Ringing in change

 Vijay Shekhar Sharmahjas made a success of his One97Communications by adding unprecedented value to mobile services. The credit goes to a prodigious streak and  persistence.

Priya Kapoor        Print Edition: March 19, 2009

Vijay Shekhar Sharma, 31
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, 31
 
EducationEngineering, Delhi University
BE, Delhi College of 
Last drawn salary
Rs 1 lakh per month 
Age at starting business
23 years 
Initial investment
Rs 2 lakh 
Source of funds  Savings
Company
One97Communications 
Expected turnover
Rs 126 crore (2008-9) 
No. of employees
600  

A prodigious streak, persistence and willingness to adapt to changing market needs have seen Vijay Shekhar Sharma make a success of his One97Communications by adding unprecedented value to mobile services.

Overcoming obstacles: Age and language may have been barriers to his getting ahead, but he managed to vault over both. Just 14 when he finished school from Aligarh, Vijay Shekhar Sharma had to wait a year before he got special permission from the vice-chancellor of Delhi University to gain admission. He joined the Delhi College of Engineering for an undergraduate course in electronic communication.

Here, however, he found that despite the headstart of beginning young, he was hamstrung because he had studied in Hindi, the medium of instruction in Aligarh. “Throughout my school days I had done well, but in college, I could not understand what was taught in the class,” he says.

But Sharma did not give up. To battle his poor grasp of English, he sought help from his friends and began working on his vocabulary. “I would keep two textbooks of each subject, one in Hindi and the other in English,” he explains. Soon, his grades began to improve.

Meanwhile, he became fascinated by the Internet, which had just made its debut. “Along with one of my college friends, I developed a Website named Indiasite.net, an Indian Web directory,” says Sharma.

As he had no Internet access for downloading content for his Website, he began teaching Web usage to people who had Internet access. In return, he was able to download content that he processed offline. It was early promise of an entrepreneurial streak; by 1998, when he finished his degree, his Internet venture had begun generating revenue through advertisements.

Getting to work: Soon after college, he joined US MNC Riverrun Software Group in Delhi as an Internet expert on an annual salary of Rs 2.1 lakh. “My family was against the whole idea of business. They wanted me to go abroad. Though I hated working for somebody, I ended up joining Riverrun Software,” says Sharma.

However, after a six-month stint, he quit. Along with four friends from college, he set up a Web solutions and services company named XS Corps. In 1999, they partnered with the Living Media India Pvt. Ltd. to establish a Website called Indiadecides.com. It was later sold, along with Indiasite.net, to Living Media India Ltd. for cash and as a deal for more business during election coverage.

Meanwhile, XS Corps received an offer from Intersolutions India Pvt. Ltd. for cash and equity valued at a few crore rupees. Sharma was offered a monthly package of Rs 1 lakh to be the technology manager and he accepted it.

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