Twenty-seven-year-old Ankiti Bose is set to be the first Indian woman to co-found a billion-dollar startup. Her Southeast Asia-focussed venture Zilingo – an e-commerce platform that connects fashion retailers with consumers – racked up a $970 million valuation in February, when it raised $226 million from marquee investors including Sequoia and Singapore’s Temasek.

In just four years, the Singapore-headquartered firm has amassed 27,000 merchants and grown to employ over 500 people in the US, Australia and Hong Kong. Female founders remain rare in the startup ecosystem – just 10% of the world’s venture-backed unicorns have one.

She stated how she got ended up founding zilingo she said she was on holidays with her some friends colleagues, they were roaming around the market she was huge merchants selling online she thought this should be online too for many other customers, but the problem they didn’t know how to then she founded ziliongo headquartered in Singapore it helps vendors and manufactures directly sell to customers.

Founding a fashion empire

Bose was then a 23-year-old investment analyst working for major venture capital firm Sequoia Capital in her native India.

Based in the country’s tech hub, Bangalore, she was closely following the rise and rise of major e-commerce names like the U.S.’s Amazon, China’s Alibaba and India’s Flipkart. But she was struck by the lack of opportunities at that time for small-time merchants in Southeast Asia.

Southeast Asia represents one of the world’s largest manufacturing hubs, but many local producers lack the economies of scale to sell directly to consumers. They, therefore, must rely on third-party distributors — often to the detriment of their profit margins and working conditions.

Leading the market

Zilingo’s latest funding round puts the company on course for a likely $1 billion valuation in the coming months. Over the last year alone, its revenues have grown by four times. Zilingo would not disclose its exact figures.

That would make Bose the first Indian woman to co-found a so-called unicorn — a start-up valued at $1 billion or more. It would also put her among the just 10 percent of unicorns with a female founder, according to Pitchbook.

That feat is all the more impressive given that last year India ranked 52nd out of 57 countries in Mastercard’s Index for Women Entrepreneurs. It came in just ahead of the likes of Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Bangladesh in terms of its ability to nurture women entrepreneurs.

Source : CNBC

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