W Power 2024

Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra: Perfecting the quick commerce playbook

The co-founders of Zepto just wanted to solve a big problem during the pandemic. The solution has become one of the fastest-growing internet companies in India

Samidha Jain
Published: Feb 23, 2024 01:02:38 PM IST
Updated: Feb 23, 2024 01:35:23 PM IST

Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra: Perfecting the quick commerce playbook Photo: Mexy Xavier; Directed By: Kapil Kashyap Kaivalya And Aadit - Outfit: Shahin Mannan; Kaivalya - Jewellery: Inox; Styled By: Zainab Shakir; Assistant Stylists: Mannat Bhalla, Samridh Gupta

Aadit Palicha | 21
Kaivalya Vohra | 21
Co-founders, Zepto

Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra were fascinated by Silicon Valley in their teens and liked building things from scratch. During their undergraduate studies at Stanford, they worked on small scale startups, but “unfortunately or fortunately”, as Palicha puts it, the pandemic hit and they found themselves back in Mumbai. “There wasn’t much to do and we didn’t think of online education as a suitable alternative to actually being in Stanford. So we decided to take a year off,” says Palicha.

Then-19-year-olds, Palicha and Vohra did not have any intention of starting a business. But the willingness to solve a big problem during the pandemic brought them to where they are today with Zepto, a quick commerce platform. “Most offline grocers were shut in the first half of the lockdown. The online guys were taking seven or eight days to deliver. We decided to just solve a problem for our elderly neighbours,” Palicha adds.

What started as a WhatsApp group in an apartment in Mumbai is now one of the fastest growing internet companies in India with 150 stores, and a target of an annualised sales of $200 million by April 2025. The recently minted unicorn is valued at $1.4 billion and raised $235.4 million in 2023, backed by StepStone, Nexus, and Oliver Jung, among others. In FY23, Zepto had an operating revenue of ₹2,024 crore, with a loss of ₹1,272 crore. For FY24, the company claims to be striking a revenue rate of ₹4,500 crore, and turning profitable.

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Initially, when the app was called ‘Kiranakart’, it didn’t make quick 10-minute deliveries. As Palicha recalls, many of the deliveries in the initial days were made by the duo. “The customers told us that the services are nice, but they are only using it because of the pandemic. It’s not something they will use after the lockdown,” says Palicha, who then along with Vohra decided on making quick and quality delivery the foundation of the company.

Today, Zepto is present across seven Tier I cities, has launched 100 micro-warehouses and has 315 dark stores. Anil Joshi, managing partner at Unicorn India, says, “Considering the size of India, I believe that the company has ample room to expand fast, become profitable and then head for an IPO,” says Joshi.

Aadit Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra: Perfecting the quick commerce playbook

According to Vohra, Zepto wants to continue going deeper. “Right now, our focus is just to densify our existing network. Over time, we will start scanning it into other cities as well,” he adds.

(This story appears in the 23 February, 2024 issue of Forbes India. To visit our Archives, click here.)

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