Ankiti Bose: India’s First Billion-dollar Boss Lady

July 10 - Sarah Ashlock

FIRST THOUGHT: Asian Adventure

Y’all know I love fun facts about destinations. Today, we’re talking about Southeast Asia, so I thought I’d share some interesting trivia about India. It’s the country with the most post offices in the world and also has the highest post office. A village called Mawsynram gets the most rainfall in the world. Speaking of water, India is where shampoo began as a blend of herbs. “Shampoo” in Sanskrit means “massage.”

That leads me to the cutest fact of them all: India has a spa just for elephants. It’s connected to a temple and can house nearly 60 elephants, providing a host of spa services like massages. If you’re having a bad day, check out these 12,000-pound dudes getting their chill on.


India’s full of companies, but some are about as active as a relaxed elephant at the spa. In fact, only 66 percent of companies registered there are active. There are a few reasons for this discrepancy. A big explanation is that they’re “shell” companies. Though this term has connotations of illegality, that isn’t always the case; these inactive businesses burden the system and add nothing to India’s economy. The country has created a task force to examine inactive companies for foreign income and assets.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Ankiti Bose, Co-founder & CEO of Zilingo

Ankiti Bose is definitely part of that portion of active business owners. She’s India’s first woman to co-found a billion-dollar biz. It all started before Ankiti turned 24: She quit her job at a venture capital firm and spent four years building a fashion startup and e-commerce site called Zilingo with her co-founder.

Ankiti may have been young, but she was experienced in the tech space. She worked as a management consultant and investment analyst. Those days seeing the ebb and flow of business ownership and wealth management helped Ankiti fully realize her vision. That, and a shopping trip, of course.

During a vacation with colleagues in Thailand, Ankiti visited one of the largest markets in the world. Thousands of stalls and merchants led her to think that the products should be sold online. There was no digital infrastructure that could host such a mammoth idea; that is, until Ankiti got to work creating one.

Zilingo now has more than 7 million users. Merchants can sign up and list their products. The difference between Zilingo and many other e-commerce sites is that the merchants are vetted for pricing and other metrics, as well as authenticity. If approved, merchants receive perks like insurance and financing.

There’s a lot to learn from Ankiti. One of those lessons is to put yourself out there. She met her co-founder at a party. After hearing him talk about backend engineering and analysis, Ankiti told him her idea.

Eighteen-hour days and years later, her outgoing move was clearly a smart one. She developed adoration for other cultures and for what she experienced as a kid. Her dad was an engineer and moved the family around a lot.

As a kid, Ankiti would also collect items from around the house and set up a pretend shop. Now, as one of the world’s most successful women, Ankiti proves that your dreams don’t have to just be pretend.


Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Wangari Maathai said:

"Finally I was able to see that if I had a contribution I wanted to make, I must do it, despite what others said. That I was OK the way I was. That it was all right to be strong."

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