Zepto’s teenage founders become youngest Indians worth more than Rs1000 crore

The Stanford dropouts Kaivalya Vohra and Aadit Palicha launched a grocery delivery app to join the likes of Mark Zuckerberg.

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, September 22, 2022, 05:25 PM IST
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Zepto Founders (left-right) Kaivalya Vohra, Aadit Palicha left computer science degrees they were pursuing at Stanford University to build Zepto | Zepto

When Mark Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to scale up his social media platform that he founded at the age of 19, he scripted a millennial success story akin to that of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Along with a movie, Zuckerberg’s success story inspired millions of aspirational young entrepreneurs to cash in on their innovative ideas, even though only 10 per cent startups are able to make it. This movement has given India its youngest self-made rich individuals, 19-year-old Kaivalya Vohra and Aadit Palicha, who had launched grocery delivery app Zepto only a year ago in 2021.

The two are among the youngest people to make it to the Hurun Rich List this year, with Palicha’s net worth hitting Rs 1,200 crore while Vohra gathered a wealth of Rs 1,000 crore. Founded amidst the post-pandemic e-commerce boom, their 10 minute grocery delivery platform clocked a phenomenal growth of 946 per cent within four months. While Vohra is at the 1,036th position on the list of the world’s wealthiest, Palicha has landed the 945th rank.

Trial, error and a meteoric rise

Like Zuckerberg, Jobs and Bill Gates among other entrepreneurs who changed the world, the Zepto founders are also dropouts from a prestigious university. After quitting Stanford, the duo faced the same struggles as many Indians their age during the covid-induced lockdown, and came up with KiranaKart. But their first shot at creating an e-grocery failed to hit the mark, but that didn’t dampen their spirits. The teenagers improvised and launched Zepto, backed by a network of kirana store owners, to deliver essentials in less than 45 minutes.

After a $730,000 pre-seed fund, there was no looking back as the delivery app zoomed forward in the rapidly evolving space where it competes with established names like Swiggy and Blinkit. The Mumbai-based firm delivers products under 10 minutes thanks to dark stores, which are small storehouses established across neighbourhoods.

In India, Vohra and Palicha are in the company of founders such as Ritesh Agarwal, who started at 17 and turned Oyo Rooms into a unicorn. Apart from the startup boom, the journey of the Zepto founders also reflects a rising trend of young people earning big bucks, since all the 90s-born individuals on the rich list are self-made.

Not all success stories have happy endings

Among startup founders who dropped out of Stanford or Harvard, there are also cautionary tales, such as that of Elizabeth Holmes who founded Theranos. She promised a technology to revolutionise blood tests, and even modeled her image after Steve Jobs with black tutlenecks. Soon Holmes was worth $9 billion and was hailed by the media as America’s youngest self-made billionaire. But it turned out that Theranos was a scam, since its product Edison wasn’t giving accurate results, and hence the firm secretly slipped in results from traditional blood tests. By the time the scandal exploded, Holmes had even shared the stage with the likes of Jack Ma and Bill Clinton with and amassed over a billion dollars in funding for an idea that didn’t work.

Beyond self-made riches

Speaking of billionaires, the youngest billionaire ever is actually South Korea’s Kim Jung-youn, the 18-year-old daughter of Nexon-founder Kim Jung-ju, who inherited a 30 per cent stake in the game development firm. She and her sister have also paid a combined $4.6 billion as inheritance tax as per the country’s laws.

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