- Aadit Palicha co-founded e-commerce company Zepto after quitting Stanford
- Latest funding round makes company first in India to hit unicorn status in 2023
- Palicha says attention to detail and focus on excellence are secrets of success
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates: 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, will celebrate his 21st birthday later this month as the co-founder of India’s newest US$1.4 billion company.
Zepto, which brings top quality groceries to the doors of millions of customers, was heralded last week as India’s first unicorn business – a private start-up valued at US$1 billion or more – for 2023 following a successful round of new funding.
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.
“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,” said Aadit.
“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.”
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.
His former principal at GEMS Modern Academy, Nargish Khambatta, recalls the meaningful projects Aadit 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.
GEMS Education, inspired by Founder Sunny Varkey, who built the region’s largest private education provider from a starting point of one small school, puts a major emphasis on nurturing future entrepreneurial talents across all its 44 schools in the UAE and Qatar.
GEMS Founders School – Dubai: Year 10 student Aliza Siddiqui launched the Siddiqui Academy, an online tutoring platform created by students for students, in response to the Covid pandemic. The Academy, created in the summer of 2021, helped students who required guidance and free tutoring sessions to assist them in their learning following the closure of classsrooms across the world.
Jumeirah College: A Year 13 student and Head Boy at his school, Hugh Glenwright creates illustrations for lovers of pop culture and connects with other artists who inspire him as he develops his skills as an artist. After establishing his YouTube channel, in 2021, Hugh launched a website that serves as a portfolio and online shop, selling posters, stickers, and tutorials.
GEMS Dubai American Academy: Brothers Ali, Basel, and Nehme Nesr (Grades 7, 4, and 2 respectively) launched their own children’s perfume, the Little Perfumers. The brothers’ story started in Lebanon, where they began experimenting by grinding flowers and water. They progressed from such modest beginnings to sell their product in several stores across Dubai and Lebanon, as well as online. Part of their proceeds support the Children’s Cancer Centre of Lebanon (CCCL).
The Millennium School – Dubai: Pulkit Chopra was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affected not only his motor skills, but also his speech, vision, and hearing. He was also diagnosed with a kidney condition called Nephrotic Syndrome. He firmly believes that People of Determination (PoD) deserve the same opportunities in life as anyone else and, to that end, launched Project Happiness after leaving school. The E-commerce platform provides PoD with opportunities to monetise their skills and achieve greater social and economic inclusion in society.
GEMS World Academy – Dubai: Carbon Wallet was founded by a team of students who are now in Grade 12, led by Arnav Kedia. They have had interest from various brands and are being mentored by the founder of CAFU, Rashid Al Ghurair, and the company’s development team. The app aims to gamify sustainability via the use of points, rewards, and redemption options made available through partners based on participants’ sustainable activities.
About GEMS Education
GEMS Education is one of the world’s oldest and largest K-12 private education providers. It is a highly regarded choice for quality private education in the Middle East and North Africa region. As a company founded in the UAE in 1959, it holds an unparalleled track record of providing diverse curricula and educational choices to all socio-economic means. GEMS Education now owns and operates 63 schools and educates over 130,000 students in the MENA region; and through its growing network of schools as well as charitable contributions is fulfilling the founder’s vision of putting a quality education within the reach of every child.