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Singapore's Carousell snags US$35 million funding as online marketplaces thrive

Online marketplace has raised more than US$40 million, and is available in 13 major cities around Asia, including Singapore, Taipei and most recently in Hong Kong

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 6:54am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 02 August, 2016, 10:06am

Singapore-based startup, Carousell, has raised US$35 million in a funding round led by Rakuten Ventures, underscoring growing appeal for peer-to-peer marketplaces in Asia.

Other investors in the Series B funding round included Sequoia India, Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups, according to a statement.

The company, which was founded in 2012, allows users to buy and sell a broad variety of items on an online marketplace, ranging from beauty products, fashion, lifestyle gadgets to furniture and home appliances. Sellers upload photos of the items they'd like to sell while buyers use the chat function to buy.

The new funds raised will be used to speed up Carousell's growth into new markets, strengthen its product and engineering capabilities and build a world-class team, Quek Siu Rui, co-founder and CEO at Carousell says.

Recently, the Singaporean company hired the former managing director for Southeast Asia at Airbnb, Chai Jia Jih, to oversee the company's international expansion.

To date, Carousell has raised approximately US$41.8 million, and is available in 13 major cities around Asia, including Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Jakarta, Taipei and most recently in Hong Kong. Quek did not disclose which markets are next on Carousell's radar.

Carousell's marketplace had over 35 million listings globally as of the second quarter of 2016, with more than 70 listings made per minute, according to Quek. "On average, a Carousell user spends about 17 minutes a day on the app," he said.

Peer-to-peer marketplaces have seen growing popularity in Asia, with competitors such as Indonesian marketplace, Tokopedia, also snagging funding in recent months. Tokopedia has raised US$247.7 million in total equity funding to date, according to CrunchBase data.

Other competitors also include many unofficial user-created Facebook groups that offer a similar peer-to-peer selling platform.

The competition, Quek said, was "further validation that the problem we are solving is a massive one, and [it] shows a real need for innovation in marketplace that have traditionally only served the desktop internet users community."

Asia currently boasts two of the world's largest smartphone markets - China and India.

To stand out from the competition, Carousell puts emphasis on speed. Quek said it took as little as 30 seconds to post a listing on the marketplace; and users can communicate within the app, eliminating the need for messaging apps or emails.

Rakuten Ventures' managing partner, Saemin Ahn, said in a statement, "When Rakuten Ventures first invested in Carousell, it was a scrappy and hungry group of founders determined to change the way people transact with one another in the 21st century ... we now see their vision and this want for interacted shared by vast groups of people not only in Singapore, but also in countries like Indonesia, Taiwan and Hong Kong."

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