Inspiration for finding the next big thing comes from the most mundane aspects of life. Hailing from a small town of Aligarh, Vijay Shekhar Sharma founded one of the most successful payment and money transfer apps used in India – Paytm. In this freshly demonetised Indian economy, the app got a sudden gigantic push in terms of number of users. This helped Sharma bring in some key investors which brought in about US$700 million in capital from Ant Financial, the affiliate e-payments division of Chinese ecommerce powerhouse Alibaba.
The Quest for Opportunity
Despite his engineering background and no formal education in business management, Vijay Shekhar has the business acumen of a genius. This quest for more made him quit his first job at a reputed MNC in 6 months and build a company of his own with friends. But economy never works the same way as our plans. With the dot com burst and recession, his dream of conquering the Silicon Valley was shattered by bankruptcy. He again raised Rs 8 lakhs through his goodwill of which 40% was conned off. This left him devastated but not broken. He roughed it out living in a hostel in Delhi, skipping meals and walking to work or meetings. All this while, he never gave up on the quest for that one big opportunity.
Laying Foundations: How did it all start?
Things took to a good turn when he started One97, the parent company of Paytm. They began experimenting with the three fundamentals of internet- content, marketing and commerce. Their big eureka moment came in 2011 when he first pitched the idea of entering the online payment eco-system in front of the board.
The members were not convinced, as he was talking about betting the company’s money on an unknown market. To win their faith, he put 1% of his equity, about $2 million, on the table. He stood true to his belief, which brought out the first avatar of Paytm, ‘Pay Through Mobile’ was born, which went onto becoming the next big thing of the startup universe in India. And, since then there was never looking back.
The USP: Customer comes first!
The secret behind Paytm’s success is the trust he built with his customers, which none of his competitors gave as much value to before. Even before he began the internet wallet services, he first built a 24×7 customer care service to attend to the worries of customers, enabling them to trust the wallet enough to put their money into the hands of the unknown. In fact, 30% of the Paytm’s campaign budget is spent in building trust with the customer.
Backed by this customer trust, Paytm’s astonishing journey to the top of the online wallet market is now a part of startup folklore, but few people know that Paytm also became one of the few companies worldwide to acquire Series A funding that exceeds several $100 mn. That too they have only had a single round of funding till now with Alibaba, Alipay and SAIF.
Entrepreneurship is the key
His achievements speak volumes about the success of his managerial skills and judicial application of his sharp business acumen. It therefore comes as no surprise that,
- Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the only Indian apart from Prime Minister Narendra Modi who made it to TIME’s 2017 list of ’100 most influential people in the world’.
- With a net worth of 1.3 billion, he is now India’s youngest billionaire, as per the 2017 Forbes list.
- Recognized among the 50 Most Influential Young Indians by GQ.
- Winner of the Entrepreneur India Awards 2017.
- Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 as per Moneytech Awards .
And these are just his personal achievements in addition to what his company Paytm has achieved since 2012. His unwavering grit can be summed up in his one quote: “To the winners, who won because they didn’t give up.”