My Incredible 10 years

Rahul Saini
May 10, 2018 · 5 min read

“We are going to make it Big. We will impact millions of lives and trust me, we will make a dent in the universe!” said Vss to me while we were sipping tea in our cafeteria. That was circa 2010, we were working on many products simultaneously. I was working on building a Video aggregation app; In-fact that was the first app we actually shipped.

How many designers in their life time gets to build and envision something from scratch? It doesn’t happen. But with Vijay the story is different, he has a knack for design and believes that a great design can change the product landscape and help build immense trust with consumers.

Kind of sums up the culture, Vss is wearing the “Born Mobile” T-Shirt we designed, that reflected our approach

It was 2008 when I joined One97. At that time, the company was purely into telecom cloud services, and there was no design team. Indeed the concept of product design was new & not many people appreciated what design can do to a product. Vijay being a young design savvy guy said “let’s inculcate design thinking”. And here we stand today known for our simplicity and clear approach.

We have built a name to reckon with for ourselves in product design & UX.

I had known Vijay since 2003–04. He was already a known name in the telecom industry & we tried to workout an new age advertising company together. But I guess we were a little too early for it, but we kept meeting in between these years- I was on my own, had a few startups — some were successful, until I called off and some could not take off — those years gave me some good clarity on how to fail :)

View from the the Design Room.

Jump to 2008, I landed in One97 in May and today I completed my 10 years here, never thought that these 10 years would go by so fast, yet so much we have accomplished both in terms of design and brand and so much is still left to be achieved. Each day we are thrown a new challenge and each day we end up making something new.

When I joined in 2008 — We had a in-house startup on social networking — named Oc2ps or Octopus — somewhat on the lines of WhatsApp and Fb combined, but that was ephemeral. It was then that I stepped out of the pure design tasks to setup the first Data services in One97 leveraging our existing telecom relationships, and soon the market for apps was opening up, it was then the idea for an app that could curate videos for you and download on your Blackberry (yeh that was the first platform we build for).

VideoPind was born, our first app that eventually got launched was for the iPad and subsequently we had app for iPhone & Android.

That was about the time when Paytm also started taking shape — it was initially called Pay Through Mobile. (*see the logo — in the negative space between T&M is a mobile phone)

It was as simple as it could be, with just a simple input field the website lets you recharge your mobile phone. From there started endless cycles of design iterations and over the years we had hundreds of designs and updates.

To read a complete flashback refer to this blog:

There is something else that became a very fundamental part of our culture since then — the Yearly Calendar — Vijay and I has this ‘side project’ as I call it — every year we publish our Calendar — things we both love and things that inspire — from superheroes to people to movies and music. I remember the first version we made had only 500 copies & soon there was so much demand for it that we ended up making a few thousand copies . Fact: that this year we have printed over 10K copies — and we give it all of them for free!

The first Calendar we printed 2009 cover was the famous line from Floyd “ We don’t need no thought control”.
Our 2018 Calendar

Everyone now knows the story of Paytm and how we have scaled up to where we are now. Being part of this incredible journey since the beginning has given me multiple opportunities to build products from scratch and taking them really high. With Paytm on its upwards journey, I have now been entrusted by Vss to build Paytm Mall — our very own Indian Ecommerce app.

I am amongst the few people who got this opportunity to work on something incredible with him and it has been all together a rewarding journey, not only for the work, but also for the time I got to be part of all the fun & the culture. For the kind of trust & relationship I formed over the years.

It’s just the beginning and we have many mountains to climb. Here’s to the relentless pursuit for perfection, this incredible journey, crazy road trips & a lifetime of friendship.


1. Rafting trips were like an yearly breakouts for us | 2. The Incredible Mr…(Don’t Kill me for this photo :))
1. Spanish Posse | 2. To Infinity and Beyond!

Rahul Saini

Written by

Design Sarpanch @Paytm.