Ankiti Bose, The Indian Woman Who Build A US$ One Billion Startup Unicorn In Less Than 5 years.
It all started at a house party in 2014, when Ankiti Bose talked to neighbor over the idea of developing an ecommerce platform in Bengaluru, India. Ankiti was working as an analysts then at Sequoia India awhile her neighbor, Dhruv Kapoor(now CTO of Zilingo) was a software engineer at a gaming studio. Four months later, both quit their jobs ad with a total savings of US60,000, they started Zilingo, an online platform that allows small merchants in Southeast Asia to build scale.
Ankiti Bose, CEO Zilingo
In February 2019, the company another raised $226 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and Temasek Holdings. That latest financing made Zilingo valuations climb toe the above US1 billion mark, making it another Unicorn in the start up industry. It also makes 27-year-old Ankiti (as she prefers to be called) among the youngest female chief executives to lead a startup of that size in Asia. Female founders remain rare in the global startup world. Of the 239 venture capital-backed startups around the world worth at least $1 billion, only 23 have a female founder. “We were a bunch of twenty-somethings with nothing to lose except this dream and we decided to chase it to the end,” Ankiti commented in an exclusive interview with Thailand Startup News.
Ankiti is now part of a group of founders in Southeast Asia who are capitalizing on the region’s rapid adoption of smartphones and rising incomes. Online shopping in the region is expected to exceed US$ 50 billion in 2020.Zilingo posted revenue of US$1.3 million) in the year ended on March Revenue grew 12 times in the year ended March 2018 and fourfold in the April to January period, according to the company.
The company initially started off by aiding small traders sell to consumers, and has since expanded into new sectors. As the Ankiti and Dhruv dealt with thousands of small sellers, they realized that many lacked access to technology, funds and economies of scale.So they expanded, developing software and other tools to allow vendors to access factories from Bangladesh to Vietnam and also help with cross-border shipping and inventory management. Since 2018, Zilingo
has also worked with financial technology firms to provide working capital to small sellers so they can buy raw materials to manufacture goods. Listings are provided complimentary with the company charging a commission of between 10 percent and 25 percent on orders.
The Zilingo Team
Some of Ankiti’s early inspiration came from a visit to Bangkok’s popular Weekend Market, Jatujak which features more than 20,000 booths selling goods from across Thailand. She realized the sellers didn’t have sufficient opportunities to expand. And also most lacked marketing knowledge and also the relevant funds for expansion.Since setting up its first presence in Thailand and Cambodia in 2015, the company has grown to have offices in eight countries with 400 employees. It operates fashion e-commerce sites in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines and is preparing to launch in Australia soon.
Born and educated in India,Ankiti’s father’s job as an engineer at a state-owned oil company caused the family to constantly move when she was a child, exposing her to different cultures and languages within the country. Her mother gave up her career as a university academic and spent her time teaching her only child at home. Bose excelled as a student, studied math and economics, and eventually landed a coveted job with consultancy McKinsey & Co. in India, where she covered India’s burgeoning technology, media and telecom sector. Ankiti took the carefully planned plunge to set up Zilingo after gaining expertise and experience evaluating major startups in Asia at Sequoia India’s venture capital business. Seing a huge opportunity to build a business herself she seized the right time and build a billion dollars business, all within a time span of less than 5 years!