Singapore's Zilingo raises $226M to expand fashion site

Ankiti Bose | Ore Huiying  Bloomberg

Ankiti Bose | Ore Huiying Bloomberg

"Zilingo's comprehensive platform allows consumers to have greater access to a diversity of fashion merchants, fostering cross-border partnerships between micro merchants and manufacturers, and providing them with value-added services including working capital financing".

The Singapore-headquartered company raked in $226 million in the latest round from Sequoia Capital, Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek and Germany's Burda Principal Investments. According to the 57-country list of Mastercard Index for Women Entrepreneurs (2018), India ranked 52, just ahead of Iran, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt and Bangladesh.

Zilingo is powered through Bangalore where its co-founder, Dhruv Kapoor, leads a team of 100 people. They then chose to expand to include developing software and other tools which would allow vendors to access factories from Bangladesh to Vietnam. The company claims to have grown 4x by revenue in the last 12 months. Both, Ankiti and Dhruv dealt with thousands of sellers on a daily basis and realised that these sellers lacked access to technology, capital and economies.

Clothing items hang on racks next to a mannequin at the Zilingo Pte office in Singapore.

She came up with the idea after a visit to Bangkok's popular Chatuchak market, which features more than 15,000 booths selling goods from across Thailand. She realized the sellers didn't have sufficient opportunities to expand. It operates fashion e-commerce sites in Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines while also preparing to launch in Australia.

Shailendra Singh, managing director at Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore, said: "Sequoia's investment in Zilingo dates back to when the company wasn't even yet incorporated and the name wasn't finalised".

Bose met Kapoor in Bengaluru when she was looking for investments for her company in 2014. Her mother had given up her career as a university professor to devote time for her only child. Bose excelled as a student, studied math and economics, and eventually landed a coveted job with consultancy McKinsey & India, where she covered India's burgeoning technology, media and telecom sector. Of the total $3 trillion in fashion manufacturing done globally, about $1.4 trillion is done from Asia, according to the company, presenting a much bigger opportunity than consumerfacing commerce business.

Ankiti recalls being enthusiastic to learn new things, "I would raise my hand and say, "Teach me everything", she said in an interview. Only the headline has been changed.

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