From Amazon Engineer to Billionaire: The Inspiring Journey of Apoorva Mehta

Apoorva Mehta, founder of Instacart, turned an everyday inconvenience into a billion-dollar opportunity, revolutionizing the grocery delivery space

From Amazon Engineer to Billionaire: The Inspiring Journey of Apoorva Mehta

Thursday September 21, 2023,

3 min Read

When Apoorva Mehta walked away from a promising career at Amazon as a supply chain engineer in 2010, he had entrepreneurial ambitions but no concrete idea of what he would pursue. Today, at 37 years old, he has solidified his place among self-made billionaires with a net worth of $1.3 billion, thanks to Instacart, a grocery delivery giant he founded in 2012.

Mehta’s success story is a compelling narrative of persistence and the ability to pivot when confronted with failures. Before he hit it big with Instacart, the Indian-origin entrepreneur had embarked on multiple startup ventures. From attempting to build a social network tailored for legal professionals to a marketing firm designed for gaming companies, Mehta experienced a string of setbacks. However, what makes his journey remarkable is that instead of being discouraged, he drew inspiration from a very commonplace problem—his empty refrigerator.

One day, as he stared at his barren fridge, the proverbial lightbulb went on. Mehta identified a universal pain point: the inconvenience of grocery shopping in a digital age where almost every other commodity could be bought online. He took it upon himself to resolve this issue and immediately began coding what would become the first version of the Instacart app. Within a short span, Instacart attracted $2.3 million in venture capital funding, and the rest is history.

The San Francisco-based company now serves more than 14,000 U.S. cities, collaborating with significant retail partners like Aldi, Costco, and Kroger. Last Tuesday, the firm debuted on Nasdaq, its shares rocketing 12% higher, and subsequently reaching a towering valuation of approximately $9.9 billion. Although the company did not maintain its initial 43% intraday gain, the IPO signaled the climax of Mehta’s 11-year association with Instacart, allowing him to exit with a monumental fortune.

On CNBC’s "Squawk Box," Mehta summed up his experience, saying that he left Amazon because he aspired to be an entrepreneur. Indeed, Mehta’s story is a testament to the value of tenacity, vision, and the courage to take risks. For Mehta, Instacart was more than just a business; it was a solution to an everyday issue that millions encounter. As he moves beyond his role at Instacart, Mehta leaves behind not just a thriving enterprise but also an indelible mark on the landscape of American entrepreneurship.

In a world that often glorifies overnight success, Apoorva Mehta’s odyssey is a humbling reminder that sometimes, all it takes is an empty refrigerator and an unwavering resolve to turn dreams into billion-dollar realities.

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