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Meet the awesome trio of Carousell

November 11, 2017

EasyUni Staff

1. How did you come up with the idea of Carousell and its business model? 

Siu Rui: Marcus, Lucas, and I spent a year in Silicon Valley, interning at tech companies and taking classes at Stanford. It was then that we fell in love with technology after witnessing just how powerful it can be, and realizing that technology had the potential to solve problems for people on a global scale.

Marcus: The inspiration for Carousell came about when we got back to Singapore and wanted to sell our pre-loved items. The problem was that at that time, existing C2C marketplaces (forums etc.) were not that user-friendly, required a lot of steps to list items for sale, and were also not very inspiring to browse on. We realised that selling should be made a lot easier and more accessible for everyone.

Lucas: With the rising popularity of smartphones, and as everyone started spending a lot of time on their smartphones, we set out on their mission to “make selling as easy as taking a photo”. If you can take a photo and send a text message with your smartphone, you essentially know how to sell on Carousell. And that’s what we started to work towards.


2. May we know how many employees you had when you started? Currently, how many employees do you have? And how many offices?

Siu Rui: When we started, it was only the 3 co-founders! Today, we have about 30 full-time team members and about 10 part-timers/interns. Majority of the team operates out of Carousell HQ in Singapore, but we do have a few team mates based out of our other markets - Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia.


3. What is the single hardest thing about running a company? And what's the coolest thing?

Lucas: The hardest part at the start was that Siu Rui and Marcus were both business majors, so they both had to pick up design and product management on their own. I was still in my final year at NUS at that time and I had to learn iOS programming to build the very first version of  Carousell for iPhone. It was an iterative process with a lot of failed attempts before we finally succeeded.    

Marcus: As for the coolest part… It’s actually difficult to pinpoint a single thing! There are quite a few cool parts we can share. We’re all pretty chilled out here, no strict dress codes… you can even come to work in your pyjamas if you wish to!

Our office has been designed to feel like home, so we have a gaming console, a TV, and a nice big sofa to hang out at and for use as collaboration spaces. Our office is pet-friendly too! It’s been really fun having fur kids visiting and interacting with everyone!

Siu Rui: But most importantly, it’s a family-like environment where the only thing that matters is that we're all working towards a common mission. 


4. Currently, there are many online sites for buyers and sellers, what considerations you had to undergo before starting Carousell

Siu Rui: Back in 2012, online sites for buyers and sellers mainly consisted of forums and traditional sites that were not user-friendly — It was tedious and time-consuming to list items for sale. We felt that existing marketplaces were stuck in the 90s, and that selling on platforms like forums and web classifieds was uninspiring and troublesome.


5. To beat the competition, what does Carousell have to offer? 

Siu Rui: Our strategy is always to keep our heads down and continue improving our product to serve our community because our community has in turn helped us out through the power of word-of-mouth which greatly contributed to our growth in Singapore, and we’re very thankful to our community for their support.


6. We're assuming that most of your users are either students/young professionals. What do you thinks makes Carousell a hit among youngsters? (You can talk about the school marketplace?

Marcus: Within campuses, there’s a constant stream of buying and selling of textbooks and course materials as the school year progresses. With campus marketplace, students can buy and sell their items knowing that they’re dealing with fellow students from their school, and there’s a higher chance that student will find materials that are likely to be more relevant for their courses. It’s also about creating communities for every school where students know they’ll be amongst familiar people whom they’ll have something in common with, which gives them a peace of mind when meeting up with a buyer or seller.


7. To be successful in business, what do you think are the 3 essential traits an entrepreneur should have? 

Marcus: #1 - Focus on solving problems that you personally care and are passionate about.

Siu Rui: #2 - Be willing use the cheapest and most scrappy ways to spread the word out for your product in the early days.

Lucas: #3 - Focus on the core values of your product and be willing to work really hard for your ideas to succeed.


8. What's your advice to students who have great ideas but no money to start a business?

Marcus: If your product or idea is not getting good response immediately or within 6 months, don’t give up! Keep trying and keep finding ways to improve your product.  It wasn’t clear early on if Carousell was going to work. There were certainly doubts. We were walking back to the office one evening after dinner, three months after we launched, and we realised that we only had 7 sign-ups that day.

But as of January 2014, we have been and still are the #1 lifestyle and shopping app in Singapore, with more than 26 million listings on our platform to date. We are now in 4 markets - Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan. We just launched Taiwan in December 2014, and it’s now our fastest-growing market! We just might end 2015 with Taiwan being our largest market. Our next focus is to bring Carousell to even more parts of the world.  


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