Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO and founder of Paytm joined us for an interesting conversation on his journey with Paytm and his thoughts on the evolving India startup ecosystem. Starting from the early days with One97 in feature phones, Vijay discussed how the dawn of the smartphone world led him to build a mobile first payment solution for the India market to now with 100 million subscribers in India. In the same conversation, Vijay discussed his journey from a startup founder to now a business leader in India and shared his perspectives behind the thinking process in why Paytm has recently obtained the first payments bank licence, his investment thesis in startups and where he see the company moving towards in a few years time. He shared his candid thoughts on the recent Startup India initiatives from President Modi, the outcome of the TRAi’s ban on Facebook’s free basics, the Indian startup ecosystem in the next 5 years and what keeps him up in the night.
Here are the interesting show notes and links to the discussion (with time-stamps included):
- Vijay Shekhar Sharma, CEO and founder of Paytm (wikipedia), India’s largest mobile commerce platform with 100m registered users (LinkedIn, @vijayshekhar)
- How did he get started in technology business? [1:00]
- In your journey with One97 and Paytm, what are the interesting lessons he has learned as a startup founder and now scaling the business as a business leader in India? [1:45]
- Who are your role models when he grew Paytm towards an important Internet conglomerate in India? [3:31]
- Reference: Paytm is invested by Alibaba.
- PayTM is originally incubated from One97 Communications and it is known Vijay saw the mobile first world (smartphone) far earlier than many people in the Indian startup ecosystem. How did the idea come about and what is the problem that you are trying to solve with Paytm? [4:05]
- What is the mission and vision for Paytm? [5:40]
- How does Paytm (iOS, Android) work for the Indian consumer? [6:43]
- We understand that Paytm commands at least 80% market share among wallet users and offer many services for the Indian consumer from mobile phone recharging, insurance, ecommerce to entertainment. Is Paytm becoming a platform similar to how Alipay is like in China? [8:55]
- How does overseas companies and local Indian startups gain access Paytm’s platform and payment option via API? [9:33]
- PayTM has recently obtained a banking license to be the first payments bank. What is the thought process behind obtaining that license and how does this expand PayTM’s coverage in both E and M-commerce? [10:07]
- One interesting aspect of Paytm, is that you set aside funds to invest in startups, for example, Jugnoo and LogiNext, similar to how One97 has done for PayTM initially, how is your view and horizon on the venture capital investments? [11:46]
- What are the traits Vijay seek in a founder from the perspective of venture capital investments? [12:35]
- You have said that you want to grow Paytm into becoming an Internet conglomerate, which will be similar to the Baidu-Alibaba-Tencent (BAT) in China, how did you come to this view and is there where you see the company heading towards? [13:03]
- Vijay’s thoughts on the India Startup Ecosystem, the recent outcome of Facebook’s Free Basics in India and what keeps him up at night.
- With the recent announcement by Prime Minister Modi on various startup initiatives, what is the impact on India’s startup ecosystem and businesses, particularly in the area of foreign direct investments? [15:38]
- Unlike China, India is an open market with external competitors entering the market. How does Indian startups differentiate themselves from those coming from the US? [17:36]
- With the US funds going south on the unicorn investments, Will the Indian startup ecosystem be focused on growth or profitability in the next 3 years? [19:08]
- Recently, Vijay has offered his views on the issue of Facebook’s Free Basics in India, and subsequently the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAi) has banned Facebook’s free basics, what are his thoughts on the outcome? [20:00]
- Where does Vijay see the startup ecosystem in 5 years time? [21:23]
- What keeps Vijay up in the night? [22:11]
Here’s Vijay’s quote on his twitter:
— Vijay Shekhar (@vijayshekhar) January 30, 2015
Author’s Note: We thank Vivek Mathur from SAIF Partners who has facilitated this interview.
The show is hosted by Bernard Leong (@bleongcw) and are sponsored by Ideal Workspace (Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) with their new Aspirus Desk on Indiegogo (Twitter, Facebook, Medium) and Linkcious (and check out their other product, Chiibi). Also check out Ideal Workspace’s new standing desk, Aspirus and sign up for their mailing list.