Shyam Kumar’s story is the quintessential rags to riches story. From a 10×10 room in a slum in Mumbai suburbs to a 1 BHK rented flat in Mumbai. From earning a salary of rupees 8000 per month to 5 million, Kumar couldn’t have ever imaged that his loyalty towards his employer of seven years would earn him such fortunes.

Kumar is a 42-yr-old peon working in Mumbai-based mobile wallet startup Citrus Pay since its inception in the year 2010. Last year, the startup struck gold when it was sold to PayU, the payments subsidiary of South Africa’s Naspers, making millionaires out of many of its employees. Kumar was one of these 15 employees.

A school-dropout, Kumar couldn’t even land a steady job before he joined Citrus Pay. His driver brother’s banker boss who was a close friend of Citrus Pay founder Jitendra Gupta helped Kumar in landing the job as a peon. Back then, Gupta was just into the initial stages of setting up the startup and Kumar was one of the first employee to be signed up for the company’s employee stock ownership plan [ESOP]. Even though Kumar didn’t fully understand what this meant, but he did grasp that this might be beneficial for him in the future.

For the uninitiated, an ESOP is a qualified defined-contribution employee benefit (ERISA) plan designed to invest primarily in the stock of the sponsoring employer. According to investopedia, ESOPs are “qualified” in the sense that the ESOP’s sponsoring company, the selling shareholder and participants receive various tax benefits. ESOPs are often used as a corporate finance strategy and as means to align employees’ interest with those of the company’s shareholders.

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When Citruspay got acquired last year, its CEO personally called Kumar and shared the news of him getting 5 million for his stake in the company. At that time, neither Kumar nor his wife could believe the news. But when Rs 2.6 million of the 5 million appeared in Kumar’s bank account on Nov. 30, that is when it finally sink in.

Currently, Kumar is planning to buy a new house in outskirts of Mumbai. He also plans to take his family for a much-deserved vacation time very soon, preferably to Goa.

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