Vijay Shekhar Sharma

The Visionary Behind India's Digital Revolution
Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Vijay Shekhar Sharma

The Visionary Behind India's Digital Revolution

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, a tech entrepreneur and business magnate, has played a pivotal role in shaping India's digital landscape.

As the founder, chairman, and managing director of One97 Communications, the parent company of Paytm, his journey from a small town in Uttar Pradesh to becoming a billionaire entrepreneur is nothing short of inspirational.

However, in 2024, he stepped down from his role as part-time non-executive chairman and board member of Paytm Payments Bank due to regulatory challenges with the Reserve Bank of India.

Early Life and Education

Born on 7 June 1978 in Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh, Vijay Shekhar Sharma hails from a humble background. His parents, Sulom Prakash Sharma, a school teacher, and Asha Sharma, a homemaker, instilled in him the values of hard work and perseverance from a young age. He pursued his early education in Harduaganj, a small town near Aligarh.

What sets Vijay apart is his prodigious intellect. He began his college life at the age of 15. He graduated as an engineer with a B.Tech degree from the Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University) at just 19 years old. This early academic achievement laid the foundation for his future endeavours.

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The Entrepreneurial Journey

Vijay Shekhar Sharma's entrepreneurial journey began in college when he started the website in 1997. Remarkably, he sold the website just two years later for an impressive sum of US$1 million. Undeterred by success at such a young age, he embarked on his next venture.

In 2000, he founded One97 Communications, which initially focused on providing mobile content such as news, cricket scores, ringtones, jokes, and exam results. Little did he know that this venture would eventually lead to the creation of Paytm, one of India's most prominent digital payments and financial services platforms.

The Birth of Paytm

In 2010, Vijay Shekhar Sharma launched Paytm as a consumer brand under One97 Communications. Paytm revolutionised digital payments in India, making it convenient and accessible to millions. With a commitment to financial inclusion, Paytm empowered people across the country to transact digitally, pay bills, and recharge their mobile phones effortlessly.

A Trailblazing IPO

In November 2021, Paytm made history by going public, raising an astounding $2.5 billion at a valuation of $19 billion. This milestone marked India's largest initial public offering at that time, underscoring Paytm's significance in the country's fintech ecosystem.

Beyond Business

Vijay Shekhar Sharma is not just an astute entrepreneur; he is also an angel investor who actively supports tech startups. His contributions extend to education as well.

He recently joined the board of management at Netaji Subhas University of Technology in Delhi, where he will contribute to the advancement of the university's educational initiatives over the next three years.

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Awards and Recognition

Vijay Shekhar Sharma's exceptional contributions have earned him numerous accolades, including being ranked as the Youngest Indian Billionaire by Forbes magazine.

He was named the Entrepreneur of the Year by AIMA in 2018 and featured in Time Magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in 2017. His achievements have been celebrated by The Economic Times, GQ, and various other prestigious organisations.

Personal Life and Philanthropy

Vijay Shekhar Sharma is married to Mridula Parashar Sharma, and they are proud parents. He draws inspiration from visionaries like Alibaba's Jack Ma and Softbank's Masayoshi Son. In February 2022, Sharma faced a legal hurdle when he was arrested for a traffic incident but was later released on bail.

Beyond his professional endeavours, Vijay Shekhar Sharma has been named as the UN Environment's 'Patron for Clean Air.' In this role, he advocates for environmental action and awareness, aligning with the goals of the United Nations Environment's global Breathe Life campaign.

Vijay Shekhar Sharma's remarkable journey from a small town to becoming a tech billionaire is a testament to his unwavering determination, innovation, and commitment to transforming India's digital landscape. His vision and contributions continue to leave an indelible mark on the nation's technology and business landscape.

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