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Paytm Founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma Listens and Inspires On His Debut Reddit AMA: The Highlights

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Vijay Shekhar Sharma-001

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, founder of India’s biggest mobile commerce portal Paytm debuted on Reddit India with his first AMA (Ask me Anything) session. Going by the 296 positive karma he received while answering Redditors questions, it is clear that the AMA went amazingly well.

As we can see from his replies, he was humble, inspiring and his replies enthralled all.

Here we present the major highlights of this AMA session:

1) Paytm Hiring from Top College:

Whenever there was a scope, Vijay actually apologized and made sure that the error is corrected. When a Redditor complained about Paytm’s policy of hiring only from ‘top college’, Vijay assured it will be changed.

Paytm-Hiring-policy

2) Late Deliveries & Refund on Bank Account:

This was the top rated question with 73 upvotes. The user complained that some of the deliveries made by Paytm were super late, and on returning the product, the money was refunded back to the Paytm wallet, and not to the bank account. Vijay first apologized for the bad service, assured that the vendors who are providing such services are being penalized and then informed the process of refund in detail. In fact, he explained that Paytm is not earning any interest from the money which is kept in the wallet. Hence, for the user, its same as money in the bank. Having said that, he said, “I am taking a note of this feedback to offer an option to take money to bank instead of wallet in case of such refund.”, adding, “All refunds tx to bank for 0% tx fee. Cashbacks have charge as I answered in a Q below.”

Paytm-Delivery-poor

3) Significance of 197:

As we all know, Paytm’ parent company is One97, which Vijay founded in 2001. When one Redditor asked Vijay about it’s significance, he replied that during that time, BSNL/MTNL has this 197 helpline to enquire about a phone number. One97 was inspired from that. The same user asked about profitability of Paytm, and Vijay boldly replied: “profit is not short term aim, dominance is.. So may be after next year.”

4) Has wealth changed Vijay:

After getting $575 million funding from Alibaba, Paytm’s net worth has increased to $1.5 billion. When a user asked Vijay that has wealth changed anything, Vijay gave an interesting reply: “I buy all my music (instead of free downloads earlier) and I feel happy about that :)”

5) Improving Hacking Culture in India:

When a Reddit User asked Vijay about improving hacking culture in India, and related questions about bug bounty programs, he said that he regularly meets hackers and tries to understand the process. On asked about remote working, Vijay admitted that its hard to rely on those who are working remotely. He also said that he is a Perl generation programmer.

6) Paytm believes in real world experience, not degrees:

While answering one question about accepting those who have broken educational record, Vijay made it clear that it’s the real world experience they are seeking, not degrees. He said: “because exams for for writing what was written in book and not about learnings of real world. So education degrees are not discovery tool of smart people. I remember being topper in school and backbencher in engg college just because I did not understand language. (And had lot of suppli’s :)” And, his best memory of college is: “Best memory : Maths department computer centre & East Hotel days. Worst: Knowing that I have another suppli or short attendance . (happened so many times :)”

Paytm-College-Days

7) How ecommerce portals are giving such cashbacks and when will it get over?

A Redditor asked a very interesting question related with the huge number of cashbacks/discounts being offered by leading ecommerce portals. Vijay has explained the process beautifully: “raise money, give money, get money, give more money, and so on. Well now merchants & brands are funding it !” On being asked when will this party end, he said, “Last I know most of large players have money for 2-3 years. You should see China money spends and numbers. Obviously India market is much smaller value but that could give context to why such race.”

8) Paytm in Physical Stores?

Vijay said that by end of 2016, Paytm would be used as payment gateways in physical stores, across the 10 biggest Indian cities. In fact, we had earlier reported that Paytm will start QR code based cashless payments across physical stores soon. Vijay confirmed this, as he said: “We started doing it. Now in thousands of stores around Delhi/Noida. Expecting to large in 2016..”, adding, “I think 0% margin for payments is a hot idea. Lot of plans !”

paytm Physical stores

9) How does Paytm Hire people?

As per Vijay, one of the most important traits that he observes is how they take decision, and what kind of tough decisions that person can take. And, Vijay’s favorite books are biographies!

10) Monetization Of Paytm?

Vijay said, “merchants pay for marketing & we charge for payment processing.”

11) Gyan on Startups:

When one Redditor complained that he is being treated unfair in one of the partnerships he is attempting, Vijay said, “IN early days of my company, I gave 40% equity for Rs 8 Lakh ! It happened.”

12) How to learn English?

As per Vijay, English is important, and ultimately you have to learn it. Some tips he shared: “Ultimately one has to learn english. You can find fun ways like watching movies, reading newspapers or books and so on.”

13) Real value of the Wallet business?

Vijay said that ultimately, wallets will become the gateway to financial services. Hence, its importance is immense. When asked on which other startups he can bet his money on, he replied: “Other tech companies I love are Practo, Ola, Grofers”

14) Three most important things for a startup?

As per Vijay, these are:

  • People == lot of young and worthy talent.
  • Investors == All types & kind of investors for cheques from Rs 5 Lakh to $500Mn
  • Exits == Finally there is a way out beyond an IPO.”

15) Startup bubble in India?

On the question of “when will the bubble burst, Vijay said, “”About to” is too short a cycle. That said, next round for everyone is getting tougher. Smart ones raised money in time. May there be more “bubbles, so that we see tide of change agents.”

startup buuble

16) Experience with Ratan Tata?

Vijay said, “Ratan Tata is as pleasing as a Banyan tree in the middle of desert. So humble & down to earth.”

17) India or Abroad? Bangalore or Delhi?

Vijay clearly said that despite having opportunities abroad, he chose India in 1998, and the results are out. On being asked to compare, he said Bangalore has more startup people (interesting reply, considering that his office is headquartered in Noida.)

18) Why 4% charge on transferring money to banks?

Vijay replied: “You know that when money comes to paytm network we pay upto 2% and adding freebies etc it makes even costlier to bring money upto 5%. So when it goes out of paytm network, we neutralise this cost and charge 4%. Funding wallet is zero cost ! P2P remains zero cost.”

Besides these, there were several other interesting replies from Vijay such as concerning his favorite book (Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson); his motivation and drive, his biggest fear and more.

You can checkout the complete AMA here; and if you want to only read Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s replies, then you can visit here.

Earlier, we had covered Reddit AMAs of Deepinder Goyal, founder of Zomato; Mobikwik co-founder Bipin Singh; Freecharge’s Founder Kunal Shah and ex-CEO of Housing.com, Rahul Yadav.

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