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Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra are originally from Mumbai but grew up in Dubai. But, a good chunk of their family was based in Mumbai, owing to which they kept traveling back and forth. As kids, they spent three to four months a year in Mumbai. Having the same background as kids shutting between Mumbai and Dubai, the two became pretty close friends when they were about eight or nine years old. Since then, both of them have been doing everything together. From playing table tennis to going camping, to working on projects together. Talking about their tryst with entrepreneurship, Palicha mentions, “We got into the world of startups when I was about 13 years old. I used to build desktops with my dad, and sell them to people.” When they got older, they started experimenting more on the software side, and Kaivalya taught himself how to code. While working on small projects, like websites, Chrome extensions, and mobile apps, at the age of 16, they started the first project, which was a ride-sharing platform for school commutes. And a year after that, they ended up selling it to a much larger company for a couple of crores of equity. The young duo was pretty much blown away by that as this hobby was building out well and paved the way to a very rewarding career path. And they realized that the best place in the world to learn about products, technology, and startups would be Silicon Valley in California. And so after selling the company, they decided to apply to study computer science at Stanford University. Coincidentally, both of them got admissions but when the pandemic hit, they found themselves back in Mumbai, which is when they started experimenting with the grocery space, and it led to another exciting product, which is today known as Zepto.
In less than two years in operation, the concept went from zero to 1000s of crores of sales annually serving millions of customers in India. On how the Stanford drop-outs built the 10-minute grocery delivery business, Vohra mentions, “The larger problem statement to solve at the scene was that at the beginning of 2020, during the first lockdown, the local Kirana store guys went back to their villages and online companies like BigBasket were taking six, seven days. In that context, it is very difficult to get basic essentials. My granddad couldn’t get his dal and rice delivered on time. And so it started with us noticing that there was something about India’s grocery infrastructure that just seemed to be pretty broken.” That curiosity led to an experiment that the duo ran in to get basic essentials delivered, which they further scaled and shaped as a 10-minute delivery platform.
The duo found the sweet spot where someone can order multiple times and faster iterations led to more orders and quicker deliveries, which helped in more orders delivered in the same bracket of time. From grocery delivery to quick delivery the pivot helped the brand to make a clear headway among competition from online delivery companies.
With capital from their previous startup and investor money coming in, they could bring on board, experts from the supply chain industry to help them build it further. This way, they could scale much faster with the help of senior professionals joining in areas of buying and merchandising, marketing, finance, etc. On the kind of people they hired, Palicha says, “We hired people who had that fire in the belly and then had seen startups in the early stages and were excited about building startups. So usually, the kind of people that we index were people who had experience at scale in larger companies. So they knew how to manage huge volumes, but they also had been part of the startup journey, and are excited about that.”
These senior folks were brought in as partners, having ownership in the company from an equity perspective, and also in terms of philosophical ownership, wherein they further build it up.
Year of inception: 2021
No. of employees: 1200+
External funding: Valuation of $900M