21-year-old GEMS alumnus co-founds $1.4 billion business

26 September 2023

GEMS Modern Academy alumnus points to school’s values that helped guide him in his entrepreneurial journey.

A GEMS Education alumnus, who dropped out of elite US institution Stanford University two years ago to pursue his entrepreneurial ambitions with an e-commerce start-up, made headlines around the world when the company he co-founded was declared India’s first unicorn business for 2023.

Zepto brings top quality groceries to the doors of millions of customers across India. Its US$1.4 billion valuation following a successful round of new funding gives it the coveted unicorn status – the term used to describe a private start-up valued at US$1 billion or more.

Aadit Palicha, who is Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of the company together with school friend Kaivalya Vohra, said the basic skills and core values he learned during his education at GEMS Modern Academy (GMA) has helped propel him to business success at such a young age. He graduated from GMA in 2020 with a perfect IBDP score of 45.

  • Aadit Palicha co-founded e-commerce company Zepto after quitting Stanford
  • Latest funding round made company first in India to hit unicorn status in 2023
  • Palicha says attention to detail and focus on excellence are secrets of success

Mumbai-based Aadit, whose parents still live in Dubai, launched a community-based car-pooling app called GoPool when he was 17. He learned early valuable lessons from the venture, which received a substantial seeding loan from Emirates NBD.

Aadit is now 100 per cent focused on growing Zepto in India and beyond over the next few years. Rather than amassing wealth, what drives Aadit is the excitement of running such a valuable service business, while solving the existing problem in India of efficient, reliable goods delivery at great value.

Aadit’s former principal at GEMS Modern Academy, Nargish Khambatta, recalls the meaningful projects he was involved in and referred to him fondly as “the pest from the west” – such was his persistence as a student with new innovative ideas that required her support. “He just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer and always found a way around any problem he met,” she said.

If we look at what qualities have helped us attain the growth we have, it’s been a constant drive for excellence in everything we do and attention to those micro details at every level to ensure a great service in a timely fashion. These are qualities that were always impressed on us at Modern – and also by my parents – which have given us all a good foundation for whatever we do in life.

Aadit Palicha

GEMS alumnus and CEO and Co-founder of Zepto

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