How Paytm CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma Went From Making Rs. 10,000

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Paytm Founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma was 27 years old and earning Rs. 10,000 a month, a pittance that did not help his marriage prospects.

“In 2004-05, my father encouraged me to close my company and accept a job, even if it was only for 30,000 rupees,” Sharma told Reuters. Sharma later founded the digital payments firm Paytm in 2010.

At the time, the skilled engineer worked for a small company that supplied mobile content. “After finding out that I make roughly 10,000 rupees a month, potential brides’ families would never call us back,” Sharma claimed. “For my family, I had become an ineligible bachelor.”

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, 43, spearheaded Paytm’s $2.5 billion (approximately Rs. 18,515 crore) initial public offering last week (IPO). The fintech firm has become the toast of a new India, as the country’s first-generation companies are soaring to new heights on the stock market and creating new millionaires.

Sharma, who became India’s youngest billionaire in 2017, was born in a small city in India’s most populous state, Uttar Pradesh, to a schoolteacher father and a homemaker mother. Sharma, who became India’s youngest billionaire in 2017, still enjoys drinking tea from a roadside cart and going for short morning walks to buy milk and bread.

When China’s Ant Group first invested in Paytm in 2015, Sharma remarked, “For a long time, my parents had no idea what their son was doing.” “When my mother saw my net worth in a Hindi newspaper, she asked, “Vijay, do you really have the type of money they say you have?”

Sharma net worth is estimated to be $2.4 billion by Forbes (roughly Rs. 17,775 crore).

“What are my odds?”

Paytm began as a cellphone recharge startup just over a decade ago and exploded in popularity after Uber listed it as a rapid payment option in India. Its popularity skyrocketed in 2016, following India’s surprise ban on high-value currency notes, which promoted digital payments.

Paytm has since expanded into services including insurance and gold sales, movie and aircraft ticketing, and bank deposits and remittances, with SoftBank and Berkshire Hathaway as investors.

While Paytm was the first to introduce digital payments to India, the space quickly became crowded as Google, Amazon, WhatsApp, and Walmart’s PhonePe all launched payment services to compete for a piece of a market that EY estimates will grow to more than $95.29 trillion (roughly Rs. 70,57,41,560 crore) by the end of March 2025.

Sharma had a rare moment of worry as a result of the global giants’ campaign, which he shared with SoftBank’s tycoon billionaire founder Masayoshi Son.

“I called Masa and asked, ‘Now that everyone’s here, what do you think my chances are?'”

Unlike competitors who had other core businesses, Son, an early investor in Yahoo! and Alibaba, advised Sharma to “raise more money, double down, and go all-in” and focus all of his work on creating payments.

Sharma, who is married with a son, said he hasn’t looked back since. While some analysts are concerned about when Paytm will become profitable, Sharma is optimistic about the company’s future.

Paytm introduced a bill payment service in Canada in 2017 and a mobile wallet in Japan a year later.

“My ambition is to fly the Paytm flag in cities such as San Francisco, New York, London, Hong Kong, and Tokyo. When people see that, they remark, “You know what, that’s an Indian company,” and they’re right “Sharma stated his opinion.

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