Ankiti Bose may be the CEO of one of Southeast Asia’s near-unicorn companies but the 28-year-old still battles a stigma that will probably be all too familiar to many women.
“If I go to a meeting with a male colleague, most people will automatically assume he’s the senior one, or that I’m the assistant. It’s not super easy to be a woman on the ground in the commerce or trade business,” says Bose, who launched Zilingo, a technology platform for the fashion industry, with co-founder Dhruv Kapoor in 2015, when she was just 23 years old. Still, she has not let this obstacle stop her from growing the company to its US$970 million valuation today—just $30 million short of the magic US$1 billion figure to be termed a unicorn. Its backers include US venture capital firm Sequoia Capital and Singapore state investment company Temasek Holdings.
Her secret, she says, is that instead of taking offence when she is mistaken for the underling, she chooses to focus on her goal of empowering the underdog through her work.
“Gender inequality is a systemic issue, so I think it is more important that we focus on making more women successful. When more people see women leading, this view will no longer be commonly perpetuated,” she told Tatler Singapore over a Zoom call from her home in Singapore during the country’s circuit breaker period to combat the spread of the coronavirus.