From A To Z

Tatler Singapore|June 2020

From A To Z
Be it simplifying fashion’s complicated supply chain or championing gender equality, Ankiti Bose, co-founder and CEO of technology platform Zilingo, has her sights set on providing equal opportunities for everyone
Karen Tee
Ankiti Bose may be the CEO of one of Southeast Asia’s near-unicorn companies but the 28-year-old still battles a stigma that will probably be all too familiar to many women.

“If I go to a meeting with a male colleague, most people will automatically assume he’s the senior one, or that I’m the assistant. It’s not super easy to be a woman on the ground in the commerce or trade business,” says Bose, who launched Zilingo, a technology platform for the fashion industry, with co-founder Dhruv Kapoor in 2015, when she was just 23 years old. Still, she has not let this obstacle stop her from growing the company to its US$970 million valuations today—just $30 million short of the magic US$1 billion figure to be termed a unicorn. Its backers include US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings.

Her secret, she says, is that instead of taking offense when she is mistaken for the underling, she chooses to focus on her goal of empowering the underdog through her work.

“Gender inequality is a systemic issue, so I think it is more important that we focus on making more women successful. When more people see women leading, this view will no longer be commonly perpetuated,” she tells us over a Zoom call from her home in Singapore during the country’s circuit breaker period to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

These may sound like lofty words but levelling the playing field in various ways is exactly what this dreamer has been doing since she made the jump to entrepreneurship in 2015 after working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company and an investment analyst at Sequoia.

She first got the idea to start an online platform while shopping at the Chatuchak market in Bangkok. She noticed how the sellers were suffering from reduced footfall due to the proliferation of online shopping. This sparked her idea to create an e-commerce site that sellers could use to reach out to a wider pool of customers around the world, and Zilingo was founded. In 2016, a year after launching Zilingo for small businesses, she had another realization that she could expand the platform to include larger swathes of the fashion industry’s supply chain.

“We realized small businesses have many more problems. For example, when they source goods from factories, there are agents that destroy their margins. Or they do not have a credit history for loans. It’s super unfair as everything is stacked up against them,” she says.


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June 2020