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Singaporean marketplace Carousell expands to Australia

One of Asia’s largest mobile classifieds marketplaces, Carousell, is expanding to Australia, hoping to tap into the country’s thriving ecommerce industry.

The company, which has raised more than $54 million to date from some of the world’s most renowned venture capital companies, including Sequoia Capital and Silicon Valley’s 500 Startups, is opening a Melbourne office and wants to give local consumers an easier and quicker way to buy and sell goods online.

Founded in 2012 by long-time friends Siu Rui Quek and Marcus Tan, alongside Lucas Ngoo who the pair met at university in Singapore, Carousell is in direct competition with Facebook’s new marketplace feature, but the trio believed they had a leg up.

“There’s a lot that goes into making a platform great,” Mr Quek said. “It’s not just about making an app, there’s a lot of work that goes into it about creating liquidity in the marketplace and building a strong community.

“Our general sense, though, is that, when you’re solving a large enough problem, there will always be others trying to solve it, too. We see competition as a form of validation that we’re solving a problem that needs solving.”

The Australian ecommerce market has been tipped to exceed $24 billion by 2018 and, according to a 2016 Nielsen study, about one in four consumers shop online weekly.

The co-founders have all spent time in Silicon Valley and formed a common desire to use technology to tackle global problems while they were in San Francisco.

But it was their own experiences with traditional online classifieds sites that ultimately led them to create a platform that was easier to use and took seconds, rather than minutes, to upload items for sale.

“It was extremely difficult to see on those sites [that existed five years ago],” Mr Tan said. “With Carousell, in less than 30 seconds you can have something up for sale and, to buy it, it’s as simple as sending a text message. Simplicity is the solution.

“If you connect the old business model that thrived in yesteryear with the potential of the mobile internet world, you’ve got a massive company,” Mr Quek added.

Despite just launching in Australia, the company has experienced organic growth in the region, surpassing 1 million listings on the marketplace by the end of the September quarter.

It has also been averaging 20 per cent month-on-month growth locally and globally (it’s in five countries), it has surpassed 41 million listings and had facilitated almost 20 million transactions to date.

Mr Quek said the company was establishing a physical presence, as well as a digital one, in Australia in order to deliver a “hyperlocal” product.

 “For Australia, we have dedicated product and marketing staff with a team of about two people on the ground in Melbourne,” he said. “But we want to scale up that team, especially with the growth we’re seeing in the community, and we’re hoping to double it by early next year.”

Carousell would not disclose its valuation, but the company closed a $US35 million Series B round earlier this year, led by Japanese venture capital fund Rakuten Ventures.

Mr Quek and Mr Ngoo were featured on this year’s Forbes’ Consumer Tech 30 under 30 list, alongside Australia’s OneShift founder Genevieve George.

Carousell’s expansion to Australia follows many other global tech companies this year, after US unicorn Qualtrics opened a regional headquarters in Sydney and Salesforce also committed to Australia as the hub of its APAC strategy. Other companies such as Square, Slack, Zendesk and GoPro have also expanded here in the past few years.


Original article appeared on The Financial Review