Incredible Journey of Vijay Shekhar Sharma

From being a small-town boy from Aligarh to the founder of one of India’s most trusted technology brands Paytm, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has come a very long way. Life tested him right from the beginning of his entrepreneur journey to become one of the most influential people in the Indian business world today.

The man Vijay Shekhar Sharma, who always wears a welcoming smile, stands true to every word he writes during the most difficult period of his life. Nothing came easy for him there was a time when he was struggling to make ends meet and today he owns a company whose current value is a little over $10 billion in 2018.

Early Life

Vijay Sharma was an exceptional student in secondary school, but a topper in his school was lost in transition in college. Coming from a very humble background, he did not know how to write and read English as he completed most of his school education mainly in Hindi.

However, he soon realized that to make it through college he must start learning the English language. However, this would only be the start of a long journey to success for the young boy from Aligarh.


His modus operandi was to read 2 books at the same time, a Hindi version of the book simultaneously with the English-one. But it was not an easy task, the first-bencher in school slowly started gravitating towards the backbenches as he could hardly understand what was taught in class.

After some time Vijay was so disillusioned and disheartened with his bad grades, mostly due to language constraints that he completely stopped attending classes. During this period he spent most of his time in the college computer room, browsing the internet and dreaming about being in the mecca for worldwide innovation, the Silicon Valley.

Startup in college

While most of the young and bright engineering students were excited about the prospect of being placed in big companies, Vijay decided to be an entrepreneur. He made the internet his playground while making Yahoo and Sabeer Bhatia his inspirations.

He had learnt to code all by himself and built his first company XS Communications a college-based startup that created content management systems with some of his college mates. After some time his company`s content was being used by some of the biggest news publications including The Indian Express.

This period also become one of the toughest times in his life as his dreams of reaching the Silicon Valley has shattered. In 2005, he had raised the first round of funding of Rs 8 lakhs for his start-up but soon was left bankrupt by his partners. He was shattered and devastated after this setback, but Vijay was not a man to give up so easily.

During this time he lived in a hostel near Kashmiri Gate in Delhi, most of the time he skipped meals to save money and walked long distances to attend work or meetings.


For Vijay, things started to look better when he founded One97 Communications the parent company of Paytm, in 2000. At that time there are less than 10 million Indians who know about the internet.


His company offers ringtones, Bollywood movie songs and search services before landing on the idea of digital payments. The big turning moment for him came in 2011 when he first pitched the idea of entering the payment ecosystem in front of his board.

Initially, the board was not convinced by his idea as he was talking about betting the company’s money on a non-existent market at that time. To convince his board he put 1% of his equity, which was about $2 million round in 2011, on the table and said, “if I waste company`s  money that we put on the site, this is for all of you,”


With his willpower and self-belief, Vijay launches the first avatar of Paytm. Soon this Pay Through Mobile app become the next big thing in the Indian start-up ecosystem in India. Since then it was no looking back. The rest, as they say, is history.

Paytm business suddenly soared in November 2016 when Narendra Modi government eliminated 500- and 1,000-rupee banknotes in a bid to end corruption. Overnight, Paytm went from a new thing to a must-have as with a stroke of a pen, more than 75% of country’s paper money disappeared.

Backed by consumer trust, Vijay Sharma`s Paytm stupendous journey to the top of the internet wallet market is now a part of startup folklore in India. What is unknown is that Paytm is among some of the handful of companies all over the World to secure Series A funding exceeding several $100 million.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Life has been really busy for Vijay Sharma ever since he entered college. He is a true lover of all kinds of music and is a huge fan of Jim Morrison, Coldplay and U2. He is also the resident DJ at One97 parties and often forcing his colleagues and teammates to listen to the music he likes and discovers.

Read also: Rags to Riches Story of Starbucks Howard Schultz


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