Meet the serial entrepreneur who started an AI-powered global ecommerce accelerator
Kolkata-born serial entrepreneur Somdutta Singh divides her time between India, the US, and Dubai. In this interview, she opens up about founding Assiduus Global Inc. and her plans to make the ecommerce accelerator into a billion-dollar business.
Somdutta Singh never wanted to follow suit; she aimed to carve out a profession of her liking. Born to doctor parents from Kolkata, the first-generation entrepreneur has launched several ventures over the years.
“Although I was born into an archetypal Bengali family, where I would have been expected to follow my doctor parents’ footsteps when it came to choosing a career path, I chose otherwise,” Somdutta tells HerStory.
She adds, “At a very early age, I had decided this was not the life and future I would want for myself. I wanted freedom of choice. I wanted to travel the world and have a better work-life balance. I was determined to break tradition and chase my dreams.”
Her latest startup,— an AI-powered cross-border ecommerce accelerator — helps direct-to-consumer (D2C) brands launch, scale, and grow across ecommerce marketplaces and geographies by enabling their digital commerce through end-to-end distribution and supply chain management.
In 2018, she started Assiduus after running a few D2C private labels, including Amplicell, The Real Boss Lady Beauty, Biotevia and Irotica, which she wanted to list on global marketplaces like Amazon and Walmart.
Elaborating on the challenges, Somdutta says, “It helped me understand the key challenges of growing a brand beyond certain geographies. There were challenges of regulations, integration, and language because each platform behaves differently across geographies and is compelled to follow local laws and regulations and rules on data security, etc.”
“I realised that cross-border was a huge challenge that people needed to sort, and selling online was not an easy task. There are multiple nuances attached to the process — understanding ranking, deciphering user data, analysing pricing, consumer behaviour, keyword, and listing automation,” she adds.
Through Assiduus, Somdutta focuses on brand centricity and cross-border driven on data and intelligence.
For example, Assiduus globally fulfils and manages any products from brands like Cipla, Bulletproof, Swiss Image, Strive, and Poorna Gummies bought online from geographies like Japan, the US, and GCC.
The Bengaluru-based startup is seed funded by BC Partners, Kratzel Partners, and other notable HNIs and has offices in Delaware in the US and Dubai as well.
Before Assiduus, the serial entrepreneur had launched several startups, including Unspun Group, an adtech firm in 2013 — her first startup.
“We used to leverage technology through meticulous research and simplified marketing techniques for startups, SMEs and enterprises to drive maximum RoI. Our market discovery tool’s algorithm crawled, analysed, and recommended the perfect marketing channels for business needs.”
She continues, “The technology helped us create profiles and analysed target customers’ behaviour across live data sources, scored their online activities, and recommended the right marketing channel needed to be put into place.”
A woman in the startup ecosystem
Over the years, Somdutta has added many feathers to her cap — by founding many startups, as a board member of several noted organisations, and as a member of the Forbes Business Council. However, she had to face gender-based bias across geographies to prove herself worthy.
“The challenges I faced as a young entrepreneur in a male-dominated and patriarchal industry were further heightened by the fact that I was wearing several hats with my multiple businesses, and each pole apart from the other,” she believes.
Further, she highlights the struggle women founders go through to raise funding.
Somdutta explains, “You are constantly looked at from a different perspective than men. I have encountered several instances where I have asked the question to male investors about how many women-run startups they’ve invested in, and the answer is most often negligible.”
“This goes to show that women entrepreneurship is an untamed bastion, and investors need to look at women in the same light as men. They need to look at women as gender agnostic and based on their skills and capabilities,” she adds.
Somdutta says that women entrepreneurs are constantly battling male egos and mental barriers, and the very idea of women going toe to toe with men may not always sit well.
To tackle the gender biases and patriarchal mindset of people, she advises women to tap into their core strengths — patience and perseverance — and develop a no-nonsense attitude towards biases.
“One of the key attributes of entrepreneurship is the ability to take a risk, not let the fear of the unknown bother you! Entrepreneurship is not about gender equality and leadership skills alone. It’s about the passion and the attitude with which a person pursues the dreams to achieve the unthinkable,” she adds.
By 2025, Somdutta aims to make Assiduus Global into a billion-dollar revenue-generating ecommerce accelerator partner.
She says, “We also want to set an example for women-led Asian born women ecommerce accelerators and become the most preferred partner for digital-first D2C brands, enterprise D2C brands, and roll-up brands looking to go global.”
Edited by Suman Singh