Vijay Shekhar Sharma has gone through some amazing ups and downs in his lifetime. He’s faced multiple challenges and has overcome them with great gusto and will. He was a small-town guy, Hindi-medium educated and a shy student. He was a ‘keetabi keeda’ in his own words. He was said to have been so sensitive that he would get offended if his seniors would yell out ‘oye’ to him.
He loves working in the open and doesn’t have any cabin or table that’s fixed to him. He doesn’t like to show off or create too much noise when he accomplishes a big win. Worth billions of dollars today, he’s made a mark in the field of inspiring millions through his actions.
But what were the challenges that he had to face along the way? Growing up, he had to work harder than the other kids and translate most of the curriculum from Hindi to English.
He could have given up, but he didn’t, and instead chose to start a company that was later acquired for more than 1 crore rupees in 1999. But instead of continuing to work there, he wanted to build something from ground up and not be chained to golden shackles.
The next chapter of his life came in the form of a Rs 8 lakh loan, with a 24% interest, which created a lot of problems for him personally. He had to take a break from developing One97 and focus on taking up odd jobs to pay back the loan. He worked harder than ever and finally got his balance back to continue building his company.
“Some other entrepreneur would have sold the equity and started their own company. But I aspire to build a 100-year-old company. I think that men and boys are different because the boys flip and sell. Men run and build legacies,” he once told Businessinsider.
Vijay had a vision of building India’s first $100 Billion company and he knew that the way to get there would be through trust. He wanted to create a product that could instill trust in one consumer, who would recommend it to 10 others. This was the strategy Paytm followed as it grew rapidly, especially after the demonetization turnaround.
"Thirty percent of the company's campaign budget is invested in building trust with the customer. For us it was the single most important factor. We propagated through word of mouth once the trust was built. I have a firm belief that the truest relationship test comes when one goes through a stress case. This makes our relationship with our customers special and unique than the rest. We also launched in Twitter and Facebook so that as soon as a customer complained, we got back with an immediate response and help. Trust is the secret formula which worked for us, though there were 30 other licences already available in the market like Mobikwik,” Economic Times quotes him as saying.
Trust and customer-service was the main reason why PayTM became widely successful when few others could.
What’s Vijay’s advice to startup founders who want to take it to the next level?
Use speed as your friend and not your enemy. You want to try many things and see what sticks, because timing is key when you’re building a startup.
“Yeah, I always wanted to build something, I had this strong urge to fly. See every Company has a strategy. What makes the difference is how well and quickly you try to pursue it. People often don't move fast on that. They become complacent. And I think, the winner is the one who is paranoid about moving fast,” he says.