Shop Talk: Independent Fashion Marketplace Zilingo Closes Series C Round with $54M
The e-commerce start-up has now raised a total capital of $82M
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
When Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor co-founded mobile marketplace Zilingo in October 2015, the big goal was to connect the highly fragmented landscape of fashion supply in Asia to fashion lovers across the globe.
It’s made headway since, having grown its revenues 11x and with now over 10,000 merchants using the platform to sell to millions of individual and wholesale customers around Asia and the world. Today, Zilingo sells in Indonesia, Thailand, and Singapore, ships internationally to four more countries, and has supply bases in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Cambodia.
Earlier this week, the seller-centric fashion marketplace closed its Series C round, raising USD$54 million of fresh capital and taking its total funding to USD$82 million. The round was led by Sofina, Burda Principal Investments, and Sequoia Capital India, with Amadeus Capital joining in as a new investor. All existing investors participated in the round, including American billionaire Tim Draper, SIG, Venturra, Beenext, and Manik Arora.
“The Zilingo investment is special for Sequoia,” relates Shailendra Singh, managing director of Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore. “Our association started with a seed investment even before the Zilingo service was first launched. Ankiti and Dhruv have totally impressed us with the quality of team they have assembled, their innovative e-commerce strategy and playbook, and their speed and quality of execution, all of which resulted in more than 10x revenue growth in the last year. This new round, finalized weeks after the last one, is a ringing endorsement of how much potential the investor group sees in the company.”
Albert Shyy, principal at Burda, concurs. “Zilingo is creating a complete ecosystem for merchants to grow their online fashion business in Southeast Asia and beyond — we believe there is an untapped opportunity across the entire Asian fashion value chain and continue to be very impressed with the company’s trajectory,” he says.
Doubling down on Southeast Asia
With its 330 million Internet users, the potential in Southeast Asia is vast. The e-commerce market alone is expected to be worth $88 billion by 2025, with Google figures revealing Southeast Asians spend 140 minutes shopping online every month — almost twice as much time as Americans in e-commerce marketplaces.
Zilingo’s proprietary seller platform, which enables merchants to upload and manage their inventory in any language, using any currency, and connects them through 25 APIs with logistics, warehousing and payment providers, puts it in a good position to take advantage of the Southeast Asian market.
Bose recognizes that playing in the unique, high-margin category of fashion with its fast-moving cycles and nuances, entails a different approach than the rest of e-commerce.
“It’s not like buying detergent or electronics; fashion is much more about your choice, individuality, and trends,” she says, adding that “nowhere in the world has a horizontal e-commerce company also cracked fashion. The market is showing us the right signs in terms of adoption and retention, so it’s good to double down. We are grateful to all the investors for continuously showing great faith in our team and our vision for fashion commerce in this region.”
According to Pratiti Chakraborty, Zilingo’s head of finance, “the fresh infusion of capital will be used to focus deeply and boost the Indonesia business, foray into other ASEAN markets like the Philippines and the cross-border businesses.” The plan is also to further expand Zilingo’s supply base across Cambodia and Bangladesh, in addition to its existing bases in ASEAN.
It’s worth noting that Zilingo’s diverse workforce gives it a competitive edge in a market that’s anything but homogeneous. Currently, 50% of Zilingo’s leadership team are women, with members of the LGBT community well-represented.
“Being a tech company, this gives us a unique edge while scaling,” shares Bose. “Zilingo’s leadership team comes from 10 different countries in Asia, Europe, and North America, and speak in 15 different languages. The cultural diversity gives the team a unique perspective on how to solve challenges with creative solutions,” she says.