Zilingo raises $18M for its fashion e-commerce service in Southeast Asia

Jon Russell

Southeast Asia-based fashion marketplace Zilingo has closed an $18 million Series B funding round led by Sequoia Capital India and Burda Principal Investments.

Zilingo was founded less than two years ago by ex Sequoia analyst Ankiti Bose (CEO) and former Yahoo engineer Dhruv Kapoor (CTO). The basic vision is to help Southeast Asia's thriving independent fashion sellers and boutiques stores expand their businesses online.

The startup had existed largely under the radar until it raised $8 million around one year ago. This newest round includes participation from existing backers Venturra Capital, SIG, Beenext and Wavemaker, as well as new investors -- two angels -- Tim Draper and Manik Arora, ex IDG Ventures India head, via his family office fund.

This new funding is being put to work growing Zilingo's presence in Southeast Asia, and particularly Indonesia -- the region's largest economy. The startup said it has grown its revenue over 10-fold and added 5,000 new merchants during the past twelve months. It currently ships to eight countries, with seller hubs in Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Korea, Vietnam and Cambodia, with five company offices.

"A large part of this round is dedicated to growing in Indonesia," CEO Bose told TechCrunch in an interview. "There’s no other comparable fashion brand, so we probably have a window of about a year to make to big before others follow."

Zilingo expanded into Indonesia earlier this year after Bose relocated to Jakarta to learn more about the market. Some six months into operating there, she's impressed by the opportunities of the country.

"I’ve never seen a market that’s so ready to consume consumer internet products," she said. "We are seeing 85 percent growth each month, that's not something anyone has seen in other Southeast Asia markets. People spend a bit less on every transaction, but the behavior is crazy and they shop more times."

"We were initially really worried about logistics, because Indonesia is an archipelago, but it hasn't been that hard. If your expectations are correctly set, it’s a great market," the Zilingo CEO added.

Zilingo founders Ankiti Bose and Dhruv Kapoor

Aside from aiming to grow its share of the local market, Zilingo is also making moves overseas. It has just opened a B2B network that will allow fashion sellers in the U.S. and parts of Europe to purchase items direct from Zilingo at a competitive price for local resale.

"There’s demand for that supply outside of Southeast Asia," Bose said. "If you run a boutique in Europe or America, it's likely you are procuring products from Asia but there are a lot of middlemen."

For now though, the primary focus is Southeast Asia at this point.

Bose added that she's particularly excited to work with Burda, which has emerged as one of the few traditional Series B investors in Southeast Asia after hiring ex-GREE investor Albert Shyy to head up the region.

"These guys bring a whole new perspective on fashion and lifestyle," she said in reference to Burda's investment in Etsy and its global media portfolio, which includes brands such as Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, and InStyle.

"It seems only yesterday that Zilingo started with a seed round from Sequoia India and most of the team based out of the Sequoia incubation space in Bangalore. It is terrific to see how they have progressed towards building the leading fashion and lifestyle e-commerce company in Southeast Asia," said Shailendra Singh, managing director at Sequoia Capital India -- another Zilingo backer -- in a statement.