While 2020 was a grim year for countless businesses across the world, strangely, it was also a time when India added new billionaires to its list. In fact, India now stands third in the number of Indian-origin billionaires after China and the US.
The COVID-induced lockdown came as a blessing in disguise for a handful of entrepreneurs who sure made the best out of the situation.
One of the youngest of this is the 34-year-old Apoorva Mehta, founder of the grocery delivery app, Instacart. And along with him is Nikhil Kamath of Zerodha, also 34, in the feat with a net worth of $1.7 billion each.
Mehta’s Instacart saw exponential growth during the lockdown in 2020 and made him a billionaire. The San Francisco-headquartered grocery delivery app helps users to buy groceries and medicines from local pharmacies and retailers. Instacart also provides “personal shoppers” who pick up a user’s order from the store and deliver it to their doorstep.
Born in India, Mehta grew up in Canada. He studied engineering at the University of Waterloo. According to Forbes, Mehta worked with companies such as Blackberry, Qualcomm and Amazon before founding Instacart in 2012. In 2010, he left Amazon to begin his entrepreneurial journey and moved to San Francisco, US.
According to LA Times, between 2010 and 2012, Mehta had come up with 20 start-up ideas, which failed. Then he thought of doing something to solve his daily problems like grocery shopping.
Forbes quoted Mehta speaking at a Y Combinator talk in 2014, “The reason to start a company should never be to start a company. The reason to start a company should be to solve a problem that you truly, truly care about.”
In fact, Mehta went ahead only after first testing the utility of the app on himself. The Forbes report mentions that Mehta was Instacart’s first customer and personal shopper, adding that he used to order his own groceries through his app, pick them and deliver it to himself.
The app’s increased popularity amid the lockdown and latest funding round, when the company raised $225 million, helped catapult Instacart’s valuation to $13.7 billion from $7.9 billion, as estimated by Forbes. This increased the value of Mehta’s 10 percent stake in the company to $1.2 billion, making him the newest member of the billionaires’ club.
Instacart has now expanded from San Francisco to more than 5,500 cities across the US and Canada. Instacart has also hired 3 lakh, new shoppers, since March 2020 and plans to hire 2.5 lakh more for one-hour or same-day deliveries.
There are now 3,228 billionaires globally, up from 414 in 2020. Their total wealth rose $3.5 trillion or 32 percent to $14.7 trillion.