Two words that come to almost every Indian’s mind while Shopping, Post demonetization, were “Paytm karo.” Paytm was a revolutionary idea and product which brought a paradigm shift in the retail industry by completely transforming the payment methodology. The success story of Paytm is filled with hard-work and dedication, and the story is nothing but an inspirational fairy-tale for all the budding business enthusiasts. A small-town boy from Aligarh with a humble background, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was an exceptional student, completing his senior secondary at a very tender age of 14 and with dreams in his eyes and hard work as his only tool, his journey towards success was yet to start.
Owing to his poor English proficiency, Vijay couldn’t sit for the IIT entrance and other competitive exams, which was a big disappointment for him in his youth years, but he never lost hope. During his college life to keep up with the syllabus and course-curriculum, he had to simultaneously read two books — one in Hindi, the other in English to understand the course material, which he found very difficult to master, but gradually aced.Vijay passed out of Delhi College of Engineering at an early age of 19 and his current English proficiency meant he could hardly understand what was taught in class. This led him to spend a lot of time in the Computer Room, browsing the internet and dreaming about being in Silicon Valley, the mecca for worldwide innovation.
While most young and bright engineering graduates were excited about the prospect of being placed, Vijay had built his first company- ‘XS Communications’, a college-based startup that created Content Management Systems. By then, he had learnt to code all by himself and had designed a Content Management System that was being used by several major publications including The Indian Express, which was an achievement for a college graduate, when compared to his peers.
Pursuing towards building a business empire and in the process of setting up One97, Vijay once ended up with a loan of Rs. 8 lakhs. A huge amount for a common man back in the days, he had taken the principal amount at 24% interest, which got him into a vicious cycle of unpayable debt. This forced him to take up petty jobs to make ends meet, setting up LAN connections, delivering guest lectures and so on. But Vijay never lost hope, instead persisted towards pushing towards his dream.
India was undergoing a rigorous technologization and simultaneously India’s telecom infrastructure was improving, holding on to this opportunity Vijay took a leap of faith and approached various investors for his grand endeavor. However, Vijay’s investors were not confident about the idea of a mobile-first consumer service that would cater to the masses. Remaining undeterred with his will and passion towards bringing a technological reform, he personally put $2 Mn at stake to finally launching the brand. And the rest, as they say, is history.