 6 months, he quit his job and started his own company with his friends as partners. He passed his final exams in college as well.
The Struggle
Then came a dark period in Vijay's life, which destroyed his dreams of going to Silicon Valley in the USA. His partners, after launching the business with him and raising money for the first round, left him bankrupt. In 2005, Vijay managed to raise Rs. 8 lakhs via his business venture but he lost 40% of this amount because he was conned. Although this was a devastating loss, Vijay was a fighter and refused to give up. This quality of his is why he went on to be one of the top entrepreneurs in India.
To make up for the lost money, Vijay would stay at a hostel, skip meals, and walk long distances to attend meetings. Having faced such hardship in his life, Vijay Shekar Sharma still harbors the fear that someday some unknown entity will steal his life’s work.
Launching Paytm
After launching One97, Paytm's parent company, Vijay's fortune took a good turn. One97 decided to stick to the basics and work with commerce, advertising, and content. In 2011, he made a proposition to the board that their company should enter the payment ecosystem in India. The board had their doubts about this idea since the market for online payment did not exist in India yet at that time.
Perhaps many others in his position would have left and started their own company. But Vijay was thinking about the long term. He dreamed of building a 100-year old company and become one of the most successful entrepreneurs in India. So in order to convince the board members, Vijay put 1% of his share of the equity on the table, then valued at $2 million, and said that it would be divided among all of them if he wasted the money. Thus Paytm was born, and Vijay has never looked back since.
The secret to his Success
Vijay Shekhar Sharma became extremely successful with Paytm because he concentrated on building trust with the customers. Even before rolling out his payment wallet services, he built a customer care service to solve customer issues which would lead them to trust his company and put their money there. By building this relationship of trust, Vijay quickly became one of the best entrepreneurs in India.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s journey is a truly inspiring one. In spite of facing so many hurdles in his life, he managed to turn things around in his favour, and that is something we all can learn from.