Founders of Indian startup Zepto share advice on how to start a business
When Kaivalya Vohra wanted to drop out of Stanford University to run her startup, it took “a few long conversations” to convince her parents.
But getting them on board wasn’t too difficult, he said.
“They saw how this business grew in front of them, they saw how quickly we achieved what we achieved.”
It took Vohra and co-founder Aadit Palicha just nine months to bring Zepto – an Indian app that promises to deliver groceries in under 10 minutes – to a $900 million valuation.
How did two teenagers create one of the fastest growing speed commerce apps in India? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Talk to customers
Finding a good product-market fit is important, Vohra said. His advice for doing this?
“Talk to customers. Just use it as a holy grail [to] make sure you are on track to find product market fit. »
“One of the hardest things is actually 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 their feedback and learn from them,” he added.
In the early days of Zepto, 19-year-olds handled customer support themselves and delivered groceries to consumers just so they could have a quick chat with them.
“We still do it today… We have millions of customers, with hundreds of thousands of orders every day. [We still] spending a lot of time talking to customers and learning from them,” Palicha said.
“Coming in with the mindset that you’re wrong and learning where to go right…this journey has been humbling.”
2. Fall in love with your product
Palicha and Vohra weren’t always taken seriously, not just because of their age, but also because of the “craziness” of a 10-minute delivery idea.
“When we started 12 months ago, every conversation we had was, ‘You are totally crazy, this will never work,'” Palicha said.
But their belief in their product drove them forward.
“Kaivalya and I fell in love with the product so much that we saw ourselves as stewards of what would probably end up being a massive phenomenon in India’s consumer internet,” Palicha said.
“If we don’t build it, someone else will. When you operate with that mentality, everything becomes less daunting.”
That’s why the duo could engage in “difficult conversations” with investors, senior executives and even a government official, Palicha added.
Although it is just one of many companies to join the wave of instant commerce, 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 belief really pushes you to… see this product through,” Palicha said.
3. Be responsible
Palicha and Vohra have been friends since they were seven years old – a major plus as they have gone from childhood pals to business partners.
“Kaivalya and I really complement each other’s skill set. He’s always been stronger than me technically, so he made a great CTO,” Palicha said.
“12 months ago when we were building the first iteration of the product, I don’t think we could have gotten it off the ground. [without him].”