From being a small-town boy from Aligarh to the founder of one of India’s most trusted technology brands, Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has come a long way. The man Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who always wears a welcoming smile, stands true to every word he writes during the most challenging period of his life. Nothing came easy for him. He was struggling to make ends meet, and today he owns a company whose current value as of September 2022 is approx. $110 billion
Life tested him from beginning his entrepreneurial journey to becoming one of the most influential Indian business worlds today.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma`s Early Life
Vijay Sharma was an exceptional student in secondary school, but a topper in his school was lost in transition in college. Coming from a humble background, he did not know how to write and read English as he completed most of his school education, mainly in Hindi. However, he soon realized that he must start learning the English language to make it through college.
This would only be the start of a long journey to success for the young boy from Aligarh. His modus operandi was to read two books simultaneously with the English one, a Hindi version of the book. But it was not an easy task; the first bencher in school slowly started gravitating towards the backbenches as he could hardly understand what was taught in class.
After some time, Vijay was so disillusioned and disheartened with his bad grades, mainly due to language constraints, that he stopped attending classes. During this period, he spent most of his time in the college computer room, browsing the internet and dreaming about being in the mecca for worldwide innovation, Silicon Valley.
Startup in college
While most of the young and bright engineering students were excited about the prospect of being placed in big companies, Vijay decided to be an entrepreneur. He made the internet his playground while making Yahoo and Sabeer Bhatia his inspirations.
He learned to code all by himself and built his first company XS Communications, a college-based startup that created content management systems with his college mates. After some time, some of the most prominent news publications, including The Indian Express, used his company’s content.
This period also became one of the most challenging times in his life as his dreams of reaching Silicon Valley have shattered. In 2005, Vijay Sharma raised the first round of funding of Rs 8 lakhs for his startup but soon was left bankrupt by his partners. After this setback, he was devastated, but Vijay was not a man to give up so easily. During this time, he lived in a hostel near Kashmiri Gate in Delhi; he skipped meals to save money and walked long distances to attend work or meetings.
For Vijay, things started to look better when he founded One97 Communications, the parent company of Paytm, in 2000. At that time, less than 10 million Indians knew about the internet. His company offers ringtones, Bollywood movie songs, and search services before landing on the idea of digital payments. The big turning moment for him came in 2011 when he first pitched the idea of entering the payment ecosystem in front of his board.
Initially, the board was not convinced by his idea as he was talking about betting the company’s money on a non-existent market. To convince his commission, he put 1% of his equity, which was about a $2 million round in 2011, on the table and said, “if I waste the company’s money that we put on the site, this is for all of you,”
With his willpower and self-belief, Vijay launches the first avatar of Paytm. Soon this Pay Through Mobile app became the next big thing in the Indian startup ecosystem in India. Since then, it was no looking back. The rest, as they say, is history. Paytm business suddenly soared in November 2016 when the Narendra Modi government eliminated 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes to end corruption. Paytm went from a new thing to a must-have overnight as more than 75% of the country’s paper money disappeared with a pen stroke.
Backed by consumer trust, Vijay Sharma’s Paytm breath-taking journey to the top of the internet wallet market is now a part of startup folklore in India. What is unknown is that Paytm is among the handful of companies all over the World to secure Series A funding exceeding several $100 million.
Vijay married Mridula Parashar Sharma in 2015, and they have one child. He is a true lover of all kinds of music and is a massive fan of Jim Morrison, Coldplay, and U2. He is also the resident DJ at One97 parties and often forces his colleagues and teammates to listen to the music he likes and discovers.
In 2022 Vijay Shekhar Sharma was reappointed for another five years as managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of One 97 Communication, the parent company of digital payments app Paytm. Around 99.67 percent of shareholders voted in favor of Vijay Sharma’s reappointment. Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma and Masayoshi Son of Softbank are his inspirations.
As of 28th September 2022, Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s net worth is $1B, and he is #2387 richest person in the World.