“I knew I would build a company and a product that would be useful to people and stand out in the market” said Vijay Shekhar Sharma founder One97 Communications which incubated PayTM- an acronym for Pay Through Mobile, one of the fastest growing e-commerce websites and most popular online destinations for prepaid mobile & DTH recharges and shopping. Vijay Shekhar Sharma is a young and dynamic business stalwart who is extremely positive and is an inspiration to the young generation.
Born and brought up in a small town of Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh; he has risen high to become the Founder of the $1.5 billion PayTM. The initial days were not as tough for Vijay as he is blessed with a supportive and encouraging family. He was the topper of his school and finished his schooling two years before the rest and got admissions to the engineering college at the age of 15, again far ahead of his age. Vijay and his friends co-founded a company in college itself which provided services to internet based companies. Within a year’s time they saw success and had a turnover of Rs. 50 Lakhs which they sold to a US based entrepreneur and started working there in 1999.
The road to success consists of many barriers and so did his; his journey to success was not easy and had many ups and downs; and now, not only does he hold the ownership of India’s most successful internet business, but is also the Founder of One97 Communications, which is the parent company of PayTM, and several other products like mPandit, oc2ps, Oorja, etc.
After completing his college and selling off his company, Vijay also went on to work for almost two years for companies like RiverRun Software Group (Business Development), Intersolutions India Pvt Ltd (Technical Team), India Today Group Online (Technical Head), and lastly Startec Global Systems, India (Chief Technical Officer). While he was working he realised that job was something which was not meant for him and wanted to something of his own which made him quit his job. After leaving his job he was still left with deciding on what exactly he wanted to do. So he researched and after a lot of brainstorming he realised that many internet based companies were not able to make money and suffered a loss out of it and the mobile industry had a lot of potential and was an upcoming one.
Therefore, without wasting any further time, with the money that was left with him from the sale of his earlier business, and along with his friend and colleague, Rajiv Shukla, Vijay started One97 Communications Ltd in 2000. It delivers mobile content and commerce services to millions of mobile consumers through India’s most widely deployed telecom applications cloud platform.
One97 was one of the first VAS companies to offer services life Astrology services, Music Messaging on mobiles, SMS based applications & businesses, ringtones, caller-tunes, games, contests, similar services on landlines, etc. In the span of few years; On97 became the favorite of every kind of business which required mobile content to be promoted.
Times were changing and the Indian market was now becoming more mature and had also adapted well with the use of mobile services. The internet market was also booming and at the same time, the VAS market was dropping drastically which lead to a downfall in the business. But Vijay decided that before there is a major crisis they should change their course of action and to do something which is bigger than all of that.
Creation of PayTM proved to be an unbelievable step for the company. It changed the game of the company, it all began when One97, with the help of a 4-member team designed and launched their first ever mobile commerce platform in August 2009. But this time they wanted to be very careful and avoid any sort of mistake. So after a lot of trial & errors they launched – “www.paytmonline.com” in the month of August of 2010.
PayTM short for Pay “Through Mobile” incubated by One97 in the most simplified terms was nothing but a medium through which anybody could recharge or pay majorly all their bills. The best advantage that the company had was that it didn’t have to rely on venture capitalists for funds and could just walk up to its father a.k.a. One97 for it.
As the times were changing and so was the market, PayTM also was forced to change its strategies. They used several marketing strategies which were unique and bold. They launched multiple radio ads, released many offers and schemes for the users and initiated net banking. They also launched first of its kind toll free number “1800-1800-1234” for recharges followed by PayTM mobile apps, etc.
As the company gained popularity they decided to make few more changes to the program which will help them up their game in the market, some of which included: –
- They added their first ever GPS-tracking system
- They also added NH-8 toll-card recharge, bus ticket booking, income tax returns filing and also re-launched their earlier called GamesPind under Paytm Games.
- Launching of money wallets was a major change. These wallets could store money and customers could pay from it.
With all these amazing changes PayTM grew rapidly and was now the largest digital e-commerce company in India. It has become the most preferred mode of payment across leading consumer internet companies.
Image Credit : www.allindiacoupons.com
Joint venture and other investments
Over the period of years; Vijay, On97 & PayTM collectively have made quite a few investments & acquisitions, some of which include:
- Sourceeasy: – It is a web platform that enables designers and brands to get their apparel manufactured and delivered to them.
- ZAPR: – It is one of the world’s first media consumption repositories and cross-targeting platforms.
- GrexIt: – It is software facilitating email collaboration by allowing users to share email labels and collaborate from their inbox.
- Milaap: – It is a crowd-funding platform for causes and allows individuals and institutions to make a difference to the cause they care for.
- Dexetra: – It is a developing smartphone application to augment human memory and create a new dimension for self-discovery.
- TheMobileGamer (TMG): – It provides emerging markets, including South East Asia and India with mobile social gaming technologies.
- LeapSky Wireless: – It is a Singapore-based company that provides 3G/Wi-Fi based mobile data services.
- CIQUAL: – It offers Session Insight, a system that delivers a real-time, dynamic view of mobile broadband service and user experience.
- Jugnoo: – It is a hyperlocal marketplace providing everything on-demand
- Plustxt : It is a text messaging app optimized for Indian languages and allows fast text messaging in any Indian language – as well as language keyboards. It was acquired by One97 Communications in 2013.
- Vijay Shekhar Sharma is recognized among the most Innovative CEOs of 2014 by Inc India (2015)
- PayTM Wallet gets the “Best Digital Wallet Award” at IAMAI’ India Digital Awards (2015)
- PayTM gets recognized among Delhi/NCR’s Top 50 Brands at a celebration by Paulwriter (2014)
- One97 features in Inc. India Innovative100 list (2013)
- PayTM was recognized as the ‘Most Innovative Start-up of the Year’ at the Entrepreneur India event organized by Franchise India (2012)