The founders of Indian startup Zepto share tips on how to start a company

When Kaivalya Vohra wanted to leave Stanford University to run his startup, it took “two long conversations” to convince his parents.

He said getting them on board was not too difficult.

“They saw how this business was growing in front of them, and they saw how quickly we could achieve what we had.”

It only took nine months for Vohra and co-founder, Aadit Palicha, to bring Zepto — an app from India that promises to deliver groceries in less than 10 minutes — worth $900 million.

Get into the mindset that you’re wrong and know where you have to be right…that journey has been humbling.

Edith Balecha

Co-founder and CEO, Zepto

How did two teens build one of India’s fastest growing e-commerce apps? CNBC Make It finds out.

1. Talk to customers

Vohra said finding a suitable product for the market is important. His advice on how to do it?

“Talk to the customers. Just use that as a holy grail [to] Make sure you are on the right track to finding a suitable product for the market.”

He added, “One of the hardest things is getting to that point where you have a product that people love… It’s much easier and much faster if you’re constantly talking to customers, getting feedback from them and learning from them.”

In Zepto’s early days, 19-year-olds handled customer support themselves and delivered groceries to consumers just so they could have a quick chat with them.

Zepto isn’t the only fast-trading startup in India, and competition is heating up both locally and globally. The country’s online grocery market is set to be worth about $24 billion by 2025, according to Redseer.


“We still do that to this day… We have millions of customers, with hundreds of thousands of orders every day. [We still] Spend a great deal of time just talking to clients and learning from them,” Paliccha said.

“Getting into the mindset that you’re wrong and knowing where to get right…that was a humbling journey.”

2. Falling in love with your product

Palicha and Vohra weren’t always taken seriously – not only because of their age, but also because of the “crazy” of the idea of ​​a delivery under 10 minutes.

“When we started this 12 months ago, every conversation we had was saying, ‘You’ve totally lost your mind, this is never going to work,’” Balicha said.

But their conviction in their product kept them going.

“Kaivalya and I fell in love with the product so much that we saw ourselves as custodians of what could end up becoming a huge internet phenomenon for consumers in India,” said Palicha.

“If we don’t build it, someone else will. When you work with that mindset, everything becomes a little less intimidating.”

Falling in love with the product and building that conviction really pushes you to…see this product through.

Edith Balecha

Co-founder and CEO, Zepto

This is why the duo can have “difficult conversations” with investors, senior executives and even a government official, Balicha added.

Despite being just one of many companies joining the spot trade wave, it has caught the attention of investors. Its latest cash injection of $200 million in May brought Zepto one step closer to unicorn status.

“Falling in love with the product and building that conviction really drives you to…see this product through,” said Palicha.

3. Be responsible

Palicha and Vohra have been friends since they were seven years old – a huge plus as they transformed from childhood friends into business partners.

“Kaivalya and I really complement each other’s skill set,” said Palicha. “He’s always been better technically than me, so he’s been a great technical director.”

“12 months ago, when we were building the first version of the product, I don’t think we were able to launch it in real life [without him]. ”

Kaivalya Vohra (left) and Aadit Palicha are the teens behind Zepto, a startup from India that promises to deliver groceries in under 10 minutes.


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