Image: Madhu Kapparath; Light painting: Kapil Kashyap
Vikram Singh | 29
Head (raw material business), OfBusiness
The diktat was clear. “All you have is four years,” the father sternly conveyed the message to his eldest son, who pleaded to get a chance to study engineering. Born in Malra, a village in the Mahendragarh district of Haryana—famous for producing wrestling champions—Vikram Singh was fighting hard to get a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shape his destiny.
Till 18, all he had done was study at a government school—which introduced English in Class 6—from morning till 2 pm, and then help his father in the fields till late evening. “If you don’t become better than me, then come back and join me in the fields,” was the warning.
Singh was used to ample warnings in life. He fondly recounts one of them. “If you don’t become a wrestler, you won’t be able to do anything in life,” cautioned his friends and well-wishers. In fact, once Singh got tempted to take up wrestling as a profession. It had nothing to do with the DNA of his village or societal pressure. It was more to do with the prize money.
Every year, his village hosted a wrestling competition with a cash reward of ₹51,000 . “It was a big amount for a villager,” recalls Singh, who decided to heed the advice of his teacher who spotted that he was good at maths.. “Study hard and you have a bright future,” was how his teacher encouraged him.
He graduated from the National Power Training Institute in Haryana, and did an MBA from FMS Delhi. While in college, he started a firm that made machinery for sugarcane planting and weeding. The money for the venture came from over two dozen business plans competitions that he and his team won. They eventually parted ways, and Singh joined OfBusiness in April 2017.
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The turning point came after three years. The head of the raw material business unit—one of three business verticals in OfBusiness, which came third in terms of contribution to the venture—wanted to move to spend time in financing business. Asish Mohapatra, co-founder and CEO of OfBusiness, looked for a replacement, but couldn’t find one. Singh threw his hat in the ring. “I was betting on a rookie,” recalls Mohapatra. “And I threw him at the deep end of the sea.” The gambit paid off.View the full list of Forbes India 30 Under 30 2023 here
“Singh is 29, leads a team of over 400, and heads a profit-and-loss of close to ₹15,000 crore,” says Mohapatra, adding that Singh turned around the business unit. “He hired a team of freshers and his unit now is almost 70 percent of OfBusiness.”
Niren Shah, managing director and head of Norwest India, finds his performance impressive. “Singh has displayed leadership skills at a very young age, and played a critical role in scaling OfBusiness,” he says.
Singh shares what worked for him. “I kept on fighting the odds and worked hard,” he says. Though plucky, luck too played a part. “I was the right man, at the right place and picked by the right person,” he says.