On the show today, we have Ankiti Bose, the founder and CEO of Zilingo, one of the largest fashion & lifestyle marketplaces in Southeast Asia. According to Bloomberg, the latest financing valued Zilingo is at $970 million. Ankiti is among the youngest female chief executives to lead a multi-million-dollar startup in Asia.
Ankiti reveals how she thinks about the nature of Zilingo’s business, the growth drivers of a 12x track in a short span of 4 years, being a first-time entrepreneur at 23, building localized teams in different countries and the staples in her wardrobe.
Prior to launching Zilingo, Ankiti worked at McKinsey as a management consultant and Sequoia as an investment analyst. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai.
Hans: First of all, help us understand how Zilingo works. Who are your main customers? And how do you work with them? What value do you provide for them?
Ankiti: So fashion apparel is a 4% of the global GDP. It’s a huge industry, almost a $3 trillion industry. And the way the industry works is that we are all wearing clothes in this room, it is very likely that you’re short cross borders to get to you. So the fabric probably came from China or India, if it’s cotton, if it’s polyester, viscose, probably China. Then it went over the trims came from, let’s say, India, I went to a factory in Vietnam, and it got woven a stitch there. And it went to the brand that you sold from Italy, and then maybe you bought it in New York, but it’s very likely that many of these steps actually the place. So it’s a large industry. It’s a very fundamentally cross border industry. Despite that, there is no Foxconn in it. There’s nobody setting the standards of manufacturing in this industry. And there’s also no SAP or Oracle, which is setting across the supply chain. So suddenly, what you have is you have one of the largest industries in the world. It’s fundamentally cross border. But it is filled with middlemen and intermediaries and people who are taking away more value than they’re adding across the supply chain. So what do you have is a large supply chain rot with a lot of middlemen. What Zilingo does is we’re an end to end cloud platform that connects right from the guy that makes the yarn, the fabric guy, the manufacturer to the brand, enabling them to do commerce with each other better, allowing them a tech platform, which also sort of provides analytics and financial services on top of that to efficiently take care of all of their business.
Rita: If I am a designer or apparel merchant in the Southeast Asia and I wanted to sell my clothes, how can Zilingo help me?
Ankiti: Let’s say you’re a merchant in Southeast Asia, let’s say you’re a merchant anywhere. Your problems are, of course, your problems are how do I sell more? But more importantly, it’s, you know, how do I source better? How do I get financing for that sourcing? How do I make sure that I get the best pricing on that sourcing? How do I get the best cost of logistics for shipping my goods? How do I get the best payment processing costs? Because as a small merchant, or even as a medium sized merchant, maybe you sell hundred products, maybe you sell thousand products, maybe you sell 10,000 products. But are you as big as Zara, are you as big as H&M, there is no way that just by yourself your economics would be competitive or even it can be compared to a large conglomerate? That’s where Zilingo comes in. Zilingo says Hey, little merchants, brand SME, whoever you are, you are the center of creative thought. You are the one who’s deciding what you want to make. Let us take care of everything. Let us come in and connect you with the guys that will manufacture your product, best to the capabilities that you require. Let us finance your working capital needs for it, let us give you logistics at the rates that large conglomerates would have. Let us give you payment processing options that you as a small brand can never have. And the reasons Zilingo is able to provide these at very competitive rates to a small merchant is because we are aggregating this across hundreds of thousands of merchants. So suddenly, each merchant has a very competitive economics as competitive or at least comparable to the large conglomerates, because the power of unifying them and aggregating them is being brought to them by single.
Rita: You’re saying if there’s five different small merchants who wants to sell and source and then you can help them achieve that scale effect and negotiate better deals, but what if their styles aren’t the same? I mean, isn’t that the nature of smaller brand?
Ankiti: Absolutely, the styles don’t have to be the same. The way of fashion works is that usually when you’re talking about sourcing from factories, there are a few different types of products that are other than knits or wovens, maybe there are denims, there are polyester, there are cotton, and so on and so forth. What we do is we tie up with over 4000 factories that are on our platform, many of them are our cloud factories, similar concept to cloud kitchen where we have leased facilities where we bring in our technology hardware and software and increase the capacity utilization. And then as long as it’s within some boundaries of these are units are these are wovens, or these are denims. We can negotiate with the suppliers on behalf of multiple manufacturers and we sometimes given mentary guarantees, sometimes it’s on demand, but essentially the rates are net net significantly better at least 30 to 40% better than what they would do if they were small brands that were trying to negotiate directly with factories themselves.
Hans: So you were investment analyst at Sequio, you start off in India and then went to Singapore. It’s a great job that many people will want. Why do this? And how did you come up with the idea to do this?
Ankiti: That is true. I think working at Sequoia Capital and working with venture capital was a dream. There was a, I think the best job that I could have ever asked for.
Hans: Also working at GGV, of course.
Ankiti: Yes, yes, I’m sure. Absolutely. And I think had I not started out on my own, that would have been, that would have been the job that I would have loved to continue to do, if they would have had if they would have me. But when I was as I was spending a lot of time working for Sequoia and working in Southeast Asia and in India, this was in 2014. So Southeast Asia didn’t yet have any unicorns. And a lot of though there are so many now but they were all babies. Then what does this insane potential? And, you know, you could feel that crazy things were about to happen in Southeast Asia. I had seen that happen in India, of course in India, we had gone through a little bit of ups and downs, and then some serious downs and some insane ups. So I was mentally prepared for that. But it seemed like Southeast Asia was such a great opportunity. The end of 2014, I was on holiday in Thailand, with a few of my friends who were ex-colleagues from McKinsey. And we were this market called Chatuchak. This was while I was working at Sequoia Capital, so Chatuchak market has over 25,000 merchants, and about 8000 of them are broadly in the fashion space of fashion accessories bags like that. And people were crazy about it, right. So it’s a weekend market. It’s not even there every day, people would fly down from Singapore from Hong Kong every region just shop in Bangkok and go back. And these merchants were really good at what they did. But they had zero sense of how to digitize their business. So while you know back then there was of course, there was a Lazada and a few other marketplaces were coming up. These guys didn’t have any tools to actually do anything besides list on online b2c marketplaces. And fundamentals of the economics were such that no matter what you do, unless you made the margins better for this guy, there was no way you could make money in e-commerce, right? Because the margins are already so thin. Exactly. So we said here’s something else is going on. Right? So some somewhere the margins are getting, you know, squeezed out before the product even gets on the marketplaces. So something else is going on, especially in categories like fashion where people perceive it to be a high margin category. How can you still burn money on b2c commerce even in categories where there’s so much margins, so that’s when we started looking back and looking more and more upstream and trying to understand where the merchants are resourcing from why they were not going directly to factories, you know why their quantities were not, you know, their minimum quantities were so small factories, were not doing it. So then there were agents and distributors, and we said, okay, this whole thing is so old school that should fix this. And that sort of led to the inception of everything else that we built in the future.
Hans: You have a choice to do this in Singapore or Bangalore. Why did you choose Singapore? You have option of Singapore, Bangalore and Jakarta. I guess.
Ankiti: That’s right. Going back to what I said before, fashion is very across borders. So we knew that we needed a company that would be able to scale Asia, if not globally, back then maybe we were thinking by Asia. Now we’re thinking of course, including the US, where now so many of our customers are and Singapore made a lot of strategic sense. It’s a great country, very supportive regulations and and so on and so forth. And both from an investment standpoint as well as partnerships, as well as everything else, it makes sense to have the parent company headquartered in Singapore. And then having entities in countries like Thailand and Indonesia and Bangladesh where sourcing can happen. Having entities in countries like India and Vietnam, where the back could be based. Having entity in Hong Kong so that, you know, supply gaps from China can be filled. So we thought of all of that, yes, we didn’t know exactly how it would come out, but it made sense that the parent would be in Singapore, and then all of these baby companies would serve different purposes.
Rita: You have quite a global customer base with local tastes and have a variety of strong local competitors as well. How do you go about localizing the business and talent while building something that applies to other geographies?
Ankiti: That’s a very, very true statement that people say the phrase Southeast Asia or people say South Asia, like it means something. And I really think it is western construct because within Southeast Asia, if you think about Indonesia, and Thailand and Philippines and Singapore, they really don’t have so much in common with one another. The language, the culture, the food, the currency, everything is different. They are not trading with one another or even inside their countries in English or in Chinese. So they’re fundamentally independent cultures and economies. Again, if you look at South Asia, you look at India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, you know, maybe language barriers are a little fewer, but they’re completely different from one another like federal government regulation standpoint and everything. So, painting these regions with one brush, and you know, bucketing them into one phrases is a very western construct. And what that implies, like you said is that the product, the business, the trade, the culture and offices is super, super different, right? So from a product standpoint, and from a business standpoint, We make sure is that each large country, each large team is led by a local leader who was sort of a local founder, who has completely decentralized decision making powers to run that country. So we have strong leaders in each of these countries who understand the product and the team and the culture over there. Because you know, we have 15 nationalities in Zilingo for our team and, you know, customers in eight countries, but we’re 15 nationalities. So everybody is very different from one another. We are 50% female team, but even within that there’s so much diversity. You know, there are white women, they’re Muslim women, they’re Indian women, they’re all sorts of different ethnicities, religions, cultures and the only way the best way to make it work is to have these subcultures be independent, and then tie them together with common values. So I think it’s a very interesting and very challenging thing, but we try to address it by letting everybody Independence remain and let everybody’s individuality remain.
Hans: How did you assemble those local teams in the first place?
Ankiti: It was fun. It’s great fun, I think Indonesia, which is our largest office, the team that started Indonesia, there was sort of like a bridge team, the bridge between India, Singapore and Indonesia. And then they hired the local, you know, co-founders of Zilingo Indonesia, who then build up their team, and then they hire more people, and so on and so forth. So it was a very localized approach to team building, it wasn’t that what we have come from India or the Delhi or Singapore. Now, these are the rules and we will tell you how to run this. We were like you know Indonesia the best. So, these are the things these are the guiding principles. These are the goals and these are the values but let’s make it applicable to Indonesia. And I think that’s why it worked, and I’ve seen many companies were not doing that and not respecting the variety of a culture has actually led to failure. We really appreciate that all of these cultures are super different. And we need local strong founders and each of these.
Rita: What is that mentality comes from? Because I would imagine for many other founders, they would like to have a sense of control across different regions. Why do you have that?
Ankiti: I think I don’t feel us lack of control. From this, in fact, if anything, I feel like having, I think most people at Zilingo, irrespective of which country in which team they work at, have a strong sense of belonging to their workplace. So it’s like, you know, they’re working 18 hours a day. It’s like, it’s majority of their life. It’s not a part of their life. There’s no work life balance, it’s like, you know.
It’s at least 996 and, and therefore, it’s, it’s a big part of their life. So they have to have a strong sense of belonging to where they are and that gives a lot of sort of sense of unity and loyalty to the common vision and common purpose. And that actually makes me feel like we’re much more in control because people are happy and people want to do this. And that comes from respecting their individuality. So if this was much more top down in terms of governance, I feel like there would be more discontent because people are so different like, we have a team in New York and we have a team in Jakarta, in Bangkok. And we have a team in Bangalore. Outside of Zilingo there’s not a lot in common. So you have to let that individuality flourish and give them like local leaders they can look up to and relate to, and then sort of tie in together with common goals, KPI or OKR values, rather than sort of force it top down. But I think it also helps that, you know, our leadership is 50% female. So it’s very, it’s like non-threatening in a way. That’s how people that’s how we’re all human brains of bias. There’s some good things about it. There’s some bad things that come out of biases, but I think people relate to a diverse both from a gender and ethnicity standpoint to diverse leadership. people relate to it more easily. So it’s not like there’s a foreign construct of rules and KPIs, and we have to somehow follow it. It’s not like that at all.
Hans: How does you recruit local leaders?
Ankiti: I think in most of the countries, we call them founders. They were all found by us, like we call call them, email them message them, they were all like a different company. He’s at like Lazada. And they didn’t come through recruiters or you know, investors or any of that. Not that we didn’t try those other methods. But I think all the guys who finally are in the top team now were all people that either we knew, or we just sort of hounded and cold call. We spent a lot of time with, I think of like this, I think this way about hiring senior team about investing, getting investors on board, as I always say, to others that date, date, date before you marry. So we’ve spent a lot of time. Whoever it is, if you’re going to be, you know, related to one another with equity and with your time and with your life, then be sure of it. Spend time trying to getting to know each other, and you’re working styles, and so on and so forth. So we’ve done that with all of these people before we made, took the plunge. And it worked out.
Hans: When you look at your business, do you think of in terms of b2b and b2c? How do you think about sort of where you expand to and what value you provide?
Ankiti: Yeah, we’re definitely a b2b company in the sense that our purpose is to solve the merchant. And in some cases, the merchant is the yarn guy. In some cases, the merchant is a fabric guy, sometimes it’s a factory, but we are an end to end platform that serves use cases around merchant. So we are to be platform when we say think of the customer, we’re thinking about merchant, we do have to see marketplace business in Southeast Asia. It’s a very small part of our business. It’s an additional distribution channel in markets where our merchants don’t have adequate distribution channels to distribute fashion. But you know, for example, our to see marketplaces, not something that we operate in the US or in India or any of these spaces, but our merchants do distribute their products in those markets using our software, but on other marketplaces.
Hans: So when you were first building your business, did you come in thinking that it’s going to be more b2b focused, or it kind of tried the bit of different things and realized that this is where the most value is being generated?
Ankiti: I think we tried a bunch of different things. And, you know, I don’t like the word pivot. I like to say, evolution, evolve, so what we as we were spending more and more time with merchants, we realize that number of problems that you can solve for them and you know even make money out of solving those problems versus using all of your VC capital to chase the 2c customer and inundate them with discounts which already so many other people are doing. We took a sort of hard look at ourselves and we said, you know what, let’s do the it’s a slightly tougher problem. But the 2B problem seems to be the one where there is a lot of value to be created and not a lot of capitalist chasing it. I’m really glad that now I feel like people have woken up to the 2B opportunit. But two years ago, it was a little bit of a, you know, why you doing that? It’s not sexy, and so on and so forth. But I think we did the right thing and when I feel like we generate a lot of value for the merchants and our business as well.
Hans: As you know, successful examples from US and then China were mostly 2C. So it’s easy to replicate a model to other places. But given where especially India is with the GDP per capita? B2b makes so much more sense so much value to provide us so many more merchants. The market is so fragmented that it is we’re seeing a pattern emerging.
Ankiti: Yes, I’m so I actually wanted to ask you about this particular b2c versus b2b because in China the problem I would say like 20 years ago, it’s pretty similar. There’s like small merchant doing their own thing. So there is in fact a b2b that Alibaba solve. But it was too early. There’s not enough transaction services possible and not enough people were online so it was to be back then was just more about ads listing kind of business. These days you start to see more b2b e commerce emerging but 2C was so strong, that many of them whose integrate upwards. India is different. So building b2b now makes perfect sense for India and Southeast Asia.
Rita: I see. So Ankiti, growing up India you actually moved around quite a bit, does that even affect you how you run your business today?
Ankiti: For sure. So, I was born in Mumbai. Then I grew up in very remote part of Northeast India called Tripura which is very close to Bangladesh. Then I moved to the home which is in the north of India, again very small city, move back to Mumbai, my parents were in New Delhi, I continue to study in Mumbai. Then once I started working, and then, you know, move from McKinsey then to Sequoia and then Zilingo the last five years I’ve stayed in Bombay, Bangalore, Jakarta, Bangkok and Singapore. And I’m spending a lot of time in New York. So I think somewhere even as a child, getting uprooted and get going to a new environment. I’m trying to be sort of not just fascinated, but looking at the opportunities and new environments was became normal at age of six months old. And then by age 3, it happened again, right seven again, it didn’t happen. So I think it was normalized as a child, and I also am somebody who does get bored and saturated quite quickly so I need to move around a little bit and find new things and opportunity to chas which is exciting and which helps me at work coming back to what you said either because I’m paranoid that you know I was 23 minutes when I started Ziliongo. I get paranoid that there’s another 23 year old who’s gonna probably figure out how to better than us and you know, do it so much better than us. So I’m constantly trying to be that 23 year old and look at opportunities from different business lens and geography balances and so on.
Rita: This is your first startup. And it has grown 12 times since its founding. It’s a pretty impressive track record. Can you share with us like what are some of the key drivers of this growth?
Ankiti: I think the first sort of inception of the idea came from the fact that businesses in Southeast Asia and Asia in general, can’t be painted with one brush. Unlike India or China, the rest of Asia is actually super fragmented. So at first, the first spot of growth started when we started addressing and treating each market and each product and each business like its own being. Then the second spot of growth happened when we took a hard look at ourselves and said, let’s focus on the 2B opportunity. Let’s focus on the merchant instead of spending money on subsidies to onboard more customers because everybody’s already doing that. And more merchants are selling online. But let’s help them sell online better with technology with data science with financial services and sourcing. Let’s just focus on providing these four services to them. And then the next and I think the biggest sort of the steepest growth have happened in our lives about two years ago when we realized that providing free technology and providing procurement is all great and people wanted providing data science in terms of what they should source etc is great. But what is the main missing link and sort of the enabler to all of this is financial services. So we said we need to learn how to be a good FinTech company, right, if we want to be a good fashion company. And that’s because most of these merchants in most of these countries were in the, you know, some of them could be laymen, but many of them could be great businesses, but there was no credit score, there was no history, there was no tracking of who they were sourcing from who they were selling to. So let’s say a bank wants to fund them, but they can’t. So we realize that as the platform that could see who was buying what from whom, and then selling it forward to who, even though the guy doesn’t know like a yarn guy doesn’t know that his yarn finally became the shirt that you’re wearing. But if you bought it from a credible brand, then the yarn guy should be able to get financial services because he’s a good yarn guy, but even he doesn’t know if he’s a good enough yarn guy and definitely the banks don’t know it. Yes. So we said this is obviously the not just the biggest enabler and biggest lubricant of growth, this is also the big mode of our business. So let’s focus on this and then when we did that, and we learned how to be a good financial services enabler, that’s when the crazy 12 x growth happen that you that you’re talking about. And I think the reason all of this has happened is because I always say mission, vision, etc, keeps on changing. Values can also evolve over time. We should all take ourselves less seriously and look at what’s happening in the market and evolve with it. Otherwise, somebody else some 23 year old is going to be. So let’s like always have an open mind in terms of what we do. And of course, I receive a lot of flack for it as well. People question it all the time and be encouraged that dissent like why did you choose this? You said we will do this last year. Why are you changing? And now the answer is to be competitive and to be a valuable company, we have to change our outlook. And that’s okay.
Hans: As you grow so fast, who do you try to learn from or look up to? Or how do you find source of inspiration to guide you to make decisions?
I think obviously, it sounds cliche to name, both Alibaba and Amazon. But I’ll be more specific as to why I would again say that those two companies are quite critical in our story as well. Alibaba, like you said 2B and then monetize with marketing services in a much less mature to be e-commerce market when they did it. But they brought things like marketing as a service as monetization tool for the first time in the world. So that is very exciting to us, because it tells us that creating an ecosystem of services on top of a platform is a serious monetization strategy. It can even be the only one. It worked for them. The other thing and the thing we learn from Amazon and from AWS and from the plethora of things that Amazon does is how to really be a multipronged company that does so many things that creates so much dependence across the whole platform and ecosystem, that you become a company that is incredibly hard to kill. How do you attack Amazon? It’s it’s impossible. It’s very difficult.
But it’s like, what you do with AWS and the kind of dependence it creates? Or what would you do with different aspects of different retail businesses that they own both offline now and online? It’s incredible to think that big and as a platform and think of, the core commerce business, as serving only one part of the mission and having other businesses create dependence across customers and businesses. So it’s an incredible learning experience for us to see how Amazon and Alibaba evolved over time talked about financial services, talked about software as a service over time, and how that is actually solved the core purpose? And we love to look at that and learn from it.
Hans: So how is Zilingo organized today?
Ankiti: There’s obviously the core commerce business, which connects businesses, the fabric guy, the yarn
guy, the factories and the brands, and allows them to trade with one another. Then there are the services which are which uses the data and the invoices from the transaction business, to use that to deploy financial services, marketing services, packaging services, we do 36 of those. So you name it, like you maybe you’re a factory and you don’t have any catalog, we could do something like that. So maybe you’re a factory and you want, you will be to lend to you. So even that would be enabled with the data. And then of course, there are higher value added services like data analytics, for example, what should I source? How do I manage my inventory? Watch theri stock? So does the entire services business of which financial services the one that requires a separate structure of its own because it is both originating loans and advances for financial institutions as well as giving out credit on its own from Zilingo. So that’s how the businesses geographically of course, there’s Asia and now this, the US Zilingo in.
Rita: How standardize or productize all these 36 services you have?
Ankiti: They’re pretty standardized across the board because they need to be deployed to thousands of businesses simultaneously. However, for a lot of our big customers, you know, we recently started working with Disney across Disney, Disney live action, Marvel Star Wars etc. They’re wonderful brands, and they’re very different from a typical merchant. Zilingo was much smaller, but for them for example, we will do bespoke services and bespoke procurement, etc. So we do make exceptions for really large brands that we work with but most of the services are quite standardized because a guy that’s making hundred units and maybe 100 units at a time $100,000 in a whole year is also capable of using the lingo. Yeah. So we will not do bespoke for them. But it would be a very standardized.
Rita: But you have merchant from so many different countries. You localize in for every single country for forensic services.
Ankiti: Definitely. So already six services not available everywhere, but the language currency and the cross-border nature and forex settlement payments, logistics, etc, requires deep localization. And that is localized for every country. For example, if you talk about logistics, because we do everything through third party API’s, we essentially let b2b services integrate on top of our b2b platform. So it let’s say a product is moving from Thailand to Indonesia. Likely three or four logistics companies are involved with that and payments companies are involved. But let’s say something like one of our most coveted services or factories is ERP like resource planning and production planning. And there, what we do is we invite b2b SaaS companies that are otherwise too expensive for these businesses to use to build apps on top of our b2b platform and deploy ERP across our factories.
I mean, it’s not possible 20 years ago, when Alibaba.com started, there’s no open API. There’s no SaaS, there’s no cloud. You can do other stuff. You are what Alibaba.com should have been could have been if they stay in the business and become more international and recruit people from different parts of the world, not just from China to build it, but now you’re doing it.
Rita: Anything you want to say about you being one of the youngest female entrepreneur from India?
Ankiti: This matters to me, it’s important. I think representation is an important thing. When I always say this, that all my role models and mentors have been men. And I think that’s great because men make wonderful allies and what I hope we achieve in another generation is that just we have more representation, more people of color, more women in tech and so forth. So that more people can relate to the leaders and feel like they can do it too. And I think it’s happening, but it’s going to take some time and some doing.
Hans: Yeah, we make a conscious effort if we can, where we can have more women guests on the show. It’s just nice to be done. So you have team from so many different countries emerging from different countries. How do you organize either team building activities, or merchant sharing activities in order to get people to share best practices and learn from one another and and build a more cohesive community?
Ankiti: I think it within each other level of country. There’s a lot of strong sense of community whether it’s the team or the merchants, etc. And across country we do we make sure that every quarter people share both stories as well as success stories and stories of failure with one another what they learned what they could have done better and seek help actively. I think we really try to encourage both failure as well as seeking help. Because our industry is changing so fast, there are very few comparables that we have, really. So we have to really learn from our mistakes fast. So we encourage failure. And then we say, hey, share your failure with everybody else in all the other countries and teams. So they know that and then they hopefully make their own mistakes and not repeat yours. And it’s a very supportive community. We tried to build that I think we should do. I always feel like you can always do more of us. So we’re trying to figure that out. We recently engaged in coaches and mentors for the top hundred leaders. We have 600 people in the company. So for the top hundred across geographies. We’re investing in coaches because a lot of the young leaders who are breaking things are in their late 20s early 30s. Many of them are first or second times managers, but they are great. So I feel like it’s my job to make sure they have their best equipped to do their job. So we’re doing a bunch of things like that to make all of this, facilitate all of this.
Rita: Do you have a coach yourself?
Hans: With your coach, what were the most useful advice that you have received?
Ankiti: I think most of the time, he helps me take a step back and detach from the situation. And what I’ve learned, I think it’s both the most useful advice and the most insightful thing have learned when you’re detached from the situation you likely solve it better, you’re less emotional. And as a founder, and as a young founder, you’re always very involved and very, very emotional about the outcome, which also is a good thing because you care about it so much. But every now and then taking that step back and having some having a professional help you take a step back and rationalize all of the things that are happening is actually immensely helpful. It prevents taking any radical decisions acting out. I think a lot of founders are very stressed. We’re are all very stressed all the time. I think it helps to have somebody ground you and make mature decisions in all times. So I think it’s very useful to have a health coach.
Rita: Do you have a favorite failure, so to speak?
Ankiti: Yes, I do. I do. It’s a bit of a long story, but I’ll keep it brief. A few years ago, we realized that we should, because we’re doing end to end supply chain, we should also have our own private labels. And we fail at it so hard. We learned all of the challenges that other brands go through because of it like sourcing and this and that. You really can’t solve problems that you can’t feel. So we failed it. But we failed again, and we failed again, and then we failed again. And then finally, you know, we realized that me, my co-founder, my founding team, the DNA was super tech and it was not fashion. And we realized that was the mistake that we were not thinking about fashion as as much and we needed to change the DNA of the team itself. So we went hardcore and got guys that understood tech packs and manufacturing and fashion and design and teach us that and just build that out completely. And then that sort of thought as a very important lesson. I think the takeaway from that is that if you see an opportunity and you failed at it, you shouldn’t give up you should think about why you’re failing. Maybe you’re not the right person to do it. But it’s still an opportunity you want to change then you should get the right people and help you exactly. Get help.
Rita: Let’s jump into the last part of the podcast, which is the round of quickfire questions. Just say the thing that comes to your mind first.
Rita: First question is, what are the staples in your wardrobe?
Ankiti: Pair of jeans, ripped jeans, black T-shirt, and heels and white shirt.
Rita: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about what you wear every day?
Ankiti: Maybe 10 minutes?
Rita: What’s something that you read recently that you would recommend?
Ankiti: I’m reading becoming by Michelle Obama. It’s super, like fascinating and fun.
Rita: How so?
Ankiti: So I thought that, like most books about your own life and experience, they tend to be a little boring, but slightly pedantic in the set, or this happened and this happened, this is what I learned. But I’m just like, I haven’t finished it. But we know her life story, but it is so interesting. It’s not a boring story at all. I think her challenges and I can really relate to it.
Rita: What’s the habit that you have had you think that have changed your life?
Ankiti: I think just persistence. If I believe in it, I go for it and keep going for it and very stubborn about it. And the other one is, it’s gonna sound funny, but I have a very thick skin, right? Like as a young woman in text. It’s very important. You gotta be affected by people dissing at us. So I think that might have been the most important.
Rita: What do you do when you’re stressed?
Ankiti: So I watch a lot of Netflix. Sort of helps me. The bad thing is that it’s significantly reduced reading time and sleeping time because I’m just doing that. But it really helps to take the edge off.
Rita: What are your top three shows?
Ankiti: Black Mirror. Narcos, and Fargo. I don’t know if you saw it so super, super scary. And I really like Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj. And not on Netflix, but I love John Oliver, Trevor Noah that entire bunch. It really takes the edge off.
Rita: All right. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Ankiti: Thank you for having me. Thank you. This is great fun. Thank you.
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