Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Vijay Shekhar Sharma is a multimillionaire business magnate from India who founded One97 Communications and its consumer brand Paytm, a digital payments and financial services company. In 1997, he launched his first website, indiasite.net, and sold it for $1 million in 1999. He founded Paytm in 2010 and plans to make it India's largest IPO in November 2021. He has also invested in a number of technology startups and received numerous awards and accolades for his entrepreneurial achievements.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma's childhood was marked by perseverance and ambition, shaped by both difficulties and dreams. He was born on July 8, 1978, in Aligarh, a small town in Uttar Pradesh, India, into a modest family with limited financial resources. Despite economic challenges, Sharma's childhood was marked by a deep fascination with technology and a thirst for knowledge.
He displayed an entrepreneurial spirit from a young age, selling firecrackers during Diwali to earn extra money. His interest in technology led him to study computer science, but financial constraints posed significant challenges. Undaunted, Sharma worked tirelessly to obtain scholarships that enabled him to attend college.
Throughout his college years, he dabbled in a variety of ventures and experimented with novel ideas. When he founded One97 Communications, the parent company of Paytm, in 2000, his journey took a transformative turn. Sharma overcame the challenges of the early dot-com era and transformed Paytm into one of India's leading digital payment platforms through sheer determination and vision.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma's childhood experiences, as well as his unwavering pursuit of his dreams, have shaped him into a trailblazing entrepreneur and visionary leader in the technology and finance sectors. His incredible journey from small-town boy to prominent business magnate exemplifies the power of perseverance, self-belief, and a willingness to embrace opportunities. His story continues to inspire countless aspiring entrepreneurs, demonstrating that overcoming adversity and achieving extraordinary success can be accomplished with passion and resilience.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma was a child prodigy who began college at the age of fifteen. He received his B.Tech degree in engineering from the Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University) when he was 19 years old. He had some difficulties in college because he came from a Hindi-speaking family and had to learn English. He also had to work part-time to help finance his studies.
Sharma began his career while still a student at the Delhi College of Engineering in 1997. He launched his first website, indiasite.net, which provided Indian-related information and services. He sold the website to a US-based company for $1 million two years later.
He founded One97 Communications in 2000, offering mobile content such as news, cricket scores, ringtones, jokes, and exam results at first. He also created Paytm Brain, a voice recognition software that allowed users to interact with their phones through voice commands.
Sharma launched Paytm, a mobile wallet that allowed users to make payments with their smartphones, in 2010. The service quickly became popular among millions of Indians who did not have access to formal banking or credit cards. Paytm has also collaborated with a number of merchants, utilities, e-commerce platforms, and government agencies to enable digital transactions for a variety of goods and services.
Paytm received a significant boost in 2016 when the Indian government announced a demonetization policy that rendered most cash in circulation invalid. As a result, there was a huge demand for cashless payment options, and Paytm emerged as the preferred option for millions of Indians. Paytm has also expanded its platform with new features such as bill payments, ticket bookings, money transfers, insurance, loans, and mutual funds.
Sharma made headlines in 2018 when he convinced Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway to invest $300 million in Paytm, valuing the company at $10 billion. This was Berkshire Hathaway's first investment in an Indian company, and it demonstrated the company's belief in Paytm's growth potential.
Paytm will go public on the Indian stock exchange in November 2021, raising $2.5 billion at a valuation of $19 billion. This was the largest IPO in Indian history, and it was a watershed moment for Sharma and his team. However, Paytm's stock price dropped sharply following its listing, owing to concerns about its profitability and competition.
In addition to Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has spearheaded various other successful ventures under the One97 umbrella. These include Paytm Mall, an e-commerce platform that competes with industry giants like Amazon and Flipkart. Furthermore, he established Paytm Payments Bank, a digital bank providing customers with a range of financial products such as savings accounts and debit cards. Another notable venture is Paytm Money, an online platform enabling users to invest in mutual funds, stocks, and other securities. Vijay's entrepreneurial prowess also led to the creation of Paytm First Games, offering a diverse array of casual and fantasy games. Moreover, Paytm Insider is another innovative platform curated by him, providing access to tickets for events, movies, and various experiences. Through these ventures, Sharma has demonstrated his knack for creating versatile and impactful businesses, solidifying his position as a visionary entrepreneur in India's thriving digital landscape.
Sharma is also an active angel investor who has supported several technology startups in India and around the world. Ola, India's largest ride-hailing service; Unacademy, an online education platform; Innov8, a co-working space provider; Milkbasket, an online grocery delivery service; Rooter, a sports community platform; Zomato, an online food delivery service; and GOQii, a smart wearable device maker are among his notable investments.
Honors and Recognition
Sharma has received numerous awards and accolades for his entrepreneurial accomplishments and social impact. Among them are:
- Received the Best Serial Entrepreneur Award at the Rural and Urban Development Summit and Awards 2022, which were presented by the Minister of State for Housing and Urban Affairs of the Government of India.
- Forbes magazine named him the Youngest Indian Billionaire in 2017.
- In 2018, AIMA (All India Management Association) named him Entrepreneur of the Year.
- Named one of Time Magazine's 2017 100 Most Influential People.
- In 2016, The Economic Times named him ET Entrepreneur of the Year.
- Named by GQ as one of the 50 most influential young Indians in 2017.
- In 2017, he was named Dataquest IT Man of the Year.
- In 2016, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Amity University in Gurgaon.
- In 2016, he was awarded the Yash Bharati, Uttar Pradesh's highest state civilian award.
- Named Businessman of the Year at the 2016 GQ Men of the Year Awards.
“If you don’t give yourself a chance, who will? If you don’t take a chance, who will? and I think you should take a chance on you.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“I think I’ve been lucky that in my life I had to take risks without even thinking of downfalls because I did not start with a lot of things that I could have lost.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“What we’ve changed in this country is that now you don’t need to actually carry a wallet, or a card, or a currency.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“The Uber of India is Uber. The Google of India is Google. I can sign it on a wall that the Paypal of India will not be Paypal.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“If you’re up against a big guy, ignore the big guy.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
“The big giants (companies ) with the deep pockets (money) never win the war. Microsoft didn’t win the search war. Search didn’t win the social war. Social didn’t win the messaging war.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
Vijay Shekhar Sharma is one of India's most successful and influential entrepreneurs, and his vision and innovation have revolutionized the digital payments and financial services sectors. He has also had a positive social impact by providing millions of Indians with easy and affordable payment options. He is a role model for young Indians and an inspiration to many aspiring entrepreneurs.
“You are what your situations make you.” ~Vijay Shekhar Sharma
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