Ankiti Bose's fashion e-commerce start-up Zilingo is valued at $1billion USD making Ankiti the youngest chief executive in Asia apart from being the first woman CEO of a “unicorn.”
Bengaluru boasts of the first Indian woman co-founder and CEO of a unicorn (privately held startup company valued at over $1 billion). 27-year-old Ankiti Bose started her fashion company Zilingo, when she was just 23. Her company is now valued at a whopping 1 billion US dollars in just four years.
Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor began this venture together. While Bose heads the fashion aspect, Kapoor heads the company's 100-person tech team. The duo has made Zilingo what it is today after the company roped in 226 million USD from Sequoia Capital, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Germany's Burda Principal Investments. The start-up has received 306 million USD in funding.
In an interview, Ankiti said she drew inspiration from the experiences that life threw at her. With her father's job at a state-owned oil company taking their family from one city to another, Bose was exposed to different cultures right from her childhood. Her mother had given up her career as a university professor to devote time for her only child. Ankiti stated that being empathetic and sensitive when dealing with people has helped her in a huge way. "Whether it is techies in Bengaluru or the fashion gurus of Singapore or merchants, being empathetic is essential," Bose said.
Ankiti recalls being enthusiastic to learn new things, "I would raise my hand and say, 'Teach me everything'," she said in an interview. Even as a child, Ankiti Bose excelled at everything she ventured in. She graduated from St. Xavier's College in Mumbai with an economics and mathematics degree, before taking up a job with a consultancy McKinsey & Co in India. She covered India's growing technology, media and telecom sector. After gaining experience after evaluating major startups in Southeast Asia, Ankiti Bose took the entrepreneurial plunge and started Zilingo.in
Bose knew that there was a business opportunity for small merchants when she observed Bangkok's Chatuchak Market, wherein about 15,000 shops selling goods from across Thailand had no sufficient opportunity to expand. Zilingo started by helping such small merchants sell to consumers directly. Both, Ankiti and Dhruv dealt with thousands of sellers on a daily basis and realised that these sellers lacked access to technology, capital and economies. They then decided to expand to include developing software and other tools which would allow vendors to access factories from Bangladesh to Vietnam. The company also helped in cross border shipping and inventory management. The involvement doesn't stop there, the company even worked with financial technology to provide working capital to small sellers so as to help them buy raw materials.
Zilingo has now grown to have offices in eight countries with over 400 employees. It operates fashion e-commerce sites in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines while also preparing to launch in Australia.
The number of women entrepreneurs are still far less in the start-up world making Ankiti’s efforts in achieving this difficult feat highly commendable. According to sources, as of May 2018 in about 239 venture capital-backed start-ups around the world, estimated at, at least $1 billion USD, there were only 23 female founders.
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Last Updated Feb 13, 2019, 3:15 PM IST