The founders of the Indian start-up Zepto share tips on setting up a business

When Kaivalya Vohra wanted to drop out of Stanford University to run his startup, it took “a few long talks” to convince his parents.

But getting them on board wasn’t too difficult, he said.

“They’ve seen this business grow before them, they’ve seen how quickly we’ve achieved what we’ve achieved.”

It took Vohra and his co-founder Aadit Palicha just nine months to get Zepto — an app from India that promises to deliver groceries in less than 10 minutes — to $900 million.

Going in with the mindset that you’re wrong and learning where you’re right…this journey has been humbling.

Aadit Palicha

Co-founder and CEO of Zepto

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

1. Talk to customers

It’s important to find a good product market fit, Vohra said. His advice on how to do that?

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

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

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

Zepto isn’t the only quick commerce startup in India and competition is intensifying both domestically and globally. According to Redseer, the country’s online grocery market is expected to be worth around $24 billion by 2025.


“We still do that today… We have millions of customers with hundreds of thousands of orders every day. [We still] spend a lot of time just talking to customers and learning from them,” said Palicha.

“Going in with the mindset that you’re wrong and learning where you’re right…this journey has been humbling.”

2. Fall in love with your product

Palicha and Vohra weren’t always taken seriously – not only because of their age, but also because of the “craziness” of a sub-10 minute delivery.

“When we started doing this 12 months ago, every conversation we had was, ‘You’re crazy, this is never going to work,'” Palicha said.

But her belief in her product kept her going.

“Kaivalya and I fell in love with the product so much that we saw ourselves as simply the custodians of what was likely to become a huge consumer internet phenomenon in India,” Palicha said.

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

Falling in love with the product and building that belief really only pushes you to… go through with that product.

Aadit Palicha

Co-founder and CEO of Zepto

Because of this, the duo are able to have “challenging conversations” with investors, executives and even a government official, Palicha added.

Though it’s just one of many companies joining the instant commerce wave, it’s caught the attention of investors. The latest $200 million cash injection in May brought Zepto one step closer to unicorn status.

“Falling in love with the product and building that belief really pushes you to … go through with that product,” Palicha said.

3. Be accountable

Palicha and Vohra have been friends since they were seven – a big advantage as they went from childhood friends to business partners.

“Kaivalya and I really complement each other’s skills. He’s always been more tech-savvy than me, so he’s blossomed into a great chief technology officer,” said Palicha.

“12 months ago when we were building the first iteration of the product I don’t think we were able to get it off the ground [without him].”

Kaivalya Vohra (left) and Aadit Palicha are the teenagers behind Zepto, an Indian startup that promises to deliver groceries in under 10 minutes.


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