Paytm’s Vijay Shekhar Sharma: From ‘ineligible’ bachelor to billionaire

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NEW DELHI: At 27, Vijay Shekhar Sharma was making 10,000 rupees ($134.30) a month, a modest wage that didn’t assist his marriage prospects.
“In 2004-05, my father requested me to close my firm and take up a job even when it was for 30,000 rupees,” Sharma, who went on to discovered digital funds agency Paytm in 2010, instructed Reuters.
On the time, the educated engineer offered cellular content material through a small firm.
“Households of potential brides would by no means name us again after discovering out that I earn round 10,000 rupees a month,” Sharma stated. “I had turn into an ineligible bachelor for my household.”
Final week, the 43-year-old Sharma led Paytm’s $2.5 billion preliminary public providing (IPO). The fintech agency has turn into the toast of a brand new India, the place the first-generation of the nation’s startups are making stellar inventory market debuts and minting new millionaires.
Born to a college instructor father and a house maker mom in a small metropolis in India’s most populous Uttar Pradesh state, Sharma, who grew to become India’s youngest billionaire in 2017, nonetheless loves having tea at a roadside cart and sometimes takes quick morning walks to purchase milk and bread.
“For a very long time my dad and mom had no thought what their son was doing,” Sharma stated of the time China’s Ant Group first invested in Paytm in 2015. “As soon as my mom examine my web value in a Hindi newspaper and requested me, ‘Vijay do you actually have the sort of cash they are saying you’ve gotten?'”
Forbes places Sharma’s web value at $2.4 billion.
“What are my odds?”
Paytm started simply over a decade in the past as a cellular recharge firm and grew shortly after ride-hailing agency Uber listed it as a fast fee choice in India. Its use leapfrogged in 2016 when India’s shock ban on high-value forex notes boosted digital funds.
Paytm, which additionally counts SoftBank and Berkshire Hathaway as its backers, has since branched out into companies together with insurance coverage and gold gross sales, film and flight ticketing, and financial institution deposits and remittances.
Whereas Paytm pioneered digital funds in India, the house quickly grew to become crowded as Google, Amazon, WhatsApp and Walmart’s PhonePe launched fee companies to seize a slice of a market anticipated to develop to greater than $95.29 trillion by the top of March 2025, in keeping with EY.
That push by world giants gave Sharma a uncommon second of doubt, which he raised with SoftBank’s tycoon billionaire founder Masayoshi Son.
“I referred to as up Masa and stated – now everybody’s right here, what do you assume are my odds?”
Son, an early investor in Yahoo! and Alibaba, instructed Sharma to “increase more cash, double down and go all in” and focus all his vitality on constructing funds, in contrast to rivals which had different major companies.
Sharma, who’s married and has a son, stated he has by no means appeared backed since.
Whereas some market analysts have issues over when Paytm will flip worthwhile, Sharma is assured of his firm’s success.
In 2017, Paytm launched a invoice funds app in Canada and a 12 months later entered Japan with a cellular pockets.
“My dream is to take the Paytm flag to San Francisco, New York, London, Hong Kong and Tokyo. And when individuals see it they are saying – you already know what, that is an Indian firm,” Sharma stated.

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