This Tuesday, the Singapore-based company marked that it raised $226 million from investors including Sequoia Capital and Temasek Holdings Pte. The newer financing valued Zilingo at $970 million, according to people known with the matter, who also asked not to be named or questioned because the information is to be kept private. That makes 27-year-old Bose among the youngest female chief executives to head a startup as a maturing trade in Asia.
Back in December 2014, when Ankiti Bose, was an analyst at Sequoia India, chatted with a neighbour at a house party in the Indian tech capital Bengaluru, where Zilingo Pte’s path was to become a fashion platform with a valuation beginning to approach $1 billion. Bose was then 23-year-old and Dhruv Kapoor was 24-year-old, software engineer at gaming studio Kiwi Inc., when they randomly had a realisation that they possess complementary skills and certain ambitions to develop their individual startup. After four months they had quit their jobs, and both spent their $30,000 savings to stand out the platform, Zilingo, an online platform that allows small merchants in Southeast Asia to build scale.
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 last year. “We were a bunch of twenty-somethings with nothing except this dream and we decided to chase it,” claims Bose.
Bose is now also, member of a group of founders in Southeast Asia who are capitalizing on the region’s rapid adoption of smartphones and growing incomes. Online shopping in the region reached $23 billion in 2018, according to a report by Google and Temasek and thereof, it is also expected to exceed $100 billion by 2025. Zilingo posted revenue of S$1.8 million ($1.3 million) at the end of March 31, 2017, up from about $434,000 since its inception though March 2016, according to the company’s most recent filing with Singapore regulators. For a brief noting, revenue branched 12 times at the ned of year on March 2018 and fourfold in the April to January phase, according to the company. The company marked it’s beginning by lending a hand to small merchants sell to consumers, and has since explored its sea into further new margins.
As the founders dealt with thousands of small sellers, they also realised that many of them were left behind with 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.
Since 2018, Zilingo had also been working with financial technology firms to fit out working capital to small sellers so that they can purchase raw materials to formulate goods. “I kept raising my hand and said, ‘Teach me everything,’” Bose marked of her pre-startup years. “I busted my ass, working 18 hours a day because it was so much fun.”