Ankiti Bose is the first woman CEO and founder of a high-value start-up in India. Recently, her company, an e-commerce fashion website, Zilingo, was valued at $970 million nearly reaching Unicorn status.
The 27-year-old co-founded Zilingo four years ago along with Dhruv Kapoor, an IIT Guwahati alumnus. He heads the branch in Bengaluru which powers the operations while Ankiti heads the Singapore branch.
Bose met Kapoor in Bengaluru when she was looking for investments for her company in 2014. He was working as a software engineer at a gaming studio named Kiwi.
Recently, 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.
"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," Bose was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
The start-up which caters to the South-East Asian market had made its first appearance in Thailand and Cambodia in 2015. It then spread to Indonesia and the Philippines.
Bloomberg reports that it is looking to set up its next branch in Australia soon. Currently, Zilingo is present in eight countries and has 400 employees in total.
Bose 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 empathise with the different cultures of women from South East Asia and the capability to cater to their various fashion requirements.
Before starting Zilingo, Bose worked at McKinsey & Co. where she learned about the start-up market in India. One of the reasons she started Zilingo was because she noticed that there weren't many retail websites catering to South-east Asia.
"Ankiti was a terrific member of the analyst class at Sequoia India before starting Zilingo-she was razor sharp, hardworking and always switched on. While she always had the raw ingredients, it's been amazing to witness her transformation into a bold and dynamic founder and a business leader," Shailendra Singh, the MD of Sequoia Capital India, told TOI.
Singh added, "While Bose has figured out a way to differentiate Zilingo, her challenge is to now manage the company's "hyper-growth" by recruiting the right leadership team and maintaining the right culture."