When Kaivalya Vohra wanted to drop out of Stanford University to run his startup, it took “a couple of long conversations” to convince his parents.
But getting them on board was not that difficult, he said.
“They saw how this business grew in front of them, they saw how quickly we achieved what we achieved.”
It took just nine months for Vohra and his co-founder, Aadit Palicha, to bring Zepto — an app from India that promises to deliver groceries in less than 1[ads1]0 minutes — to a $900 million valuation.
How did two teenagers build one of India’s fastest growing e-commerce apps? CNBC Make It finds out.
1. Talk to the customers
Finding a good product-market fit is important, Vohra said. His advice on how to do it?
“Talk to the customers. Just use it as a holy grail [to] ensure you are on the right track to find the 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 learning from them,” he added to.
In Zepto’s early days, the 19-year-olds handled customer support themselves, delivering groceries to consumers just so they could have a quick chat with them.
“We still do it to this day … We have millions of customers, with hundreds of thousands of orders every day. [We still] spend a significant amount of time just talking to customers and learning from them,” Palicha said.
“Going in with the mindset that you’re wrong and learning where to get right … that journey has been humbling.”
2. Fall in love with your product
Palicha and Vohra were not always taken seriously – not only because of their age, but also because of the “craziness” of a sub-10-minute delivery idea.
“When we started this 12 months ago, every conversation we had was, ‘You’re out of your mind, this is never going to work,'” Palicha said.
But their belief in the product kept them going.
“Kaivalya and I fell so in love with the product that we just saw ourselves as custodians of what would probably end up being a huge consumer internet phenomenon in India,” Palicha said.
“If we don’t build it, someone else will. When you operate with that mentality, everything becomes less intimidating.”
That’s why the duo was able to have “challenging conversations” with investors, senior executives and even a government official, Palicha added.
Despite being just one of many companies to join the immediate trading wave, it has caught the attention of investors. The 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 just pushes you to … see the product through,” Palicha said.
3. Be responsible
Palicha and Vohra have been friends since they were seven years old – a huge advantage as they went from childhood friends to business partners.
“Kaivalya and I really complement each other’s skills. He’s always been more technically sound than me, so he’s become a great technology manager,” Palicha said.
“12 months ago, when we built the first iteration of the product, I don’t think we would have been able to get it off the ground [without him].”