- The 33-year-old Indian American elevated to the coveted group after a new round of funding.
Another Indian American executive has entered the coveted list of billionaires.
Meet Apoorva Mehta, the 33-year-old founder and CEO of Instacart, who’s value went up thanks to the exponential growth in online shopping because of Coronavirus lockdown.
Forbes says that Mehta’s addition into the list comes after the San Francisco-based unicorn’s value rose from $7.9 billion to $13.7 billion. A unicorn is a privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion. Forbes estimates that “Mehta owns a 10 percent stake, making him the newest member of the three comma club with a net worth of $1.2 billion.”
Mehta began the grocery delivery startup in 2012. The demand for the company’s delivery model has skyrocketed due to the coronavirus pandemic. Citing estimates from Instacart, Forbes reports that the company’s “order volume has gone up by as much as 500 percent in the past 12 months,,” with the average customer spending unto 35 percent more per order.
According to the Forbes report, Instacart has hired 300,000 new shoppers since March and announced plans in April to hire 250,000 more “to get back to offering one-hour and same-day deliveries.”
In a press release issued by the company, Mehta said that Instacart has “ambitious plans for the future, and this new investment enables us to deepen our support for our shoppers and partners.” He continued: “This pandemic has fundamentally reshaped the way people think about grocery and ecommerce, and we are proud to have Instacart continue to play an important role in people’s lives now and long after this crisis subsides.”
Mehta was born in India and raised in Canada. He studied engineering at the University of Waterloo and worked as a design engineer at Blackberry and Qualcomm.
He moved to Seattle, Washington, to work at Amazon as a supply chain engineer where he worked on Amazon’s Fulfillment Engine “to deliver packages quickly and efficiently to customers,” his LinkedIn profile says. In a January 2017 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Mehta said that at Amazon, he learned that he “liked to build software, and he wanted to be challenged.” But after two years, he quit his job because he felt that he was no longer being challenged.
He then moved from Seattle to San Francisco, and started trying his hand at entrepreneurship.
Mehta told the Los Angeles Times that he tried his hand at “at least” 20 companies, before starting Instacart. He said he tried building an ad network for social gaming companies, and spent a year developing a social network specifically for lawyers. “I knew nothing about these topics, but I liked putting myself in a position where I had to learn about an industry and try to solve problems they may or may not have had,” he told the paper.
However, none of the companies worked out.
Eventually Instacart was born. Although Mehta landed on “a hot idea” and was able to partner with stores such as Whole Foods, Target and Safeway, the LA Times says that “the expansion of Instacart wasn’t without problems.”
The company was slapped with a class-action lawsuit in 2015, alleging that the workers who shopped for and delivered groceries were misclassified as independent contractors. Instacart eventually made its shoppers part-time employees, with some qualifying for benefits such as health insurance. “We went from having zero part-time employees to having people at thousands of individual store locations,” he said, “We had to figure out scheduling and what kinds of training had to be provided. We needed to figure out a lot of things.”
Instacart has since expanded from San Francisco to more than 5,500 cities and 30,000 stores in North America. The company also launched a prescription delivery service in April, which delivers medications from nearly 200 Costco pharmacies.