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It all began while on a trip to Bangkok, when Ankiti strolled around the well-known Chatuchak Market and realised that many of the merchants had plenty to offer and were hungry for growth but didn’t have the technology required to compete with global players. With the launch of Zilingo in 2015, Ankiti was able to bridge this gap.

She was then working at a major investment firm, McKinsey and Sequoia, while her current partner in business, Dhruv Kapoor, a software engineer was working at a gaming studio, Kiwi Inc. They quickly realised that they had complementary skills and similar ambitions to build their own start-up. Four months later, the two quit their jobs and used their savings to build Zilingo, an online platform that allows small merchants in Southeast Asia to scale their businesses.

“My stint with venture capital taught me to be bold with taking risks,” she continued. “I’ve also learned to not fear failure and to take it head on. That being said, there’s no ready formula for what makes a successful entrepreneur and leader. Much of what entrepreneurs know is learned on the ground, running a business day to day, because every start-up is a unique experience.

Hailing from Bangalore, the tech capital of India, Ankiti chose to plunge into the Southeast Asian market due to its high potential for internet and technology businesses. Smartphone penetration in Southeast Asia is much higher than India with 70-100 per cent of the population owning a device, depending on the country. GDP per capita is higher in key markets such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Singapore, and Malaysia.

“Women across the region have purchasing power; in these countries, a large percentage of women work, which is great for fashion and beauty, so we saw a huge market opportunity that we wanted to tap. Today, we operate globally across B2B and B2C businesses and we focus on markets that are either high potential consumer markets or excellent manufacturing hubs for fashion and beauty,” she explained.

Indonesia has been Zilingo’s biggest market to date, with the country experiencing a strong year on-year growth, allowing Zilingo to meet the demands of consumers with a plethora of products listed on its website. “With the #SiapaSihLo flag that we have carried proudly since we first entered Indonesia, we hope to empower our customers to be comfortable with themselves and to express themselves freely through fashion.”

This story appears in the August 2019 issue of Indonesia Tatler. For the full story, grab the copy at your nearest newsstand, or subscribe here.

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