Ankiti Bose, a 27 year old woman has become the first Indian woman to be the CEO of a startup company, an e-commerce fashion website, Zilingo, is valued at $970 million nearly reaching Unicorn status. Zilingo is South East Asia’s largest fashion & lifestyle marketplace that provides buyers with unprecedented access to millions of products, and free-of-cost access to analytics, speedy logistics and secure payments to merchants.
Ankiti, back in 2014, co-founded her company Zilingo along with an IIT Guwahati alumnus Dhruv Kapoor who heads the branch in Bengaluru which powers the operations while Ankiti heads the Singapore branch.
In February 2019, Zilingo received $226 million as investment from Sequoia Capital, Temasek and Burda Principal Investments. According to information from Pitchbook in May 2018, out of 239 venture capital-backed start-ups worth $1 billion, only 23 have female founders.
The other thing working in its favor, in Ankiti’s own words, is her cross-cultural sensitivity. The co-founder says that sensitivity and empathy when dealing with people across cultures, be it techies in Bengaluru, fashion gurus in Singapore or conservative Muslim traders in Indonesia, has helped her in taking Zilingo to such great heights.
Ankiti says to the Times of India, “Personally, a lot of men have been very helpful to me in my journey. But of course, if you have more women in venture capital and more female entrepreneurs, then things will get a lot better.”
Ankiti Bose, though born of Bengali family in India, grew up at Mumbai. She has studied math and economics from Mumbai’s St Xavier’s College and also worked with consultancy McKinsey & Co. Her company Zilingo Pte was conceptualized in 2014 when she used to work as an analyst at Sequoia India. It was while having a conversation with a neighbor Dhruv Kapoor, a 24-year-old software engineer at gaming studio Kiwi Inc, at a house party in Bengaluru that both realized that their skill set complemented each other and both wanted to start their own venture. Not much later, the duo quit their jobs and founded Zilingo, an online fashion platform which also allows small South Asian merchants to grow their brand.
Ankiti was inspired to start Zilingo when she visited the Chatuchak market, a popular market in Bangkok which has over 15,000 stalls selling goods from across Thailand. Bose said that one of the reasons for Zilingo’s success was her being able to empathize with the different cultures of women from South East Asia and the capability to cater to their various fashion requirements.
Ankiti is an exemplified icon for all women particularly in Asian countries. Her endeavors and efforts to make successful venture brought her at this position today. Her achievement has come as a much-required and hugely appreciated success in the startup scenario worldwide.