My personal goal is to create a 100 billion dollar company that India has

A man of few words but, surprisingly, one who writes good poetry and even his own company’s ads, Sharma is a disruptor and innovator like none other. On the sidelines

e4m by Srabana Lahiri
Published: Dec 21, 2016 8:01 AM  | 9 min read
My personal goal is to create a 100 billion dollar company that India has never produced so far: Vijay Shekhar Sharma

Extremely unassuming, down-to-earth, knowledgeable, inspiring yet humble - these are some of the many traits that single out Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Founder & CEO, Paytm, and IMPACT Person of the Year 2016 (IPOY2016),   from the rest. In a short span of time, he has managed to disrupt not one but three industries – media, telecom and financial technology. A man of few words but, surprisingly, one who writes good poetry and even his own company’s ads, Sharma is a disruptor and innovator like none other. On the sidelines of IPOY2016, we caught up with Sharma to know more about his successful journey, how demonetisation changed the game for his pet project Paytm and more...

You say that the rules you go by are ‘not being greedy, not being entitled and having no fear’. Now that you have attained great success and your company is so well known, what keeps you awake at night?

When you are successful, there are many people around that are ready to pull you down. But those are things that you can’t control. Hence, I don’t fear the known... I actually fear the unknown, i.e, some things that might happen in future about which I have no inkling. I was recently in Hong Kong where I met Mark Schwartz, Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia Pacific. Schwartz is a board member at Paytm and he asked me, “You are the disruptor today, but who will be the disruptor for you?” I repeat what I said to him: “People we know will never be able to disrupt us. The disruptors will be those whom everybody underestimates and they will kill us royally and fabulously.”

What are you doing to nurture disruptors within your organization?

Every company that is in business should know that they will be outpaced at some time or the other. Earlier, this would happen after, say, 10 years, and then it was five years... now it happens in as little as three years’ time. So, the first thing is that we do not take our success, or whatsoever you may label it as, seriously, because there is only one way to go from the top which is down. We are a paranoid set. We are at an early stage of disruption and we are being overstated for what we have done and understated for what is in store for us.

What according to you are the most important qualities of a leader?

I believe that leadership is an outcome of experiences. Real life experiences make you a real leader. Classroom experiences make you ready for real life experiences. Ultimately, leadership is an outcome of real life experiences.

You started your first company when you were still in college, sold it for one million dollars and then started your next company. You didn’t know English but learnt the language through music and now you write poetry too. What was intrinsic to your journey?

I ended up getting a British accent because I was always listening to John Lennon to learn English! Looking back, I was going through a time when the money we needed to spend in our business was not available and we had exhausted every potential source of money. I had pledged all my shares and I got Rs 60 crore from HDFC Bank. In a business like ours, that does not even last for a month. (Incidentally, a media report stated that we spent Rs 2,496 crore in 365 days last year.) During one of our board meetings, the acting CFO of our company said, ‘Vijay, I understand you are spending money, but you should know this if you keep spending, you will go home soon’. For the next board meeting, I had a poster in my office which said ‘Go big or go home’ and I told the CFO, ‘Just so you don’t repeat it, I just want to let you know either we will go big or go home.’

I have lived in poverty, on a budget of Rs 50 a month. When I was in Class X, I wrote these lines: ‘Main gareebi hoon. Main tumhe pyaar karti hoon. Mein tumhe chhod nahi sakti kyunki tum mujhe ussey zyaada pyaar karte ho

What has Paytm done that other players haven’t? They had the same opportunity in the wake of demonetization. Even in the last 35 days, what have you done differently than other players?

I think the understanding among people is that typically a payment in the mobile world is meant for online customers, online people, and online merchants. But here the payment instrument, Paytm, itself is an online company. Last November, we took a different bet to see whether the payment company could go offline. Offline, there is a POS cost. So we thought of an innovation – the Paytm QR code. Technically, it will be the biggest discovery and hasn’t happened anywhere else in the world. Typically, investment on technology is by the shopkeeper - he has a computer, POS machine and everything, and consumers carry currency or a card which are not technology devices. Now the shopkeeper carries a QR code sticker and the consumer carries a computer within his mobile. That flip has changed the business model. Now, a tea vendor or a vegetable seller can start accepting payments. Everybody was going North, we started saying, let’s go South. And then we experimented. These are of course risky bets.

What is Vijay Shekhar Sharma doing to give back?

The amount of money that I ever make will be the amount of money this country will get back, whether as a part of the business that I will set up in the country or the work that I will do. I am lucky that I was not born in a rich family, so I do not know how to spend much money, and that is why I am so low on the extravagance footprint and ready to share my money and resources. Do you know this that I invest in companies because they are friends and not because they have a business plan that appeals to me? So, I have made investments in 37 companies. I don’t even know what they do. I fundamentally believe that you invest in a person, not in a business plan. So for example, it is Vishal Gondal who gets money, not GOQii.

So what are some areas that you want to invest in, going forward?

Sustainability is the biggest one. I am building a network of start-ups and I have committed Rs10 crore to that. I believe that I will collect a lot more capital for the cities that we live in, they have got to become far better. Sustainability is the biggest issue looming before us.

Paytm is a disruptor, it’s an innovator. It has localized solutions. But do you agree that we are a culture that only celebrates success, not failure... and perhaps it is time to change that culture?

Every failure will be celebrated once there is a success outcome of it. Only then will people understand that success was the outcome of some failure. Success in this country is to get a job in TCS, Oracle or IBM. Success is not in building a flawless company, to be a part of this amazing start-up culture. Once we start celebrating the success of young companies and people who are trying to do new things, we will come to know that they have not been successful at one go... they might have actually failed 10 times and then emerged successful.

Talking of the extraordinary developments of November 8, how did you manage to put out front-page advertisements across major publications in a matter of hours after demonetization was announced? You had a very short window of time as the move was announced late evening on November 8, and in a few hours, newspapers had to go to Press...

First of all, I want to acknowledge the contribution of our creative agency, McCann WorldGroup. The creative team is absolutely fabulous because they came up with the ‘Paytm Karo’ tagline earlier. Print has a strict turnaround time and creatives have to be in, say by 5pm or 7pm, if you want it to appear in the next day’s newspaper. Looking back on the evening of November 8, the demonetization announcement happened at 8pm and by 9pm, my team was working on the ad and we were talking to newspapers that we wanted to take the front page of the November 9 edition. We wanted to be on the front page of every newspaper in the country because while this country was thinking that finding black money was the primary intent, we saw it as the biggest push a digital economy would ever get in this country. We wanted to applaud Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saying that it was a historic decision, because it would effectively be the day when you don’t need to go to an ATM, but go to Paytm. We immediately created the campaign line ‘ATM nahi, Paytm karo!’ A few major newspapers – The Hindustan Times, The Telegraph, The Hindu and Mint – actually waited for our ad to be created and went to Press much after their usual release time, post 12.30am. Thanks to our media agency Maxus, which spoke to the papers, we finally got it done, and had the ad on the front pages of many dailies the following day. We wrote the best copyline in this rush. I wrote the Hindi headline Tum badlogey, ek badlega. Hum badlengey, desh badlega, and my team then wrote the corresponding English one -When one changes, it is progress. When all of us change, it is a revolution.’

What is your goal in the long and short term? What next?

My personal goal is that this country hasn’t produced any 100 billion dollar company... can we take a shot at that? Can we take that shot so that when we land in international cities like Tokyo, London & Hong Kong, we see that there is an Indian brand present there. And I am able to say that it is our company.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

Mark Zuckerberg announces new WhatsApp app for Windows

The app will enable group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 3:25 PM   |   1 min read


Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced a new WhatsApp app for Windows, which will enable group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people - all from your desktop.

Making the announceemnt on Facebook, he wrote, “Launching a new WhatsApp desktop app for Windows. Now you can make E2E encrypted video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people.”

“The new Windows desktop app loads faster and is built with an interface familiar to WhatsApp and Windows users. You can host group video calls with up to 8 people and audio calls with up to 32 people. We’ll continue to increase these limits over time so you can always stay connected with friends, family and work colleagues.

Since introducing new multi-device capabilities, we’ve listened to feedback and made improvements including faster device linking and better syncing across devices, as well as new features such as link previews and stickers.

As we continue to increase the number of devices which support WhatsApp, we’ve just introduced a new WhatsApp beta experience for Android tablets. We’re also launching a new, faster app for Mac desktops that is currently in the early stages of beta,” he wrote further.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

MarTech can brilliantly answer the ROI question: Hareesh Tibrewala

The Joint CEO of Mirum India spoke to e4m Editor Naziya Alvi Rahman on a host of questions with respect to the India MarTech Report 2023 that will be unveiled at the e4m Pitch CMO Summit today

By Naziya Alvi Rahman | Mar 23, 2023 2:41 PM   |   1 min read


Hareesh Tibrewala spoke to e4m on a host of issues related to MarTech while delving deep into the India MarTech Report. He started by addressing the roadblocks in the implementation of MarTech in the country.

He also explained the point about MarTech explorers in terms of the sectors, which is invested in this marketing technique.

Tibrewala further spoke about how martech was critical in the role of a marketer and how it could be extremely significant for calculating ROI.

The conversation also veered toward the importance of MarTech in the cookie-less world and the advent of Web3.

Watch the entire conversation here.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

Google opens up access to Bard

In a blogpost, Google said that Bard could provide tips or explain several posts

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 1:07 PM   |   1 min read


Google has said that it is opening up access to Bard, the ChatGPT competitor, as per media reports.

The tech major will be expanding the access to Bard in more countries and languages.

In a blogpost, Google said that Bard could provide tips or explain several posts.

Google unveiled Bard in February. Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the soft launch of the AI to "trusted testers". 

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

MarTech no longer only about marketing, it needs to drive sales: Mirum India report

The survey for the report shows 88% of respondents expect to increase spending on MarTech over the next 3 years

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 12:43 PM   |   2 min read


Mirum India, a Wunderman Thompson company, has put together a report on the emerging MarTech landscape in India.

The report captures how MarTech solutions are being utilized by brands to effectively communicate their brand messages to the right set of audiences at the right time.

The report highlights that while the global spend on MarTech solutions is around 25% of the total marketing budget, in India, majority organizations spend less than 15%, indicating significant potential for growth. With MarTech spending set to increase across company sizes and sectors, 88% of respondents expect to increase their MarTech spending over the next three years. The report also emphasizes the need for brands and organizations to work with growth partners as preferred by MarTech HEROES, focusing on ROI, and delivering value to the brands.

The report will be unveiled on March 24, 2023, at the e4m Pitch CMO Summit in Mumbai. The summit will see India's most reputed brands and top management coming under one roof to interact and share insights on their game-changing success stories.

Speaking on the report, Hareesh Tibrewala, Joint CEO – Mirum India, said, "The estimated size of the MarTech industry in India is expected to be between $35bn and $50bn by 2026, presenting a sizeable opportunity for businesses. Our latest report highlights how brands are using MarTech solutions to effectively deliver the right brand message to the right customer at the right time, creating fabulous customer experiences and increasing brand loyalty. It is interesting to note that marketers globally spend 25% of their budgets on MarTech solutions, and our report shows the emergence of MarTech EXPLORERS, who are keen to leverage the power of MarTech. This presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to grow and thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape."

CVL Srinivas, Country Manager – WPP India said, "To succeed in the rapidly evolving tech and data driven world, organizations need good marketing automation tools and diverse skill sets. The report highlights the need for growth partners, preferred by MarTech HEROES, to ensure strong ROI for clients. It brings clarity to the ecosystem and presents an exciting opportunity for businesses to create fantastic customer experiences and increase brand loyalty. At WPP, we've invested heavily in building our tech and data practices, creating a comprehensive ecosystem where value is delivered at every touchpoint."

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

Why contextual advertising is making a comeback

As part of e4m TechTalk, Dimpy Yadav, General Manager - Xaxis India, writes contextual advertising is re-emerging for delivering relevant & targeted messages to India’s audiences

By Dimpy Yadav | Mar 23, 2023 9:18 AM   |   4 min read


For years, contextual advertising has taken a back seat in favour of hyper-personalised behavioural targeting. But with tightening regulations and deepening concerns around data privacy, contextual advertising is reasserting its place within India’s marketing ecosystem. And it’s about time too.

Contextual advertisement placement is a proven marketing strategy that dates back to the very origins of the modern industry. In today’s digitised world, this tactic involves showing ads that are directly relevant to the content that a user is viewing or even to the user themselves. They can align contextually with anything from a web page to a geographic location or even the weather.

So why is contextual advertising making a comeback in India in 2023? And how can the nation’s marketers and agencies rise to this new digital challenge?

The right context

It’s been seven years since the Indian government launched its digital India campaign and the nation’s digital economy has grown at a phenomenal rate – 2.4 times faster than the overall economy between 2014 and 2019.

Meanwhile, smartphones have become more affordable, internet infrastructure has expanded, and data has become significantly cheaper. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the adoption of digital interactions has accelerated even further, with food deliveries, telemedicine, and online gaming surging in first-time usage.

For marketers, digital and mobile media have become more accessible and cost-effective mediums. This year, advertising spending on mobile is expected to comprise 78 per cent of India’s total digital media expenditure. According to eMarketer, mobile ad spending in India grew YoY by 35.9 per cent in 2021 and is forecasted to grow by 28.4 per cent in 2022

India’s digital explosion comes amid a tectonic shift away from the third-party data collection that marketers have relied on for years. Consumers have become more cautious about the data they share online while global regulations around data collection like the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have constrained brands’ unfettered access to personal data. In this climate, contextual advertising, which leverages the content of the environment instead of the personal data of its visitors, serves as a privacy-friendly alternative.

A loyal audience

One of the key criticisms of social media over recent years is the potential to miss or misuse key contextual information. Although social media gives brands access to massive audiences, campaigns can easily fall flat if they aren’t executed in just the right context. Even the best creative cannot drive engagement when it appears in an irrelevant or inappropriate environment.

But that dependence on its environment is also one of contextual advertising’s greatest strengths. When utilized in partnership with established publications, it capitalizes on the built-in trust and loyalty that those outlets already enjoy with their audiences. When a receptive audience is combined with the modern capabilities of global scale, digital precision, and algorithmic efficiency, the results can be powerful.

Trust in context

Improvements in targeting capabilities and data analysis have also made it possible for advertisers to target audiences through keywords and topics as well as demographics and interests. Marketers can meanwhile be selective about the types of content they want their ads to run alongside, reserving their investments for audiences that are more likely to take an interest in their products and, therefore, more likely to engage with them. For these reasons, they can feel confident that their content will be well received and their investments will be profitable.

Still, marketing based on context may be a difficult transition for industry leaders who are more familiar and comfortable with behavioural targeting. But it’s hard to argue that the shift towards a contextual mindset will be anything short of necessary and more than likely fruitful. Recent research by Integral Ad Science (IAS) revealed that Indian consumers are more likely to positively receive and remember contextually relevant ads.

Last but not least, contextual advertising will aid marketers in the desired outcome from their campaign. According to a study conducted by IAS and personal computer manufacturer HP, purchase intent was 14 per cent higher among consumers who viewed the in-context ad. In addition, consumers reported a 5 per cent increase in positivity toward the HP brand after seeing an in-context ad

As third-party personal data is becoming less accessible, contextual advertising is growing more sophisticated, giving marketers the power to meet receptive audiences with relevant content. That’s a fundamentally sound path to success that benefits both brands and consumers alike.

Most significantly of all, it has the potential to transform digital media investments into real-world business outcomes. Although the value of premium publishing has always existed, marketers are now able to prove its success with clarity and maximum return on expenditure.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

Brands can be the real winners as gaming firms hit the jackpot with innovative games

Indian gaming firms received $1.4 billion investment over the past five years. This opens up huge opportunities for advertisers

By Kanchan Srivastava | Mar 23, 2023 8:55 AM   |   4 min read


The Indian gaming ecosystem, which boasts of more than 1,100 startups and a 40 crore-strong gaming communities, is thriving like never before.  With their unique offerings such as NFT-based games, fantasy sports, real-money games and cash prizes, home-grown firms have gained popularity across the globe. Over 86 Indian firms have received $1.4 billion investment over the past five years, including two unicorns and seven soonicorns, according to a latest report of the research firm Tracxn. 

Globally, gaming firms received $20.4B funds over the past five years. Of this, India’s share is roughly 6.8%. The United States (42.2%) Chinese (18.3%) firms got the lion’s share. 

Fantasy sports platform MPL ($150 million), which is a unicorn, is among top 10 funded companies globally over the last 2 years. Games24x7, another Unicorn from India, also received $75 million. 

Soonicorns like Zupee ($72 M), WinZO ($65 M), Hike (NFT gaming, $261 M), JetSynthesys, Octro, EloElo and Games2win also bagged the jackpot. Even four early stage startups-Bombay Play, One World Nation, Studio Sirah, Awon Gamez-have also managed to win their first rounds of funding over the last year. 

Even as the cryptocurrency sector across the world tanked, Venture capitalists have shown keen interests in Indian Web3 gaming startups that offer play-to-earn (P2E) entertainment and use crypto coins and NFTs for transactions. Companies with blockchain-based offerings pocketed $620 mn in 2022. Gurugram-based Rario, Bengaluru-based and Delhi-based Hike are among them, Tracxn data says. Hike pivoted from instant messaging to social, gaming, and crypto in 2021 only. 

“Indian gaming companies have been building local products with capabilities to cater to mobile-gaming markets across the world. Gaming as a category has shown itself to be driven by a highly monetizable audience base: one that tends to spend a lot of time on content and online engagement, is likely to be a trend-setter, has the propensity to spend and is often the chief purchase influencer in his/her family and friend circle,” opines Piyush Kumar, Founder & CEO, Rooter - Gaming and Esports Content platform. 

He further noted, “Indian gaming startups have been quick to encash this opportunity. Gaming content platforms like ours are building scalable, tech-driven, revenue-generating models that have garnered interest from marquee global investors.”

According to Rohit Agarwal, Founder & Director, Alpha Zegus,

“Since gaming is an industry that is completely digitally led, there is an almost infinite reserve of digital content that can be converted into NFTs. Also, the gaming audience is more tech-driven and understands the concept of NFT quite easily. These two factors give the NFT-based gaming industry a big advantage.”

Karan Taurani, senior VP of Elara Capital, echoes the sentiments.  “Indian gaming companies have quickly realized the shift of casual gamers towards real-money games. Web3 gaming is a far more sustainable ecosystem for both players and gaming companies and hence there are huge growth opportunities. Investors know this fact.”

Big opportunity for brands 

Such overwhelming investment in the Indian gaming startups opens up a huge opportunity for advertisers. Most of the gamers are young and have a significant purchasing power. 

The Indian online gaming industry is estimated to grow to more than Rs 15,000 crore in 2023, representing a CAGR of nearly 22%,  as per the latest 'India Online Gaming Report' of GroupM. 

“Most of the potential of this platform is still unutilised”, an advertising executive said. He added, “Gaming platforms offer tremendous scope such as in-app advertising, brand integration, rewards and advergaming. Brands can also reach their target audience through communities, e-sport tournaments, team associations, NFTs and influencers.”

The in-game advertising market globally is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 7% to reach about US$220 billion by 2027, almost two-fold compared to 2020, according to a report of Research and Markets.


Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube

How Nikhil Gandhi led strategic growth for MX Player

Gandhi, who has stepped down as COO, had three focus areas to drive the platform’s evolution when he took over the role two years back

By exchange4media Staff | Mar 23, 2023 8:24 AM   |   2 min read


Nikhil Gandhi, who stepped down as the Chief Operating Officer of MX Player on Wednesday, has the credit of leading the OTT platform for two years with a specialised business strategy.

Gandhi made a mark with his team leadership, brand management, and strategies for generating revenue through digital content.

When Gandhi joined MX Player from TikTok, he was clear on three key areas for growth. The first was to grow users in India and internationally and expand MX Player’s markets by increasing the watch time on the app. Secondly, he spoke of deploying data in creating strategies for content and the third area was to identify new business areas. Gandhi had spoken about these key focus points in an interview with e4m in May 2022.

With Gandhi at the helm, MX Player emerged as the fastest-growing OTT platform in India. As per’s “State of Mobile Report”, released in January this year, MX Player was India’s most-downloaded OTT app and the third most-downloaded worldwide in 2022.

Industry observers shared that Gandhi had bigger plans. “He has been striving to take the AVOD model to the next level and crack the Bharat market, which largely relies on cost-free entertainment options,” an industry expert said.

He was also instrumental in acquiring the Lionsgate library for international content, industry sources said.

MX Player has over 650 advertisers on its platform, Gandhi had said last December, explaining how his “team goes into smaller markets and gets new advertisers”.

Under his leadership, the platform was able to launch several new initiatives in the last one and a half years. Among them was MX Advantage, the self-serve ad platform targeted at Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). It allows new advertisers to log in and place ads on the platform. MX Player also helps brands design their ads.

Another feature, launched in October 2022, was MX Live. It helped creators monetise content. MX Live works on a D2C model that allows content creators to interact with fans through live sessions. Users can even buy MX coins and MX tokens.

Read more news about (internet advertising India, internet advertising, advertising India, digital advertising India, media advertising India)

For more updates, be socially connected with us on
Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook & Youtube