Singapore C2C online marketplace snags $6M Series A funding

Consumer-to-consumer e-commerce site, Carousell, secures US$6 million in its latest round of financing and will be looking to expand into the region including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore-based consumer-to-consumer (C2C) online marketplace, Carousell, has snagged US$6 million in Series A funding and will use the incoming investment to expand into the region including Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.

Founded in 2012, the startup partnered Sequoia Capital India to secure the latest round of funds, which also included its existing investors Rakuten Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups, and local entrepreneur Darius Cheung. The investment will be tapped to facilitate Carousell's expansion into the region, with primary focus on Malaysia and Indonesia, as well as a Taiwan launch by end-2014, the company's one of three co-founders, Quek Siu Rui, told ZDNet. 

There are further plans to set up presence in other markets, but details on this will only be made after the team has evaluated and decided on its options by the first quarter of 2015, Quek said. 

Elaborating on the company's expansion plans, he noted: "We plan to localize our apps and community outreach channels, tweaking things like language, currency and so on. We will also hire a local community and marketing team to set up in each market, where we typically start with a team of 1 to 2 people."

Priority will go toward boosting its engineering, product, and community teams so improvements can be rolled out more quickly on the Carousell site, making it simpler and safer to buy and sell on the lifestyle marketplace, the company said. 

Touting itself as a "mobile-first C2C marketplace", the site allows sellers to take a photo and list the item for sale in 30 seconds. Buyers can also chat with sellers via a private chat tool that's integrated into the app. 

Quek declined to reveal the dollar value of transactions Carousell processes each month, but said it has transacted more than 2 million items on its mobile app since launch. He added that this volume had increased by over 10-fold over the past year. On average, eight transactions are processed every minute, and the average user spend 21 minutes daily browsing the Carousell app. More than 8 million listings have been created on the marketplace, including popular sales items such as high street fashion, beauty products, and lifestyle gadgets. 

"Going mobile-first is necessary as there are now 2 billion people accessing the internet via smartphones, many of whom are increasingly using smartphones as the primary means of connecting to the internet." he said. "It's a big and important mission, and we're thrilled to welcome Sequoia to the family to learn from their extensive experience having backed global companies like Apple, Google and WhatsApp."

Asked about Carousell's revenue numbers, Quek said it is still a pre-revenue company and currently focused on product improvements and growth, particularly in new markets.

"Monetization is important to us because we want to make sure we can keep building great products to help others. We will monetize through features to help sellers, for example, through premium listings so they can get more visibility for their items, as well as other seller management tools to make selling more efficient and manageable for those with high sales volume," he explained.

The startup currently has 12 full-time staff as well as 11 part-timers and interns based in Singapore, Malaysia, and Taiwan, he said, adding that there are plans to increase the headcount with more engineers and new hires in community, marketing, and customer service, but did not say by how many. 

Sequoia's investment here had come from its recent India IV fund in April during which US$530 million was raised.

According to latest stats from PayPal, the average Singapore shopper spends US$1,861 a year on purchases bought online or via their mobile devices. In addition, the country's e-commerce market will reach US$2.99 billion while m-commerce will hit US$1.18 billion by year-end.

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