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Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra is originally from Mumbai but grew up in Dubai. But a good part of their family was based in Mumbai due to which they kept traveling back and forth. As children, they spent three to four months a year in Mumbai. Coming from the same background as children shuttling between Mumbai and Dubai, the two became pretty close friends when they were around eight or nine years old. Since then they have both done everything together. From playing table tennis to going camping to working on projects together. Talking about their attempts at entrepreneurship, Palicha mentions, “We entered the world of startups when I was about 13 years old. I used to build desktops with my father and sell them to people.” As they got older, they started experimenting more on the software side and Kaivalya taught himself to code. While working on small projects such as websites, Chrome extensions and mobile apps, at the age of 16 they started the first project which was a ride-hailing platform for school commuters. And a year after that, they ended up selling it to a much bigger company for a few crores of equity. The young duo was quite impressed with it as this hobby developed well and paved the way for a very rewarding career. 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, they were both hospitalized, but when the pandemic hit, they found themselves back in Mumbai where they began experimenting with the grocery space, leading to another exciting product known today as Zepto.
In less than two years of operation, the concept went from zero to thousands of millions of sales annually serving millions of customers in India. On how the Stanford dropouts built the 10-minute grocery delivery business, Vohra mentions, “The bigger problem formulation to solve on the ground was that in early 2020, during the first shutdown, the local Kirana shopkeepers went back to their villages and online companies like BigBasket took six, seven days. In that context, it’s very difficult to get the basics. My grandfather couldn’t get his dal and rice delivered on time. So it started with us noticing that there was something about India’s grocery infrastructure that just seemed pretty broken.” That curiosity led to an experiment the duo ran into to deliver basic essentials, 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 faster deliveries, helping more orders delivered in the same amount of time. From grocery delivery to express delivery, the hub helped the brand make a clear headway among the competition from online delivery companies.
With capital from their previous startup and investor money coming in, they were able to bring in 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 areas like purchasing and merchandising, marketing, finance, etc. About the kind of people they hired, Palicha says, “We hired people who had that fire in them stomach and then they had seen startups in the early stages and were excited about building startups. So usually the kind of people we index were people who had experience at scale in larger companies. So they knew how to manage large volumes, but they had also been part of the start-up journey, and are excited about it.”
These senior people were brought in as partners who had ownership in the company from an equity perspective, and also in terms of philosophical ownership where they build it further.
Start year: 2021
Number of employees: 1200+
External funding: Valuation of $900 million