"Sach hum nahi, sach tum nahi,
Sach hai satat sangharsh hi,
Sangharsh se hatt kar jiye toh kya jiye hum ya ki tum,
Jo panth bhul ruka nahi,
Jo haar dekh jhukha nahi,
Jo bhi paristhitiya mile,
Kaante chubhe, kaliyan khile,
Tute nahi insan, bass sandesh jeevan ka yahi
Sach hum nahi, sach tum nahi
Sach hai mahaj sangharsh hi"
By Jagdish Gupt
The above lines of Jagdish Gupt aptly exemplify the most renowned CEO of Paytm and Second youngest Billionaire in India. Vijay Shekhar Sharma who is a personification of courage, morale, hard work, insight and vision. It is a story of how a man can change his destiny through sheer hard work and struggles. On 8th July 1973, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was born in a small village of Aligarh in a poor family. His father was a school teacher and his mother was a housewife and had three siblings. Talent is a fragrance which manifests itself despite utter poverty. Though Vijay Shekhar belongs to a poor family his profound knowledge committed him to pass Higher Secondary at the age of 14 only.
Vijay Shekhar aspired to be an engineer but he neither had the money nor do any resources to get any coaching. His shortcomings over English full filled the proverb ‘it never rains but it pours’. His sickly English further blocked his success in many ways.
In 21st C. when English has dissolved in our life as sugar in water was not as easy to comprehend back then in the 90s as it is today. Vijay Shekhar talked to his mother that he wants to be an engineer so he wanted to coach for English. His mother denied him saying they do not have enough resources and his sister has to get married soon.
Vijay Shekhar never gave up on his dreams due to his weak English. Though he was not good at the language but had commendable command over Science and Mathematics. Ultimately, at the age of 15, he not only was selected in Delhi University but also got 9th rank in the entrance exam. Vijay Shekhar who was the top-ranked in his school turned into the backbencher in college due to his poor English.
“A certain darkness is needed to see the stars”.
One day, he was mocked in his class when the professor asked him a question in English and he could not understand it. Vijay Shekhar describes English in his own words as ‘taaren zameen Par’. He started going to the library to understand English. He used to translate his subject books in Hindi and then study it. He failed in the 1st year of Engineering due to his non-proficiency in English. English had become one of the toughest barriers in the path of Vijay Shekhar success.
“God helps those who help themselves”.
The changing moment in his life appeared when he visited Dariya Gunj in Old Delhi and purchased a second hand Forbes Magazine. He used to read the success stories of remarkable businessmen. Vijay Shekhar got highly inspired by Steve Jobs, Bill Gates and Ratan Tata that how these entrepreneurs started the business from a small garage and turned it into a milestone.
Vijay Shekhar had an ardent wish to go Stanford and Silicon Valley but he couldn’t go due to financial crisis and paucity of resources. Such was the morale of this ‘Iron man’ that even when he couldn’t go he didn’t give up and claimed in such obnoxious condition,
“If I can’t go to the Silicon Valley, I will make my valley into Silicon Valley”.
In 1997 during college days, Vijay Shekhar learned computers and started making websites named indiasite.net which was a search engine for a company. In 2001, Vijay Shekhar opened his own company One97 Communications which provided a search facility for people. With the advent of One97 Communications, Vijay Shekhar also became one of the youngest businessman in India.
To expand One97 Communications, he took loans from banks, many times on the higher principal interest rate of 24%. Due to this high rate of interest, the income from the company evaporated in an employee’s salary, interest rate and rent of his house.
Slowly, these higher rates led him to live a life of impoverishment. The value of money can be understood by the man who himself has starved and craved for a penny. That is why Vijay Shekhar understands the importance of money that money is a key factor in everybody’s life.
There has been a time in his life when he didn’t has money to buy two cups of tea in winters. He has walked kilometers to kilometers just to save the money for the next day breakfast. He skipped meals of days and walked long distances of 14 to 15 kilometers to attend the meetings.
Vijay Shekhar inspires to dream big and achieve it no matter what. To end up this bankruptcy, he started a consultancy where he met Mr.Piyush Agrawal. Vijay Shekhar helped Mr. Agrawal by developing software in his company which doubled his profit. This act of Vijay Sharma impressed Mr.Piyush Agrawal and he offered him the post of CEO in his company but Vijay rejected.
On the other side, Vijay’s family was pressurizing him to do a service. Vijay was stuck between fiscal crunch and family pressure. Now, Vijay had no other option left other than accepting the offer of Mr.Piyush Agrawal. Eventually, his loan which he had raised for One97 Communications grew up to a hefty amount of 8 lakh rupees.
Vijay shared it with Mr. Agrawal who helped him by purchasing 40% shares of One97 Communications. And thus, the loan of 8 lakh Rs. demolished. Vijay Shekhar says,
“I was not meant to be the horse who was tamed by someone. I was meant to be that bird — the eagle that wanted to fly high”. And that is when I heard the words from Jim Morrison in a classic song:
“We want the world, and we want it… Now!”
It was the deepest want of Vijay Shekhar to build a consumer brand. The Board of Directors said that the profit of One97 Communications needs to be invested in something worthy venture as they cannot keep the dividends for a long period. They had to use that money. Vijay Shekhar took a tour of the whole world and reached Beijing. There he encountered that Beijing was fastly growing in terms of technology. He was startled to see that every number is a hundred times bigger than India. It shocked Vijay and he felt that if a country like China can do this, then why can’t India. He felt that we need to build a payment platform and then a commerce platform. There emerged the idea of Paytm but the Board of Directors rejected the idea. They believed that cash is King in India and the countrymen won’t approve the digital transaction. It is a matter of amusement that Vijay Shekhar was given an amount of Rs five crore for six months to take a chance whether Paytm will be built or not. Finally, the idea of Paytm was executed and the rest is history.
“There is a will, there is a way”.
Vijay Shekhar observed growing phenomenal use of smartphones. He wanted to contribute to society so that people can use smartphones to do the transaction online. On 8th July 2010, an online website was launched called Paytm.com under its parent company One97 communications. It was built for the poor person –the shopkeeper or the auto-rickshaw driver who is not respected or wanted by any financial institution.
Initially, it served only from online prepaid mobile and online DTH facility. Within a couple of days, it popularized among people due to its paying facility of electricity bill, water bill, and Gas bill facility. Paytm made people’s life easy. Within 2 years, its users increased to two lakh fifty thousand. Paytm had become a popular name in the world of e-commerce.
Paytm payments Bank has become the first bank in India which offers a Zero balance current account facility. The initial investment of Paytm was $2 bn in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. It served in two countries India and Canada. Its products are paytm money, Paytm Gamepad, Paytm smart retail and Paytm pot paid, paytm wallet, Paytm mall. In 2014, Paytm launched Paytm wallet and the Indian railways and Uber accepted it as Paytm wallet. In 2017, Paytm has become India’s first payment app with crossing 100 million apps downloaded.
The substantial and sensational moment occurred for Paytm on November 8th, 2016; a historical day in Indian History. On 8th November 2016, the phenomenal step of demonetization was taken by the Indian Government.
Demonetization banned all the Rs50 and Rs1000 notes into circulation to restraint corruption and black money. It boomed the digital revolution in India and hence the Paytm. When demonetization unabled people to use cash, people were compelled to use the digital medium to enable transactions and go for cashless payments. Paytm witnessed colossal usage. It upsurged Paytm revenue manifolds. During demonetization, Paytm worked and completed 600 days’ work in only 60 days. Its users increased to 200 million by November 2017.
Today Paytm is the most valuable startup in India having a valuation of $16 bn and it stamped Vijay Shekhar Sharma as one of the leading young entrepreneurs in India.
Another biggest achievement Paytm achieved is Berkshire Hathaway investment. Paytm has raised $350 million from Berkshire Hathaway. Though Warren Buffet is not involved directly in the deal, he has executed it by Todd Combs. Paytm deal is the first investment of Berkshire in the Indian Technology Firm.
Today, Vijay Shekhar Sharma net worth is $2.7 bn.Success never comes decorated on the plate. This warm-hearted and candid entrepreneur made his dream true to build Billion dollars from a time when he used to have only 10 Rs in his pocket. Vijay Shekhar was not born with a silver spoon but he transformed his life into a golden one. This is a story of rags to riches. Vijay Shekhar Sharma motivates us to be ‘Michael Angelo’ of your life, create and paint your life with beautiful colors. Vijay Shekhar Sharma learned and taught a lesson that perseverance, confidence, courage, vision can make you a Billionaire. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is coal turned into a diamond who completely imbibes the lines of Allama Iqbal.
"Khud hi ko Kar buland itna,
Ki har taqdeer se pehle,
Khuda bande se pooche,
Bata Teri raza Kya hai"