Online grocery delivery platform Zepto has raised $200 million in Series-E funding, valuing the company at $1.4 billion and establishing it as 2023’s first unicorn. As a result, India’s 11-month unicorn drought has ended. The StepStone Group, a US asset management firm, led the Series E financing, which comprised Goodwater Capital and other current investors. Zepto’s valuation increased from $900 million in May 2022 to over $1 billion today.
The funding is especially significant because Zepto is the first unicorn, or business valued at more than $1 billion, to be minted in India this year. Molbio Diagnostics was the latest to earn unicorn status in September 2022. Molbio Diagnostics is a molecular diagnostics company that specialises in the low-cost diagnosis of tuberculosis and other diseases.
During the peak of the fundraising boom in 2021, the country added a unicorn virtually every week. Reports state that in 2021, 44 firms joined the unicorn club, with 23 joining last year. Since then, investors have tightened their purse strings and have been selective in which firms they support, reflecting their cautious approach.
Of the $200 million raised by Zepto, $105 million reportedly came from new investors StepStone Group ($75 million) and Goodwater Capital ($30 million). Both are said to be new investors in the Mumbai-based startup.
While this is StepStone’s first direct investment in India, Goodwater Capital has previously invested in audio-streaming startup Pocket FM as well as edtech businesses Teachmint and Yellowclass.
Furthermore, the remaining $95 million was provided by previous investors like Nexus Venture Partners, Glade Brook Capital, and Lachy Groom. Except for Nexus, Zepto hasn’t aggressively raised money from India-focused venture capitalists, but that could change in the future, co-founder Aadit Palicha told Moneycontrol in an interview.
StepStone, which has $140 billion in assets under management, is a minority partner in Lachy Groom, Nexus VP, Goodwater Capital, and other funds that have already invested in Zepto.
Zepto CEO Aadit Palicha
Aadit Palicha, born in 2001 in Mumbai, began his business career as an entrepreneur at the age of 17. He started the firm GoPool before attending Stanford University in the United States to study computer engineering. He did, however, leave the course in middle to start his own business. He was taking a significant professional risk, but the gamble paid off.
Aadit Palicha and his friend Kaivalya Vohra launched the grocery delivery web platform Zepto in April 2021. The startup’s valuation surpassed $200 million after just one month of operation. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the idea of supplying groceries in under 10 minutes became a massive hit.
The platform delivered more than 10 lakh orders in 2021, operating in 86 grocery businesses. The company’s valuation spiked to $570 million in just 5 months of operation. The Zepto’s success earned Palicha and Vohra a mention in the Hurun List Under 30 Entrepreneurs.