One cannot expect life to be a cake walk and achieve heights without facing hurdles. We learn this by looking at lives of people around us. Raised and spent his childhood in a small town of Aligarh, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has come a long way before becoming the CEO of one of India’s biggest startup. His life story is the perfect example of the fact that if you are true to your dreams and keep working hard, results are bound to change in your favour.
Vijay was a happy-go lucky, geeky in studies, and a fun guy during his childhood. But, life had other plans for him. When he entered Delhi College of Engineering, this former school topper felt as an outsider in his own college. His struggling days started right from the first day of college. Having studied in a Hindi-medium school all his life meant he had to work doubly-hard to appear for entrance exams like IIT by translating all his engineering books from Hindi to English.
He was such a good student in his school in Aligarh that he completed STD 12 by the time he turned 14. But when teachers asked him questions in English, he always faced a language barrier. This gradually made him move to the back benches. He remembers how most of the time through his college, he was always on his own without any close-friends to share his ordeal with.
Language barrier got him a couple of supplementaries in the first year of his college, which made it difficult for him to appear in the campus placements. But, this came as a blessing in disguise. When every other classmate of his was preparing for placements, he was busy building his own company called XS, a content management system, which was used by various publications, The Indian Express being one of them.
When he was establishing One97, he had no angel investors or venture capitalists to back him. Eventually, he sold off his company XS to get the work rolling in for One97. To make things more difficult, his two partners left and he was on his own to build and grow the company. During the initial days, the struggle was so much, he couldn’t afford decent meals for himself.
Struggling to make ends meet, he remembers the days when he used to walk 14 km a day, as he couldn’t afford bus tickets. Add to all this, he had to pay 24 percent interest rate on Rs 8 lakh loan that he had taken to run the company.
Even though almost everything else was going wrong for him, Vijay didn’t lose his way and instead took up odd jobs to keep the company running. He was setting up LAN for domestic and corporates and taking up guest lectures at educational institutes. On the basis of such ordeals, One97 is now a pioneer in e-wallets in india that went on to become a banking institution. What started as a phone recharge and bus ticket portal, now has an entire marketplace to itself. They claim to hold 80 percent of mobile wallet business in India.
The investors’ list in Paytm has some of the biggest names in the industry from Jack Ma, Soft Bank Asia, Ratan Tata, Intel Capital, and Silicon Valley Bank. Vijay always claimed his company’s success is largely attributed to his team, which he proved by awarding them four percent shares, which translates to roughly $120 million. Yet modest to his roots, he still wants to be known as the in-house DJ of Paytm parties.
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