Fashion Startup Zilingo Raises $226 Million From Singapore's Temasek, Others

Cornelia Mascio
Febbraio 14, 2019

Zilingo co-founder and chief executive Ankiti Bose.

The duo has made Zilingo what it is today after the company roped in 226 million United States dollars from Sequoia Capital, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Germany's Burda Principal Investments.

The startup has racked up a total $306 million in funding. Her mother had given up her career as a university professor to devote time for her only child. Of the total $3 trillion in fashion manufacturing done globally, about $1.4 trillion is done from Asia, according to the company, presenting a much bigger opportunity than consumerfacing commerce business. She says having empathy and being sensitive when dealing with people across cultures-from techies in Bengaluru to fashion gurus in Singapore to conservative Muslim merchants in Indonesia-has helped her.

"I kept raising my hand and said, 'Teach me everything, '" Bose said of her pre-startup years. Even as a child, Ankiti Bose excelled at everything she ventured in. She covered India's growing technology, media and telecom sector.

She came up with the idea after a visit to Bangkok's popular Chatuchak market, which features more than 15,000 booths selling goods from across Thailand. Zilingo started by helping such small merchants sell to consumers directly. As the founders dealt with thousands of small sellers, they realized that many lacked access to technology, capital and economies of scale. So to help themselves with the expantion, they led with the developing software and other tools to make vendors to access factories from Bangladesh to Vietnam and also introduce with cross-border shipping and inventory management. The company declined to provide valuation.

Zilingo now has offices in eight countries with more than 400 employees, including about 80 engineers in Bengaluru, India. It then spread to Indonesia and the Philippines. The number of women entrepreneurs stood at 14% in 2018, according to a Nasscom survey, up from 10% and 11% in the previous two years, respectively.

While the concept of female founders remains rare in the society and a startup maturation world, of the 239 venture capital-backed startups around the globe worth at least $1 billion, only 23 have a female founder, according to data provided from Pitchbook in May a year ago.

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