Work done in the first five months gave Paytm a strong foundation, says founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma
The team was super capable in their verticals, even though they hadn't previously worked in a startup environment, says Paytm's Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
"In 2011, I decided to do something in the smartphone space because the payments business was taking off. I was in New York and I had a friend there — a classmate with whom I had started my first company. He was working with Blackberry (formerly Research In Motion) in Canada and had come to visit me in New York. We were roaming around a park in New York and I was talking to him about the rising mobile phone penetration in India and the prospects of starting a payments business.
Both of us had studied in Delhi and he always had a problem with people asking for change (smaller denominations of money). He had a complaint that people in India don't usually return the money due to you because of lack of change with them. He asked me if I can do something about it. I told him that there are two issues we need to solve. One is that the app developers and game developers don't get small amounts because there are no payment options at present. The other is, the transactions that happen daily with a rickshaw driver or in kirana shop. How do we make all this digital? He bought into it and that is how I made my first hire—Harinder Takhar (now CEO of Paytm Labs). He came to India towards the end of 2011 and I told him to meet investors then. That was the formal beginning of Paytm.
Then there was Renu Satti, who was from a human resources background. She used to be my teammate. She wanted to do something different and I wanted someone who was fully involved and ready to do new things. I asked her if she wanted to really get into business (operations), because I knew there will be tough times ahead. I told her we are going to start a new segment in ecommerce and I want her on my side. These two team mates made my core team.
We also had a technology guy, who left us in due course — our first product manager, Abhishek Rajan. He was my junior at the Delhi School of Engineering and I had known him for a long time. All this happened between September 2011 and December 2011.
It worked out fine for me. They were super capable in their verticals, even though they hadn't previously worked in a startup environment. In fact, Rajan was the one who coined the name Paytm (pay through mobile). Satti, who was an HR person was heading online marketing and social media for us. The work four of us did in the first five months made a strong foundation for the company."