Hey folks!

I don’t think any of us have been able to get over the success of Chandrayaan-3 yet. It was a historic moment for the country. And we’re proud of the folks at ISRO who made it possible.

India became the fourth country to ever land a spacecraft on the Moon. And we did it with a shoestring budget too — ₹615 crores!

That’s way less than all of the glam the film industry puts into their movies. The latest Mission: Impossible franchise for instance cost a whopping $290 million. That’s 4x the budget of Chandrayaan-3! Even the latest Indian films like Adipurush didn’t come cheap. Its producers burnt close to ₹700 crores on it.

Now granted, this isn't a fair comparison. But it does put into context how much we can achieve with so little. Our scientists never believed in splashing the cash. They made sure that parts from untested rockets weren’t going to waste. For instance, 30% of the sub-systems that went into the Chandrayaan-1 were used in other operations. So, yeah that’s how the Chandrayaan-3 may have become a rather nifty economical enterprise.

Oh, and people are already registering titles to create a Bollywood flick about it. And yup, Akshay Kumar is on the list. 😁

Here’s a soundtrack to put you in the mood🎵

Behtar by #VG

A shout out to our reader Vipul Mehta for this groovy recommendation.

A couple of things caught our eye this week 👀

Zepto becomes a unicorn. But how? 🤔

India’s Unicorn Club welcomed Zepto aboard this week. It raised $200 million in a Series E round that valued the company at $1.4 billion. And that makes it the first startup to bag the unicorn trophy in India this year!

It even managed to convince PE firm StepStone Group to make its first direct investment into an Indian company. And oh, in case you were wondering, a Series E is the fifth major round of funding in a startup’s fundraising process after Series A, B, C and so on.

Anyway, Zepto’s successful fundraise is in contrast to what its competitors are facing. Look at Dunzo for example. The delivery app was last valued at $775 million in 2022. But it is cash strapped now and desperately needs fresh funds. But reports suggest that this could only happen if it agrees to halve its valuation. And Reliance, its largest investor doesn’t want that. In short, Dunzo isn’t having its best days.

Then how did Zepto manage to flip the script?

Well, Zepto says that it has reduced the amount of cash it burns by nearly 70% compared to the previous year. Maybe part of it is because it laid off over 500 employees. But that’s not the only factor. They say that their customer acquisition costs for the 9 months ending April 2023 have nearly halved too. And that its ads have been able to generate nearly 5 times the revenue it used to for the same period earlier. Add to this the fact that it has been able to turn most of its dark stores (sprinkled across locations for quicker delivery) EBITDA positive or profitable before considering expenses such as interest, taxes and depreciation.

At least, this is what Zepto’s founders have said in interviews.

And to capture people’s attention even further, it now wants to scale up its fairly new service Zepto Cafe, which sources quick bites like tea, coffee, samosas and croissants. These items come from cloud kitchens of brands like Chaayos and Blue Tokai inside Zepto’s dark stores. Seems like a way to increase the Average Order Values in the long run, eh?

What’s next? A Zomato-style net profit?

We’ll have to wait and see how that plays out.

***

Reynolds 045’s Indian rendezvous

A casual scroll through my Twitter feed turned into a mini heart attack recently. @memorable_90s, a popular Twitter handle broke many millennial hearts when it said that the Reynolds 045 Fine Carbure will no longer be available in the market.

Left in denial, I simply hit search to fact check this piece of information, only to be greeted with the news that this was just a rumour. What a sigh of relief!

But that got me thinking. Why do Indians, especially us millennials, love the Reynolds 045 so much?

Well, the history of the pen dates back to 1945. A US-based businessman named Milton Reynolds had spotted a ballpoint pen — often said to have been invented by a Hungarian journalist Laszlo Biro — at a store in South America and it caught his eye.

He realised its potential since it was mess free. A stark contrast to the much used fountain pens at the time. So, he reverse engineered and manufactured it just 4 months later.

Nearly 5,000 shoppers stormed the shop when the Reynolds 045 (named after the founder and the year of its creation) debuted in New York. The havoc was such that nearly 50 police officers had to be called in to manage the crowd!

The response may have been enough for Reynolds to expand operations across the world. And so it reached India during independence. Of course, that was bad timing because people were inclined towards Swadeshi goods. So it wasn’t until the 1980s that Indians fell in love with it.

Why you ask?

Well, it was cheap. The company is a subsidiary of Newell Brands, an American manufacturer. But it made sure to source all its materials locally, besides engineering it judiciously.

Just imagine. For years the pen was selling at just ₹6 a pop. And it has just increased its price to ₹7 recently because of rising prices of plastic, ink and logistics due to pandemic related supply chain disruptions.

Also, Indians loved the fact that it was refillable. So they didn’t have to buy a new pen over and over again.

In 2016 though GM Pens, Reynolds’ Indian licensee for over 2 decades, decided not to renew its license. It wanted to stop marketing Reynolds so that it could make way for its own brand Rorito in India. But the Reynolds magic wasn’t willing to fade. It had an 18% hold over the pen market at the time. So, just a year later Reynolds partnered with Flair to make its Indian comeback.

And although the brand’s latest sales figures or market share isn’t available, it’s definitely one of the most sentimental things millennials are attached to. Are you one of them? 😊

***

France spending €200 million to destroy wine. What??

Okay, before you think that France is literally throwing away wine, it’s not. It’s actually re-purposing its excess supplies.

You see, costs are rising everywhere and France is no exception. With the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent Russia-Ukraine conflict, prices of wine inputs like cardboard packaging, corks, and even labels rose significantly. Glass prices also rose by nearly 20% in 2022 over the previous year affecting the costs of glass bottles. Some makers couldn’t find the right bottles at acceptable prices, so they had to just go with alternatives.

And that meant that the cost of production ran over the selling prices of wine. So manufacturers had to obviously tweak their prices too. The result?

Consumers switched over to other economic buying behaviour. Craft beer for instance has been gaining popularity lately. So a dip in demand converted to over supply of wine in France. Now you can’t really export that stuff at unreasonable prices, because let’s face it, the global economy isn’t in its best shape. So if it doesn’t sell across the borders, all of the expenditure will go to waste too.

And that’s exactly why the French government came up with a €200 million idea. Some of it will go to farmers to encourage them to invest in growing other products like olives. But the government will use a good chunk of the funds to buy excess wine stocks. Which will then be repurposed for use in stuff like sanitisers, cleaning agents and perfumes. That way winemakers could put a stoploss on the money they’re losing.

Quite a smart plan to save its wine industry! What do you think?

Infographic 📊

Readers Recommend 🗒️

Mastery by George Leonard

This book recommendation comes from our reader Saurabh who says that the book talks about the process and mindset that goes beneath achieving mastery in anything. It could be fitness, prioritising, keeping commitments or even being honest.

Thanks for this Saurabh!

That's our time folks! See you next week.


Finshots Weekly Quiz 🧩

It’s time to announce the winner of our previous Weekly Quiz. But before that, we wanted to tell you folks that we’ll be hitting pause on our Weekly Quiz for a couple of weeks since we’re thinking of firming up new merch. So stay tuned.

And the winner of our last quiz is… 🥁

Shalibhadra Shah! Congratulations. Keep an eye on your inbox and we’ll get in touch with you soon to send over your Finshots merch.


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