Zilingo Closes Series D Funding
Is Zilingo ready to give its merchants access to the world’s most efficient supply chain?
PHOTO CREDIT: Joel Lim
Zilingo has raised US$ 226 million in Series D funding, which involved contributions by Sequoia Capital and Temasek, bringing the total funds raised by the Singapore-based company to US$ 308 million.
"Sequoia’s investment in Zilingo dates back to when the company wasn’t even yet incorporated and the name wasn’t finalized," says Shailendra Singh, managing director at Sequoia Capital (India) Singapore.
Since its founding in 2015 by ex-Sequoia analyst Ankiti Bose (CEO) and former Yahoo engineer Dhruv Kapoor (CTO), Zilingo has rapidly transformed into a platform company that serves fashion consumers, merchants, retailers, brands and manufacturers that collectively represent a multi-hundred billion dollar market.
"We are amazed by the team’s ability to envision and execute against such an ambitious road map and are excited to continue to support them on their journey," Singh adds.
The company plans to earmark the funds for the infrastructure and tech needed to further integrate and digitize the fashion and beauty supply chain, as well as finance its expansion into new markets, such as Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines.
As the ecosystem is marred by outdated tech, Kapoor posits that it is imperative to build products that introduce machine learning and data science effectively for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). "Fashion and beauty merchants are hungry for tools that can help them scale," he says.
Seeing that its small merchants lack the volume to source as cheaply as large conglomerates and the same influence to get the best rates from service providers or warehouses, Zilingo intends to expand its core business to provide its merchants access to the world’s most efficient fashion supply chain, developing its own bevy of tools that unlock the best procurement rates, optimized logistics services, financial services, insurances, loans and analytics for them. The company is building a tech platform that connects the key players in fashion: raw material suppliers, manufacturers, brands and retailers, distributors and the customer.
"It’s a many-to-many connection. Manufacturers and raw material suppliers based out of Asia’s biggest fashion supply hubs can connect to big brands and SMEs globally," Zilingo Chief Marketing Officer Marita Abraham tells Inc Southeast Asia. "At the same time, brands can connect with not only the suppliers that are based in their country, but anywhere in the world depending on the pricing, quality and quantity that they need for their brand."
Abraham explains that it's about building a high-trust ecosystem, if it means having strong partnerships with logistics players globally to get the best service quality for Zilingo's merchants and customers, and, more important, ensuring faster timelines, especially when shipping large quantities cross-border.
"For insurance and financing, the challenges when scaling are around evaluating and mitigating risk," Abraham says. "[We respond to these challenges] by ensuring we’re primarily serving the merchants who are using the platform not just [through] financing, but also procurement, sourcing and distribution."
According to Abraham, the platform has been built from Day One in anticipation of scale. This means that every additional merchant on the platform can use it like any other software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform without exacting additional stress to the company. As merchants who use the platform become more and more diverse, Zilingo is integrating more services and technology into the platform to benefit a wider variety of businesses.
More than making the supply chain more efficient, the vision is to enable more and more small businesses to compete with industry giants.
“The role of technology should be to create inclusive growth," Bose says. "In the fashion industry, core supply-chain inefficiencies hinder SMEs from unlocking their full potential as compared to the big brands. We are building a level playing field by providing the best-in-class services and products to each merchant--irrespective of their size."