There were pros and cons to demonetisation and to being an entrepreneur, says Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.
Demonetisation did indeed create pain for people with black money and those without access to digital methods of payment, but Paytm saw an opportunity and took it, the payment company’s founder and CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma said Tuesday.
“You saw what Paytm did and what the other competitors were doing. We saw a chance and took it,” Shekhar said. He was in conversation with ThePrint’s Digital Director Diksha Madhok at Democracy Wall.
However, Sharma admitted there were both advantages and disadvantages to an economic policy like demonetisation.
“It created pain for people, that is no secret. There are both pros and cons, but overall the benefits outweighed the cons,” he said, adding, “demonetisation is like a monkey on my back.”
Democracy Wall is a monthly free speech campus initiative organised by ThePrint in collaboration with Facebook. The first event at Amity University campus in Noida featured Sharma, TMC MP Derek O’Brien, actor Richa Chadha, and comedy group Aisi Taisi Democracy.
Asked about entrepreneurs mostly being men from IITs and IIMs, Sharma said, “Women are not taking a big interest in the startup world. However, I personally believe this country is not dividing men and women in funding.”
Sharma said that being an entrepreneur leads to many ups and downs.
“Families with proposals for marriage had come to see me, but never returned a call because of what I was earning. I couldn’t even pay rent. This was 2005. Life goes through super highs and lows in a few years as an entrepreneur,” Sharma said.
Speaking about his modest background, Sharma said that he went from being sitting in the front bench in school, to sitting behind in class when he was in college.
“In my school days I would be the frontbencher, in college I realised I can’t be the first bencher, because the teacher was asking in English and I couldn’t answer, having come from a small village,” he said.
Reflecting on studying in elite colleges, Sharma said, “It was tough to be in a glorified, glittering campus in Delhi, when the best clothes you have ever worn was your school clothes.”
When asked what he would be if he wasn’t an entrepreneur, Sharma, whose Facebook profile lists him as ‘Resident DJ’ at his company, said he’d rather be a rockstar.
“I wish I was Bono. I saw him on stage when he was 56, where he did a four-and-a-half hour performance. At that age,” he said.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma is an investor in ThePrint