Paytm-The Indigenous folklore of Vijay

Written By Kritika Kukar 30/09/2017
Shortlisted Entry #14
Paytm and One97 Communication went hand in hand and created a business opportunity which was non-existent in the market and had a huge unexplored potential. The reason for this exponential growth was an immediate identification of the opportunity post demonetisation, which turned out to be a boon for Paytm. On 8th November, Vijay was busy attending a seminar, when our Prime Minister announced the demonetisation in an unscheduled live televised address to the nation. His first reaction was that he got in touch with the marketing team and booked the major advertisement space in the major newspaper brands with the tagline “Ab ATM nahi #Paytm Karo” (asking people to use Paytm), “Paytm is here” etc. This was implemented overnight. They used Narendra Modi’s image in their advertisement congratulating him on his boldest decision in the financial history of independent India. Paytm became viral and active on social media and partnered with Uber and NDTV for creating their awareness campaigning. This was the phase when Paytm grabbed the opportunity and reached out to all small vendors (pan waala, subzi waala), book stores, medium sized outlets to branded stores. They even partnered with Mumbai dabbawallas to increase their app usage. This was the point when Paytm witnessed unprecedented growth and its customer base increased astronomically. The company’s data revealed that it managed five million transactions a day and it had the offline transactions worth over 150 crores.
“Success is achieved and maintained by those who try and keep trying”. The aphorism stands true to the tenacity of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder and CEO of Paytm, who has embraced the struggle and has proved his valiance.

Vijay and his brainchild Paytm, have an exceptional journey. With his passion, dedication and determination, he has built a company which is currently valued at over $3bn in the market. After years of his creative thinking and hard work, Paytm became a tangible reality. Paytm, One97's flagship brand, and India's largest fin-tech company with digital goods and mobile commerce platform, has a sincere and steadfast fixity on outstanding customer experience centricity and customer lifetime value. He renders success of the company to the trust that he built with his customers. However, the journey was not easy for him, it turned out to be a real uphill battle which sometimes knocked him down but could not break his belief in himself.

Vijay did his schooling from a small town near Aligarh, in Uttar Pradesh, where his father was a schoolteacher and mother, a housewife. He was an unusually gifted whizz-kid of Aligarh, who passed his higher secondary school at an early age of fourteen. His school teachers pushed him to higher levels by skipping grades, since they found him to be extremely genius. It was a turning point in his life when he came out of the comfort zone of his hometown and shifted to Delhi for pursuing higher studies. He made it to Electronics and Communications course at the Delhi College of Engineering in 1994 and secured high rank in his tests.

Coming from an entirely Hindi medium schooling background, Vijay was left completely flummoxed when he encountered fashionable, attractive, socially adept and glib-tongued Delhiiets. He got relegated from a topper in school to a back-bencher in college, as he could not understand the questions asked by the professors. His lack of command over English language led him to skip lectures and spend most of his time in the computer room on internet and wool-gathering about being in Silicon Valley.

Being an ardent follower and admirer of Sabeer Bhatia and Yahoo, Vijay learnt Software Coding all by himself. When his fellow companions were busy preparing for placements, he was building a company of his own, named ‘XS’. His exalted interest in coding directed him to build a whole Content Management System of his own, which was put to use by huge publications then, ‘The Indian Express’ being one of them.

At the same time, he got a job offer from an MNC and he continued with it. In the interim, Vijay sold his company to pay off the loan taken by his father, in 1999. However, at the back of his mind, he could never forget the idea to join the Silicon Valley which made him quit his job after working for six months. After that he started his own company with his friends and eventually he cleared his college examinations as well. But the struggle did not end here. There is a downfall in the PLC curve in everyone’s life, this downfall came in his life when his partner left him bankrupt and he was forced to sell a 40% stake for Rs. 8 lakh. He was devastated. But he believed in putting everything aside and simply being strong. He was consistent, persistent and resilient not to give up so easily. He skipped meals and walked long distances for work or to attend meetings while staying at a hostel near Kashmere Gate in Delhi.

Things always get worse before they start getting better. The situation got ameliorated when Vijay started One97, the parent company of Paytm. While making a good use of internet technology for content, advertising and commerce, he contrived a way to present the idea of entering the payment network to his board to which the board was dubious. The team could not risk their money on a completely new idea which had an imaginary market. Finally, to persuade the team and make everyone believe in him, he sold 1% of his equity amounting to $2 million. And that is when Vijay’s brainchild Paytm, Pay through Mobile, was created, which turned out to be the biggest game changer start-up venture. And, since then it was never looking back for Vijay and Paytm as the new digital wallet business proved to be a real blessing for the payment ecosystem in India.
The growth of Paytm after demonetisation
Vijay promotes teamwork and collaboration and he envisions that happiness and empowerment is inevitable part of the smooth transition and easy functioning of the company. An excellent example for his compassionate management is when he gave 4% of his equity to the team, which currently amounts to around $120 million. He also ensures that people are hired for personality instead of experience, who work with their blood, sweat, tears and instil invigorated passion. Inspired and driven by a commitment to great consumer experience, he initially built a robust 24x7 customer care service for addressing the problems of customers to develop a strong connection with the customers and enable them gladly willing to put their money into the digital wallet.

With the strengthened support of the consumer trust, Paytm has become one of a handful companies worldwide to secure Series A funding exceeding several $100 million. Paytm is also a top-notch digital payment solutions provider to e-business traders using its RBI approved semi-closed wallet. Currently, Alibaba, Alipay, and SAIF are the largest investors in Paytm’s parent company One97 Communications.
The never giving up attitude and tremendous fighting spirit of Vijay, has entrusted him to be featured as the India's youngest man in the World Billionaire's List by Forbes in 2017. He is a firm believer that a man makes his own destiny. He represents the wisdom of our race and has the business acumen of a genius. His journey states that there is no shortcut to success, for achieving big, you must give it your sweat, time and dedication with perseverance. Trust me it pays off!!!

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