Ashneer Grover was still firmly in his seat as the CEO and co-founder at BharatPe when Aseem Ghavri decided to pitch to him his digital transformation startup Code Brew Labs, hoping to score a mentor.
In his pitch, Ghavri included his personal journey as well–that of a bootstrapped entrepreneur from Chandigarh daring to dream beyond the confines of the city.
“I told him all about Code Brew’s success and my personal journey throughout those years,” Ghavri told YourStory, revealing for the first time to the media his status as a co-founder at Ashneer Grover’s latest venture, Third Unicorn Pvt. Ltd.
The entrepreneur, now 32, would later meet Grover at social gatherings in Delhi and on other occasions, with their conversations increasingly veering towards a potential partnership.
Interestingly, Code Brew had developed the first version of BharatPe’s app.
“I had never personally met Ashneer during that time. I was just in touch with the tech team,” Ghavri said.
Grover was forced to exit BharatPe in February last year following a series of controversies, including allegations of financial fraud by his wife Madhuri Jain Grover.
Following that, on his 40th birthday in June, Ashneer Grover declared he was working on his next venture, Third Unicorn. (A reference to the two billion-dollar startups he had worked at before–BharatPe, valued at $2.85 billion during its fundraise in August 2021, and Grofers, now Zomato-owned BlinkIt, where he was the CFO.)
Ghavri says he has been working alongside Grover at Third Unicorn since its incorporation in June.
Ashneer Grover did not immediately reply to text messages from YourStory.
On Monday, Ashneer Grover, flaunting his usual bravado, posted a teaser on LinkedIn about his new venture, inviting applicants to join a team of a maximum 50 employees and asking venture capital investors to stay away. He did, however, state that potential investors could “get a hold of him” directly to join the cap table at Third Unicorn.
The teaser revealed nothing else about the nature of the company.
“Let’s get some work done in 2023! We at Third Unicorn have been quietly and peacefully building a market shaking business. Bootstrapped. Without limelight. And we are doing things differently. Very differently. So if you want to be part of the next TODU-FODU thing, here’s a sneak peek on HOW we are building! WHAT we are building remains the billion-dollar question!,” Ashneer Grover wrote.
While Ghavri refrained from revealing any details on the venture, he said Third Unicorn would be making some big announcements in February.
Asked about the controversies surrounding Grover, Ghavri said, “Those do not bother me at all. I have been associated with Ashneer for sometime now and have full faith in him. He is a great businessman and has a clear conscience. It’s an honour.”
Journey of a Rs 100-crore tech firm
Born and brought up in Chandigarh, Ghavri completed his Bachelor of Engineering degree in Computer Science from Panjab University. Straight out of college, the first-generation entrepreneur started a gaming app development studio in 2013 with his friends.
During his college days, Aseem had started a small food truck business across the city, called Hungryville, with a personal investment of Rs 8,000. The ploughed the money earned from the business into launching Code Brew Labs, which later grew into an enterprise tech solution provider.
Ghavri co-founded two other ventures as well—Retainlytics (a data analytics product), and Fush (a social media app). Both were later shuttered.
Today, Code Brew provides a complete app development ecosystem, including UI/UX design and analytics. The company recently launched a marketing and growth consulting firm called Venture Souls, and a blockchain-focused firm, Block Brew.
Code Brew, Ghavri said, has more than 10,000 clients, including BharatPe, Vodafone, Nielson, RedVault, and Prostop Canada.
The Chandigarh-headquartered company also has presence in Dubai, New York, London and Mexico. With a team of about 600 employees, the company earns annual turnover in excess of Rs 100 crore, according to Ghavri.
“(Code Brew) is in an automated mode now and teams are in place. I will now be focusing on the new venture,” Ghavri said.
In the LinkedIn teasers for his new venture, Ashneer Grover resorted to an old hiring gimmick–hinting at Mercedeses for employees staying with Third Unicorn for at least five years. (BharatPe had in 2021 offered BMW motorcycles to engineers joining the company.)
So what does a co-founder get? Well, Aseem Ghavri gets to go on a ride with Ashneer Grover–out of Chandigarh and into the national spotlight.