ATM ka baap Paytm: Transcript of full interview Part 2
In the first video , Vijay shared his journey from streets of Aligarh to dreaming about building something great in this country. The transcript of interview part 1 can be read here.
In the second video,Vijay shares his entrepreneurial journey. His life is a testament that if you have a vision,ability to work hard and persistence,everything is possible. Read the transcript of full interview of part 2 below.
Simar: So when did the idea of Paytm click you? What's the story?
VSS: It began in 2011, when Smartphones were on the rise. I told my team, “Let's build a consumer brand, where the consumer can pay through his mobile, something else other than just the content.”
One97 mainly carried out its business in content and marketing, mostly led by feature phones in those days. And then Paytm leverages Smartphone and Mobile Internet.
Simar: So you were one of the early birds in that?
VSS: I noticed that Internet Companies didn't even know what is a Mobile, and Mobile Internet was almost untouched
The Company called Jasper (Snapdeal actually) was our first client for Paytm payment platform. So I realized we need a consumer gateway for more security.
That's how Paytm happened. Initially we added things like recharges, bus tickets, bill payments, etc.. And then finally we launched Paytm Wallet in 2014; and later on a marketplace.
Simar: So you have investments from Alibaba, and Ratan Tata backing you. You have got an amazing Board of Directors including Ruchi Sanghvi, Naveen Tiwari and all. I would like to know what was your first pitch to pull investors?
VSS: See, first of all I'd like to say that when you are pitching an idea, you are effectively pitching yourself. Your body language, your confidence, the trust you have on yourself and your team, all these speak for your idea.
The investor has only a brief idea about your project. He might have a pre-opinion, but what he can clearly see is YOU; to what extent are you committed to your idea.
I can talk about Paytm for hours at stretch, be it any time of the day. I was once asked this question, “How does it feel like to work for Paytm?” I said “I feel like I am in my teens, and Paytm is my infatuation.” So I guess it is that excitement and zeal to build something that is worthwhile.
I feel so strongly about my product, I am thankful to God for letting me fetch this incredible opportunity, that he allows us to create something like this.
This country lacks people who try to solve fundamental problems. We want to solve the payment problems from their roots. When you transfer cash, you are not helping this country.
Simar: You made a statement, “We will bring half a billion to the mainstream economy. That's our vow. That's our game.”
How do you plan to financial inclusion? How do you plan to go at the bottom of the pyramid?
VSS: See most of the financial institutions that serve this country have been growing exponentially. Their growth has been such that they don't care much about the fact that their products, designs and systems serve priorly the rich ones, the ones who have deposits.
Paytm has been designed in a manner that if you have 20 bucks, you can use this money for recharge. Spend what you have, little or large. A lot of people in India don't have a sum large enough to make bank deposits. But they have enough to spend.
So our philosophy is that you can pay, buy and save using the Paytm platform. Pay is the payment part, Buy is the marketplace and Save is the bank part.
Simar: And now you have got permissions from the Reserve Bank of India too! Congratulations for the grand achievement.
VSS: Yes, thank you. It is really an honor to be able to serve this country with such a scalable opportunity. So yeah, we do want to bring half a billion Indians to the mainstream economy.
Simar: You have also targeted the problem of Corruption in your statements. Please throw some light on the matter.
VSS: I have come to realize that corruption in this country is all about the cash that is moving. So when you are moving cash, you are actually supporting corruption because one or the other moment, it will become dark cash.
Simar: And you wish to build a cashless economy. Is that your aim?
VSS: Yes. I think if in our lifetime, we are able to reduce this cash circulation to half of it, India will be way more powerful. I am just trying to play my part.
Simar: You are a globetrotter. Last year on Independence Day, you wrote “Proudly made in India”. Do you wish to remain a national Company or expand to other countries as well?
VSS: We wish to be one of those Indian conglomerates which create a global impact.
I fundamentally believe that most of the software built in our country are for the Goras (Foreigners) who are able to avail cheap labor here in India. It's so sad to see that the products available in India are crappy enough to be not called Great. We need smart people to build something great for this country too, not just to sell it to these goras.
I was being paid higher so that I could create something great, only to be sold in America. Then who are we? We are just back-office people. This is so disrespectful to our identity. We have opened an office in Toronto, Canada, so that those goras can build something for this country.
Simar: The most interesting thing in this Paytm office is that you have rooms called Tokyo, San Francisco, etc. What's the story behind?
VSS: We shifted in this office in 2008. And I, being a wanderlust, wanted to travel the whole world. And we weren't really earning that much. So I named our Conference and Meeting Rooms on these cities. Now I proudly announce, “Our next meeting is in Tokyo; or let's meet in Hongkong now. :)”
This also is a feeling that we are world-class. We are benchmarking ourselves to the world.
Simar: You have the need for speed. You love adventure sports. So what's your take on innovation? Build a better product or a faster product?
VSS: Build a better product by iterating fast. I don't believe in these independent studies and surveys. I feel let the consumer use it.
Simar: Do you make decisions based on data or intuition?
VSS (Giggling): Neither data nor intuition. I believe in opinionated decisions. “We will go with this because I like this”.
Simar: So how are you different from other tech giants, like Flipkart or Amazon?
VSS: It is Technology vs. a retail play. Retail play is when it is you along with your relatives or affiliates who engage in selling. And technology is where only merchants sell. You don't have a role in it. Everybody is actually a retailer. They might call themselves a market but they are fake.
Simar: You are an avid reader. You have recommended books about Alibaba and Amazon. Jeff Bezos has a Company where he wants to get into space exploration.
Do you also want to venture out in other fields? Do I see that in the next 10 years, Paytm will be investing in ventures other than Mobile?
VSS: Music and media interest me personally.
There are 2 kinds of Companies in this world- Builders and Buyers. When you can't build, you buy, and claim it to be your production. We prefer to stay in the Club of Builders; the ones who move the human race forward. We wish to build incredible products for the consumer. We might buy the components of it, but it will be our product.
Simar: What is your criteria of Investment? Tell us a bit about One97 Mobility Fund.
VSS: I believe in investing in the person, not only in the idea. Invest in the driver, not the bus or the destination.
We take 20-40% of your equity, or we give you checks catering to small amounts, may be 50 lakhs or 1 crore. Our ticket size varies between 50 lakhs to $10 million.
Our intention is to take a smaller share of equity so that we can help you expand your horizons in business. We wish to build an ecosystem for Companies around our Business model for mutual benefits.
Simar: A word of wisdom for the entrepreneurs who have it in them but are afraid to take the leap?
VSS: They are not Entrepreneurs yet. They lack that self-conviction to take the jump.
Entrepreneurship is about being sincere to the purpose. Nothing can stop you when you are really sincere to your goal.