Fashion marketplace Zilingo bullish about fintech play, offline retail

Zilingo co-founder and CEO, Ankiti Bose. Photo: Zilingo

Singapore-headquartered fashion marketplace Zilingo might look to establish its own financial services arm to offer services such as loans and payments to its merchants, its co-founder and CEO Ankiti Bose, said in an interaction.

“We’re already extending financial services to our merchants through third parties – both loans and payment services. In the long term, yes, we might want to develop some of these services in-house,” said Bose in an email interaction with DEALSTREETASIA.

This portal had reported that Zilingo is in talks with its existing investors to raise close to $80 million for its Series D, which could value the startup at over $500 million. Bose declined to comment.

While e-commerce is all the rage, some industry players have been investing their capital into brick-and-mortar/offline retail, including JD.com-backed Pomelo and Singapore-based Love Bonito. Bose noted the shift from online to offline, where businesses are diversifying their presence through omni-channel.

“Retail is definitely evolving from exclusively online or exclusively offline to an omni-channel space where online and offline retail both need to be equally significant and present. We are very positive about offline as well!” she said.

The meteoric rise of Zilingo, which has raised a total of $82 million in the past three years, has surprised the regional startup ecosystem. Following an $18 million Series B last September, the startup announced its $52 million Series C this April to double down on Zilingo’s growth.

Bose, a former analyst with McKinsey & Co and Sequoia Capital India, founded Zilingo in Bangkok in May 2015, along with Dhruv Kapoor, who is also the startup’s chief technology officer. The startup started off as a seller management platform to give online presence to small, offline merchants.

It now serves over 20,000 merchants and retailers across B2B and B2C segments across Southeast Asia, with more than half of Zilingo’s business coming from its B2B operations, said Bose. This April, the startup launched Zilingo Asia Mall (ZAM), an extension of its B2B  segment, to the US and Europe.

“If Amazon is the ‘Everything Store’ then our ZAM B2B platform is the ‘Everything Manufacturer,’ using technology to make an industry that’s traditionally very friction-ridden into one that’s more accessible than it ever has been to Western fashion markets,” said Bose during the launch of ZAM in April.

Could Zilingo maintain its growth momentum and emerge as another unicorn in Southeast Asia? If the Series D goes through, it may well be.

Edited excerpts:

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In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

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  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.