Carousell, the Singaporean homegrown startup and now one of the world’s largest and fastest growing classifieds, celebrated its seventh anniversary on Friday. In commemoration of the historic day, the company launched a new visual identity and revealed that it has reached its 250th million listing and fourfold revenue growth in 2018.
Fresh, new look
The visual identity refresh signifies the brand’s progression and growth, while never losing grip of its core purpose–enabling shared possibilities amongst users of its online marketplace.
The new logo mark continues to retain the strong link to the Kodak carousel, which was the inspiration behind Carousell’s name. The founders were inspired by the Kodak carousel and how it infinitely goes round and round. It is a reflection of the Carousell platform where things are passed from one owner to the next. Behind each item is a win-win story of a buyer and seller coming together to share possibilities (and sometimes make friends in real life, too).
Co-founder and CEO, Quek Siu Rui had his own “Win-Win” story to tell. He sold his old white MacBook on Carousell to a father with a young daughter. The father wanted his daughter to learn about the internet but could not afford a brand new computer. He then turned to Carousel to find the computer he needed. This transaction made Sui Rui realise that Carousell serves a real need.
There are a lot more win-win stories to tell on platform. And it’s amazing to think that seven years ago, there wasn’t an easy way to sell stuff online; existing platforms were complicated and uninspiring to use. Certainly, they weren’t mobile optimised too.
Seeing this, Siu Rui together with Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan, all graduates of Ngee Ann Polytechnic, founded Carousell in May 14, 2012.
I liked how Siu Rui described Carousell in a nutshell, “We launched a mobile app that made selling as easy as taking a photo, buying as simple as chatting, and we made it social–easy to share to other mobile platforms.” That statement describes not only how Carousell works, but also clearly defines its unique selling proposition to users. Something the status quo does not offer, or doesn’t do well enough.
And users, they now have a lot. Growing rapidly since its inception, the mobile-first platform (the web version didn’t debut until 2015), launched in Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan in 2014, and subsequently landing in Australia, Hong Kong and The Philippines in 2016.
Along the way, it has raised some serious money to further grow the platform: it raised USD800,000 in seed funding from Quest Ventures; USD1 million from Rakuten, Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups, and a few others; USD6 million Series A from Sequoia India; and in August 2016 raised USD35 million Series B funding from Rakuten, Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups. Led by Rakuten Ventures and EBDI, it raised a further USD85 million in Series C funding in 2018.
The money has been put to good use. In 2017, it acquired Caarly to fast-track itself into the automotive space. As part of its monetisation strategy, it introduced Coins, the platform’s virtual currency and the “Bump” feature for users to “bump up” their postings. Carousell also added Property to its expanding classifieds categories.
It introduced Spotlight to complement its Coins and Bump feature in 2018 and also launched CarouPay, the platform’s e-wallet in partnership with DBS, Stripe and VISA.
Earlier this year, Carousell acquired OLX Philippines after an investment from Naspers, one of the largest technology investors in the world. The move fast-tracks Carousell’s presence in the Philippines and instantly taps into OLX’s 6 million user base. The deal is reported to be worth USD56 million.
How Carousell makes money
For the most part of its journey, the platform has primarily focused on market growth, enhancing product features and improving user experience, and didn’t start monetisation efforts until mid-2017.
In a separate media interview, Siu Rui explained that Carousell harnesses three monetisation streams: External advertising, where brands make use of the platform’s targeting capabilities to grow their business; premium visibility products for sellers like Coins, Bumps, and Spotlight; and Vertical Subscriptions, currently available in Singapore – a bundle of listing fees and Coins targeted at car dealers and property agents.
At this juncture, all three streams contribute roughly the same amount to its bottom line, and he expects these streams to continue to grow strongly moving forward.
He pointed out that the classifieds space has a proven business model and it didn’t require them to reinvent the wheel. However, what Carousell did was reimagine the user experience; at the core of it, being mobile-first, social, easy and intuitive to use.
Siu Rui’s statement doesn’t go unwarranted. The company announced a four fold revenue growth in 2018 in just a full year of monetisation, demonstrating a strong growth trajectory. This validates the platforms viability and sustainability, and an affirmation that the brand is on the right track.
Running in its fourth year, the annual Carouselland is a culmination of what Carousell stands for and how the platform has impacted its users. Themed “Small dream, big opportunities,” the large scale indoor marketplace is the perfect celebration of Carousell’s seventh anniversary and the coming together of the vibrant, growing buyer-seller community.
With over 300 vendors classified under a hodge podge of goods under seven thematic categories including Style and Property, and even Alternate Reality, there’s “something for everyone.”
Carouselland 2019 is held at Marina Bay Sands Expo and Convention Halls A & B from 16-18 August 2019. It is open to the public and entrance is free of charge.