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[YS Exclusive] Zepto hires CoinSwitch's Ramesh Bafna as CFO with IPO in sight

Bafna, who will join Zepto next month, led cryptocurrency firm CoinSwitch as CFO for 11 months. Prior to that, he was the CFO at Sequoia-backed Zilingo and Flipkart-owned Myntra.

[YS Exclusive] Zepto hires CoinSwitch's Ramesh Bafna as CFO with IPO in sight

Saturday April 15, 2023 , 4 min Read

Zepto has hired cryptocurrency firm CoinSwitch's Chief Financial Officer Ramesh Bafna to lead its finance division, replacing Jitendra Nagpal, who had joined the Y Combinator-backed quick-commerce startup two-and-a-half years ago.

Bafna had joined CoinSwitch in June last year after a brief stint at the troubled Singapore-based fashion tech startup Zilingo. He was previously also CFO at Flipkart-owned Myntra.

Nagpal, previously Vice President of Finance at healthtech major Pharmeasy, plans to establish a venture capital fund to back startups across sectors shortly, and will provide consultancy services to startups meanwhile. His notice period could end as early as next month, according to two people aware of the developments.

"Ramesh is a best-in-class ecommerce CFO and he will build a best-in-class finance team at Zepto," Aadit Palicha, CEO of Zepto, said in a statement issued after YourStory reached out to Zepto seeking confirmation on Nagpal's exit.

"Through disciplined execution, Zepto is delivering incredible progress on growth and profitability. To take Zepto public in 2-3 years, we believe we need an incredible CFO and Ramesh is the right person for the job," Palicha said.

Bafna previously was also head of finance at Flipkart for fashion, home and furniture, and other categories. He is also an investor in a few startups, including Teamonk, agritech platform Hesa, and house-of-brands firm White Inc.

"Quick commerce has grown significantly in the last 18-24 months and it is exciting to be part of a company that has established a significant presence in the category," Bafna told YourStory in a phone interview. He added that as CFO, he would ensure Zepto's "finance team has the right leadership and a strong team to improve the company's baseline, keeping in mind good governance."

Founded in 2021 by Palicha and Kaivalya Vohra, Zepto became one of the highest-funded quick-commerce startups in the country, giving intense competition to Swiggy Instamart and Zomato-owned Blinkit. It has raised $361 million so far from investors including Y Combinator, Nexus Venture Partners Global Founders Capital, and Glade Brook Capital, valued at close to $900 million.

Zepto is currently in the market to raise more funds, according to the persons mentioned earlier.

"Zepto is looking to secure more money given that quick commerce is a cash-intensive business. But we know that it is tough to raise money without disturbing the valuation in this market," said one of the persons mentioned earlier.

Palicha denied the company was raising funds, stating that Zepto had sufficient cash in the bank.

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A spokesperson for CoinSwitch confirmed Bafna's exit, saying he had "decided to pursue a new role that supports his future career goals," and that it was "ensuring a smooth transition of leadership."

The CFO shuffle at Zepto comes as the startup juggles with the tricky economics of quick commerce.

The startup recently introduced a scheduling service for groceries, while continuing to offer 10-minute deliveries as its core service. It has since shut the service.

Zepto has also expanded its offerings by launching a farmer engagement app to digitise supply chains and source a wider variety of fruits and vegetables. In April last year, it launched Zepto Cafe to deliver coffee and snacks within 10-20 minutes in an attempt to diversify revenue sources.

CEO Palicha had told Moneycontrol last year that Zepto's cash burn rate was much lower than that of companies with the same revenue scale, and that operating costs and discounts accounted for about 20% of that.

Zepto isn't alone. Reliance-owned JioMart shut its express delivery operations last month. Mobility firm Ola closed Ola Dash in June last year. Other similar businesses including Swiggy's Instamart, Zomato's Blinkit, and Bigbasket's BBNow are looking to increase order values and lengthen delivery timelines to cut losses.

YourStory reported last month that Swiggy had rebranded its morning grocery delivery service Supr Daily to InsanelyGood, doing away with the subscription model.

"We're realising that to perfect this model and this category, we need to have a combination of both decades of experience—our leadership team of specialists has decades of experience in supply chain and growth, marketing and finance—and first-principles thinking, which we bring in with our fresh perspectives," Palicha had said at YourStory's TechSparks 2022.

(The copy has been updated to include comments by Zepto's incoming CFO Ramesh Bafna and CoinSwitch, and to clarify that Zepto has shut its scheduling service.)

(Cover image by Chetan Singh.)

Edited by Feroze Jamal