From Dreams to Dollars: Vijay Shekhar Sharma's Unprecedented Paytm Success Story

From Dreams to Dollars: Vijay Shekhar Sharma's Unprecedented Paytm Success Story
Vijay Shekhar Sharma: Founder of Paytm and One97 Communications

The Indian startup circuit has witnessed many astounding stories. The growth of many multinational companies has added to its worth and value as an ecosystem where everyone gets an opportunity to shine and rise. With the new era approaching, it is time to have a sneak peek into one of the most successful entrepreneurs, Vijay Shekhar Sharma. Well, if you are residing in India or if you have kept in touch with the Indian startup ecosystem, then you might have heard about Paytm. It is one of the first e-wallets and is still considered the representative of the Indian startup system in the e-wallet circuit.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma is a billionaire with a $1.2 billion net worth. Once, Sharma used to earn around Rs 10,000 a month when he was 27 years old and based in Aligarh. From the small town of Aligarh to being the head of one of the largest fintech companies focused on digital payments and wallet-based payments, the journey of Vijay Shekhar Sharma is as unique and interesting as it is inspiring.

So, let's take a walk along the journey of Vijay Shekhar Sharma and get a glance at the key highlights of Vijay Shekhar Sharma's Story, Education, net worth, obstacles & more.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Biography

Name Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Born 8 July 1978 Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, India
Citizenship Indian
Education B.Tech from Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University)
Title Founder & CEO of Paytm
Net worth $1.2 Billion (2022)
Wife Mridula Sharma

Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Initial Stage of Life
Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Overcoming The Tough Circumstances
Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Converting The Obstacles Into Opportunities
Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Paytm
Vijay Shekhar Sharma - Awards and Recognitions
Vijay Shekhar Sharma- An Inspiration

Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Initial Stage of Life

Paytm Founder and CEO - Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Paytm Founder and CEO - Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Vijay’s story can be compared with that of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Both of them came from small towns but were full of sheer determination and passion, and eventually brought about a big change in the system. In real life, Vijay is self-effacing and has no pretensions. He speaks from the heart. His colleagues love him because he is a genuine person who is kind to all. Talking about the Indian startup circuit, everyone loves him because he epitomizes startup resilience.

Vijay is further known for his love of rock music and rock concerts. The Paytm founder is also famous for his heartfelt speeches. Furthermore, he is a really cheerful person as a CEO and often takes the stage to deliver motivational speeches that are roaringly applauded both by the employees of Paytm and other audiences.

Whenever Vijay shared his life story, one would get the idea that he truly understands what it takes to succeed in the ever-changing and challenging world of entrepreneurship. He has been on the receiving side of the harsh times when one would have to toil hard with no guarantee of success. However, Vijay has a wonderful ability, which is to make others laugh because he admires his roots and failures.

The above-mentioned characteristics of Vijay make him one of the most charming CEOs in the country today. However, one must be aware of the fact that his self-effacing humour doesn’t take away Vijay’s staunch belief in inspiring change.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Overcoming The Tough Circumstances

Vijay was the third of four children born to school teacher Sulom Prakash and Asha Sharma, a homemaker. He has seen the tough life of the economically backward section of the country. When he was a 12-year-old kid who used to sport a chappal and visit his school, his batchmates had no money to afford a pair of slippers. After witnessing this, he wrote a poem expressing his bewilderment at the inequalities of life.

Vijay hailed from Aligarh, where he was based in a small town. Vijay was once considered an ineligible bachelor, earning around Rs 10,000 a month at the age of 27. Though the challenges tried hard to bring him down, he always had the ember in him to shine.

Sharma didn't even have an educational background in English and was hence quite poor in the language. However, he didn't shy away from it but taught himself English through rock music.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma was, nevertheless, quite inclined to literature, Hindi literature to be precise, since his early school days. He wrote many poems and even got some of them published. The Paytm chief recently shared on Twitter one of the poems he had written back in 1991 on August 6, 2022. The poem is titled "Vishwas Karo Karm Mein" and is motivational to the very brim, so much so that it strikes the right chords even with the netizens.

Vijay was one of the two people from his village who went on to pursue engineering. Vijay holds an engineering degree from the prestigious Delhi Institute of Technology. As per Vijay, if one used to study in a Hindi-Medium school, he/she had to face many difficulties. A child reading in the 1990s framed Hindi-medium school rarely had access to books and coaching facilities! Therefore, Vijay realized he was alone on his path to success.

During his time at DTU, he expressed his life in a manner similar to the popular Bollywood movie Tare Zameen Par! That is, he could see the lips of his teacher moving, but he could not understand a single word! While preparing for the exams, he and his friends would read the answers and not know the questions because the questions were written in English. However, he conquered one of his greatest fears successfully!

Paytm, which was founded in August 2010, has always been highly valued as a company and features as one of the biggest digital payment services relied upon by merchants and users alike. Furthermore, it has recently witnessed one of the biggest IPOs in Indian history, which kickstarted on November 8, 2021. However, ever since the listing of Paytm shares, the company has witnessed some challenging drops in the share prices, which declined to a record low of nearly 37% to hit an all-time low of Rs 1,283 per share. Nevertheless, the shares of the company had finally seen a rise of 9% in prices, as reported on November 23, 2021.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma's Paytm was recently barred by the RBI from onboarding new customers under its banking vertical, Paytm Payments Bank. This significantly affected Paytm's performance on the share market. Right after the spreading of the news, the company's shares tanked 14% to hit a new low of Rs 672 on the BSE in the intra-day trade on March 14, 2022. All of this started after it went for its public listing.

Paytm, which once commanded the market and looked forward to a magnanimous public listing with an issue price of Rs 2,150, has witnessed a considerable erosion of its value, which waned by 70%. As per the reports dated March 18, 2022, the Paytm Founder and CEO, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, has lost around Rs 88 crore daily after its stock market debut on November 18, 2022.

Paytm has seen a whole lot of controversies since the wake of the new year, 2022. Amidst the free fall of its shares that the fintech company is witnessing, reports of the arrest of the Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma were also circulated. Vijay Sharma was allegedly arrested and bailed on the same day, February 22, 2022, for hitting the vehicle of DCP (South Delhi) Benita Mary Jaiker. Though the fintech company and its founder are currently pitted against challenges on all sides, this too, will pass.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Converting The Obstacles Into Opportunities

Vijay Shekhar SharmaVijay Shekhar Sharma: Founder and CEO of Paytm and One97 Communications
Vijay Shekhar Sharma: Founder and CEO of Paytm and One97 Communications

The turning point in Vijay’s life came when he went to market one Sunday and picked up a Forbes magazine. He came to know about the success stories of mega-brands like Apple, Intel, and HP and how they became one of the biggest names in the startup circuit. Each of the companies had one thing in common: all of them were built from basement garages! Then, Vijay wanted to go to Silicon Valley. But, due to a lack of money and resources, that was never possible. Therefore, despite giving up, he taught me that even though Vijay couldn't visit Silicon Valley, he could create one in India!

Hence, he started an internet company with his friend Hari during his college days in 1997. It was in their second year of college that Vijay started a company called XS Corps back in 1997. Both of them wanted to develop search engines, and they knew that the search engine would become the main attraction given the fact that the internet was taking giant strides in the technology circuit during that time. Reflecting on this, Harinder Takhar and Vijay Shekhar Sharma managed to build, which was made to serve as a search engine for a firm. After working on it strenuously for a period of 2 years, they managed to pull off a great deal and sold the website to US Lotus Interworks for a million dollars.

It was in the same year, early in his career, that Vijay Shekhar Sharma developed electronic itineraries for Jet Airways. He also made another website for India's tourism department. In contrast to the other ventures in his professional career, where he was utterly serious, passionate, and dedicated, Sharma was really impatient when it came to studies. He often used to walk out of the examinations. I wanted to achieve a lot in a short span," said Sharma.

Sharma's company, XS Corps, was attempting to create a search engine in India. Though this idea could not be materialized then, due to the scarcity of funding, the company managed to create a content management tool, which helped several media agencies like Living Media and Express Group to host their content. In the final year of college, Sharma aimed to go for River Run Software, which offered the highest-paid job on campus. Sharma still has the memories of the interview day really fresh in his mind. It was one such occasion where he was under immense pressure, which was similar to some more instances. For instance, when he sat in front of Jack Ma or when he sat face to face with the RBI governor, it was the same inexplicable pressure that Vijay experienced.

XS Corps was acquired by a US entrepreneur in 1999 for $1 million of cash and some stocks. This gave him the opportunity to pay off his father's debt, and in doing that, he left the job there. However, his parent insisted he join a real job, but his sheer determination towards developing a new company never allowed him to stay in the traditional job for a long period! Throughout his life, Vijay wanted to be a bird who had freedom; he never wanted to be a horse who ran the same track over and over again!

Hence, to pursue his dream, he founded One97 Communications in 2000 with an aim to create an online directory for people to access through SMS. Sharma managed to work on the idea and managed to expand other value-added services like live astrology, cricket, songs, and more. However, soon after, he realized that recovering money from telecom operators in India wasn't as easy as it seemed. In his first tenure, he learned that cash flow matters, not profitability! With the lack of a collection team and mounting outstanding amounts, the company was on the verge of collapse, and Sharma again had to hit the roads for a new job in 2003.

This was because he was the victim of this cash flow problem, as his clients would never pay him on time. Sharma took up repairing computers against a daily wage and was forced to sell 40% of the company for Rs 8 lakh to his angel investor at that time. It was high time for Vijay as his sister’s marriage was coming up, and he wanted to secure that marriage. There was a big problem for the family as his father, even though he was clean on the loan defaulters sheet, was not granted a loan of 2 lakhs! Hence, by drawing inspiration, he developed Paytm, the platform that aimed to resolve the issues of the poor and economically backward sections of society. The platform was built for a shopkeeper or an auto-rickshaw driver who is never respected or liked by any financial institution.

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma- Paytm

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma - Awards and Recognitions

Vijay Shekhar Sharma has received numerous awards and recognitions during his career, some of which are:

  • Received Best Serial Entrepreneur Award at Rural and Urban Development Summit 2022 from the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Govt. of India.
  • Forbes magazine has ranked me as the youngest Indian billionaire.
  • Vijay Shekhar Sharma was felicitated with the Yash Bharati Award, the highest civilian award from the Uttar Pradesh government.
  • He was ranked in the 62nd position in the Forbes list of the richest person in India in 2020.
  • He was listed as the youngest billionaire in India in 2017, with a net worth of $1.3 billion.
  • Time Magazine listed Sharma among the 100 most influential people in 2017.
  • Sharma was recognized by The Economic Times as the ET Entrepreneur of the Year for 2016.
  • He was also named the Dataquest IT Man of the Year in 2017.
  • Sharma was felicitated with an Honorary Doctorate from Amity University, Gurgaon, in 2016.
  • He received the title Businessman of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards in 2016.
  • He also became the NDTV Indian of the Year in 2016.
  • Sharma also emerged as India's Hottest Business Leader under 40, as recognized by The Economic Times in 2015.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma- An Inspiration

Vijay has been the face of the economically backward section of Indian society. Even though he came from a family that had financial issues, he was able to break the barriers and work for the betterment of society. Undoubtedly, Vijay is one of the biggest names in the Indian Startup circuit!

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Who is Paytm's owner?

One97 Communications Limited, which Vijay Shekhar Sharma founded, owns the brand Paytm.

Who is the CEO of Paytm?

Vijay Shekhar Sharma is the founder and CEO of Paytm.

How much is Vijay Shekhar Sharma's net worth?

The founder of Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, has a net worth of $1.2 billion.

When did Vijay Shekhar Sharma become a billionaire?

In 2017, he was named the youngest billionaire in India. His net worth was then calculated at $1.3 billion.

When was Paytm founded?

Paytm was founded by Vijay Shekhar Sharma in 2010.

What is Vijay Shekhar Sharma's education qualification?

Paytm's founder earned a B.Tech degree in Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering.

What is the salary of the Paytm CEO?

Paytm's founder and CEO get compensation of INR 4 Cr, including payments or lease, rent, and accommodation.

What is the market capitalization of Paytm?

As of January 2024, Paytm has a market capitalization of $5.91 billion.

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