Entrepreneur

8 Quickfire Facts About Carousell's Journey - Past, Present And Future

Carousell is one of Singapore’s greatest successes, but did you know that they wasn’t meant to be a startup in the first place?

Here are some interesting facts about them that you never knew.

1. Carousell Was Born From Personal Needs

When Lucas, Marcus and Siu Rui first started, they had just returned from a year in Silicon Valley. Inspired by technology, they started looking for problems to solve – one of which was the decluttering their homes.

Selling on forums and classified sites were so troublesome the trio became lazy. And ironically, that transformed into Carousell version 1.

2. They Didn’t Mean To Startup

“It was just a product we liked,” Siu Rui shares, ‘Snap, List, Sell’ being originally only for their personal use. “We only incorporated Carousell Pte Ltd. on 2 January 2013 out of necessity.”

But it was then that the trio started developing it into a real company, venturing into partnerships, grants and funding.

“But the drive still originates back to the original mission of building a great product and to inspire people to start selling.” 

3. They Weren’t That Worried About Competitors

When they couldn’t find a suitable app, the trio decided to build it.

“As part of the Snapchat and Instagram generation, we intuitively felt that this was the experience we wanted. We couldn’t get it in the market [so] why not build it?” Siu Rui says.

“It was less about Craigslist or SPH going to crush us, and more about here’s a need and there’s no product that solves it.”

4. Siu Rui, ‘Custodian of Values’ 

As CEO, Siu Rui views himself as the “Custodian of Values”. One of his main roles is to set the company’s direction and ensure everyone is aligned on the strategies and mission.

To ensure the overall success of the team, he has to ensure that executives are able to do what they do best. And so, one the main themes of his life is “Get out of the way!”

“You want to make sure they get the resources to do what they do, and we remove the obstacles for them.” 

5. They Hobnobbed With The Zuck Himself

In April 2017, the team was 1 out of 15 startups selected for a round table with Mark Zuckerberg during the Facebook Developer Conference in San Jose, California.

Quek Siu Rui and Mark Zuckerberg / Image Credit: Ngee Ann Polytechnic Facebook

Siu Rui shares that “they talked broadly about technologies and building communities worldwide.”

“One of the things I told him was, hey Mark, in 2011 I was sitting in Stanford University and [you] were a guest speaker there. I was in awe listening to [your] wisdom, and I was really inspired.”

“I said, thank you for inspiring me to do a startup, and thank you for being my one-way mentor.”

6. The Growth Spurt Hurt

As the team grew, Siu Rui reveals that the 3 co-founders became super stretched across 30, 40 people.

“You have more people you don’t interact with on a daily basis, and they start creating their own versions of where [Carousell] is headed.”

“People would work really hard but not in the same direction. Things are chaotic, things are breaking, the community is angry and the team morale is low.”

And for the founders, that was a huge blow. Their employees were sacrificing their lives for the startup, and yet “we can’t give them the right environment and support.”

Image Credit: Vulcan Post

7. It’s All About Speed

Carousell now has over 65 million listings so the tough part now is in discovery.

“How do we make sure you don’t have to scroll through tens of millions of listings – that we can surface it to you in a more efficient manner? That’s what our team is laser-focused on.”

The second thing they want is to disrupt themselves.

“When we started 5 years ago, we built a 10x better product by making selling a 30-second process. Can we now – with 5 years of experience, data and learning – make that 3-seconds?”

In order to achieve that, Siu Rui shares that their investments are now in A.I., machine learning and hiring the best talent.

Quek Siu Rui’s Fireside Chat / Image Credit: Samantha Tay, Vulcan Post

8. The Carousell Future

“In the future, Carousell will be integral with people’s lives,” Siu Rui reflects at the end of the chat.

“Carousell will be synonymous with selling, decluttering and unique items not available elsewhere. We want to be associated with a platform that creates meaningful experiences. That’s our future.”