Quek Siu Rui

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Quek Siu Rui
Quek Siu Rui.jpg
Born
Quek Siu Rui

1988
EducationNational University of Singapore (Bachelor of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship)
Known forCarousell CEO and Co-founder

Quek Siu Rui is the Chief Executive Officer and co-founder of Carousell, a virtual online marketplace. Qiu Rui founded Carousell in 2012 alongside Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo. In 2018, Siu Rui was featured on Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 List for his achievements with Carousell.[1] Carousell is recognised as the pioneer of mobile classifieds in Singapore. It operates as a mobile-first platform that emerged at the rise of the smartphone trend.[2][3] In 2018, Carousell was valued at $500 million.[4]

Background

Quek Siu Rui at a sharing session during the TECHINASIA Singapore conference in 2018. Photo from Jump Start Mag.

Siu Rui graduated from the National University of Singapore in 2012 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and Entrepreneurship. He graduated as Reserve Valedictorian in 2012. During his undergraduate years, he was listed twice on the Dean’s List and received the NUS Global Merit Scholarship and the NUS Overseas College (Silicon Valley) Scholarship.[5]


Siu Rui also participated in the NUS Overseas College Program and spent a year abroad at Stanford University. During his stay in Silicon Valley, he worked full-time as an intern for VSee, a tech start-up. He mentions that he was influenced by the start-up environment in Silicon Valley, where people are always looking for new solutions to existing problems.[6]


In May 2012, Siu Rui dropped out of his Honours year to work full-time on Carousell.[7] Siu Rui remarked having to face his parents’ disappointment over his decision to drop out of his honours year while batting away fears of larger companies crushing their start-up.[8] Despite these challenges, Siu Rui was featured on Forbes Asia 30 Under 30 List in 2018 for his achievements with Carousell.[9] As of 2019, the Carousell CEO reportedly drives a second-hand car that he bought on Carousell.[10]

Origins of Carousell (2012)

Quek Siu Rui (extreme left), Lucas Ngoo and Marcus Tan developed and pitched Carousell in 2012. Photo from Keppel Land Live.

Singapore Start-up Weekend

The idea for Carousell stemmed from Siu Rui’s frustration when he tried selling his old Macbook. He found traditional forums and classified ads troublesome and looked for a more streamlined solution. Siu Rui, Marcus Tan and Lucas Ngoo came up with “Snapsell” - a virtual flea market where users can easily buy and sell second-hand items.[11]


The three pitched the idea during the Singapore Startup Weekend in March 2012. Siu Rui recalls that the idea for Snapsell nearly did not make the cut for the one-minute pitch for 40 ideas and that they fell short again for the final pitch. However, some of the teams dropped out so they were able to make it to the final round of pitching.[12]


The team spent 54-hours battling stubborn code and went on to win the top prize at Startup Weekend. They won their own office space at Blk 71, a startup ecosystem at Ayer Rajah Crescent. The team also had a chance to pitch at Angel’s Gate where they could gather investors and funding.[13]


Siu Rui shared that the idea for Carousell’s name came from the television series Mad Men, where Don Draper was pitching the Kodak Carousel. They adopted the name, adding an ‘l’ at the back to link to the idea of selling.[14]

Launch

For 3 months, Siu Rui and his co-founders spent every weekend visiting flea markets where they gathered feedback from sellers and shoppers. Out of the 100 flea market sellers they approached, 70 sellers bought into the idea of Carousell. They contributed 700 listings onto the Carousell marketplace, but they were accidentally deleted two weeks before the launch.[15]


After 4 months of preparation, the three co-founders launched Carousell on 13 August 2012.[16] The first item sold on Carousell was an Amazon Kindle e-reader, which was sold for S$75.[17] During the first 18 months of Carousell, Siu Rui and his co-founders went without salaries and had to convince their parents to support their start-up idea.[18]

Further growth (2014 - Present)

The promotional banner for Carouselland 2019. Photo from Carousell.
The Carousell HQ at Keppel Towers. Photo from Keppel Land Live.

In 2014, Siu Rui was offered US$100 million to sell Carousell but he turned down the offer. Siu Rui was inspired by Mark Zuckerberg who declined to sell Facebook in its early days.[19] In 2016, Carousell had over 8 million items transacted on the platform, and users’ listings amounted to 26 million.[20]


Since 2015, Carousell has hosted Carouselland - a flagship flea market event that includes satellite sharing sessions by lifestyle influencers, workshops and games.[21] The Carousell office moved to Keppel Towers in 2017.[22]

Business acquisitions

Carousell acquired Caarly in 2016, an online platform for car dealers and individual sellers to list used cars. Siu Rui mentions that the acquisition came about when the company noticed an increase in used car listings together with a shift in the demographic of users in Singapore, over half of whom are aged over 25 with higher purchasing power.[23]


Carousell also acquired 6 developers from Watch Over Me, a safety app for women developed by a Malaysian start-up, in an acquihire.[24] Carousell has also hired Andrius Baranauskas as head of product. Andrius helped Vinted, a second-hand fashion startup, to reach 11 million members in eight countries. Carousell also recruited JJ Chai, Airbnb’s Southeast Asia lead, to manage international expansion plans.[25]


In 2017, Carousell acquired Duriana, a Malaysian online marketplace due to its company base of 600,000 registered users. The acquisition allowed Carousell to expand overseas and widen its user base.[26] As of 2019, Carousell has a presence in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan.


Siu Rui’s long-term goal is for Carousell to increase the access of online selling to every smartphone user in the world.[27] With the acquisition of OLX Philippines in April 2019, Siu Rui shared that Carousell’s top priority for the next 2 to 3 years would be to cement their leadership in the classifieds sector in Southeast Asia.[28]

Technological innovations

In a 2018 interview for Forbes, Siu Rui shared his plans for Carousell. He mentioned that Carousell is branching into artificial intelligence - specifically, AI-powered listings. He remarked that Carousell intends to tap on the “predictive and automated capabilities [to improve] the overall buying and selling experience”.[29]


In June 2018, Carousell launched Caroupay, a payment system that allows users to complete transactions without having to leave the app.[30] Carousell has partnered with leading financial institutions such as DBS, Strip and Visa to offer users to pay via DBS Paylah!, credit or debit cards.[31]


In 2019, Carousell looked at monetisation to increase sales and profits through paid advertisements and partnerships as well as Carousell Pro, a subscription service for car dealers and property agents in Singapore.[32][33][34]

References / Citations

  1. Armstrong, Paul. “30 Under 30 Asia Alumni Taking Over The World.” Forbes. March 26, 2018. Accessed on 20 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/armstrongpaul/2018/03/26/30-under-30-asia-alumni-taking-over-the-world/#1654181b19a1
  2. Hutt, David. "Rise of the Southeast Asian Entrepreneur: An Interview with Quek Siu Rui." Southeast Asia Globe. May 16, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://southeastasiaglobe.com/interview-quek-siu-rui/
  3. Tan, Sumiko. "Lunch With Sumiko: For the First 18 Months, Carousell Co-founders Had No Salaries." The Straits Times. June 03, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/3-guys-and-a-great-idea
  4. Lee, Yoolim. "Why a 26-year-old Turned down US$100M Offer for His Startup - BNN Bloomberg." BNN Bloomberg. June 04, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/why-a-26-year-old-turned-down-100-million-offer-for-his-startup-1.1087503
  5. NUS Business School. "Alumni Quek Siu Rui and Chan Yiwen Make It to the "Forbes 30 Under 30" List." Outside In. March 31, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://outside-in.nus.edu.sg/alumni-quek-siu-rui-and-chan-yiwen-make-it-to-the-forbes-30-under-30-list/
  6. NUS Business School. "Alumni Quek Siu Rui and Chan Yiwen Make It to the "Forbes 30 Under 30" List." Outside In. March 31, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://outside-in.nus.edu.sg/alumni-quek-siu-rui-and-chan-yiwen-make-it-to-the-forbes-30-under-30-list/
  7. Hutt, David. "Rise of the Southeast Asian Entrepreneur: An Interview with Quek Siu Rui." Southeast Asia Globe. May 16, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://southeastasiaglobe.com/interview-quek-siu-rui/
  8. Tay, Samantha. "8 Quickfire Facts About Carousell's Journey - Past, Present And Future." Vulcan Post. May 18, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://vulcanpost.com/610907/8-things-dont-know-carousell/
  9. Armstrong, Paul. “30 Under 30 Asia Alumni Taking Over The World.” Forbes. March 26, 2018. Accessed on 20 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/armstrongpaul/2018/03/26/30-under-30-asia-alumni-taking-over-the-world/#1654181b19a1
  10. Tan, Sumiko. "Lunch With Sumiko: For the First 18 Months, Carousell Co-founders Had No Salaries." The Straits Times. June 03, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/3-guys-and-a-great-idea
  11. Lim, Patrick J. "Carousell – The Early Years." Carousell. September 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.carousell.com/carousell-early-years/
  12. Lim, Patrick J. "Carousell – The Early Years." Carousell. September 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.carousell.com/carousell-early-years/
  13. Lim, Patrick J. "Carousell – The Early Years." Carousell. September 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.carousell.com/carousell-early-years/
  14. Kim, Jay. “The Jay Kim Show #37: Siu Rui Quek (Transcript).” Jay Kim Show. July 7, 2017. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.jaykimshow.com/2017/04/siu-rui-quek-transcript/
  15. Lim, Patrick J. "Carousell – The Early Years." Carousell. September 05, 2017. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://blog.carousell.com/carousell-early-years/
  16. Hutt, David. "Rise of the Southeast Asian Entrepreneur: An Interview with Quek Siu Rui." Southeast Asia Globe. May 16, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://southeastasiaglobe.com/interview-quek-siu-rui/
  17. Yap, Jacky. "Carousell Makes E-commerce Simpler with Mobile Marketplace." E27. August 13, 2012. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://e27.co/just-snap-and-sell-with-carousell-the-mobile-marketplace-that-makes-e-commerce-simpler/
  18. Tan, Sumiko. "Lunch With Sumiko: For the First 18 Months, Carousell Co-founders Had No Salaries." The Straits Times. June 03, 2019. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/3-guys-and-a-great-idea
  19. Lee, Yoolim. "Why a 26-year-old Turned down US$100M Offer for His Startup - BNN Bloomberg." BNN Bloomberg. June 04, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/why-a-26-year-old-turned-down-100-million-offer-for-his-startup-1.1087503
  20. NUS Business School. "Alumni Quek Siu Rui and Chan Yiwen Make It to the "Forbes 30 Under 30" List." Outside In. March 31, 2016. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://outside-in.nus.edu.sg/alumni-quek-siu-rui-and-chan-yiwen-make-it-to-the-forbes-30-under-30-list/
  21. Carouselland SG. Accessed on 20 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.carouselland.sg/
  22. "CAROUSELL MOVES INTO KEPPEL TOWERS". Keppel Land https://www.keppellandlive.com/inspiration/carousell-hq-has-a-new-home.html
  23. Tegos, Michael. "Carousell is getting serious about making money, acquires used-car app". Tech In Asia. October 27, 2016. Accessed on 20 August 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.techinasia.com/carousell-caarly-acquisition
  24. Russell, Jon. “Carousell Eats up Another Struggling Startup to Boost Its Social Commerce App in Southeast Asia.” TechCrunch. January 6, 2017. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/06/duriana-gets-carousold/
  25. Russell, Jon. “Mobile Classifieds Startup Carousell Makes First Acquisition Weeks after Raising $35M.” TechCrunch. September 1, 2016. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/01/mobile-classifieds-startup-carousell-makes-first-acquisition-weeks-after-raising-35m/
  26. Russell, Jon. “Carousell Eats up Another Struggling Startup to Boost Its Social Commerce App in Southeast Asia.” TechCrunch. January 6, 2017. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://techcrunch.com/2017/01/06/duriana-gets-carousold/
  27. Epoch Times. “Carousell-A Singapore Start Up.” The Epoch Times (Singapore). December 14, 2018. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://epochtimes.today/carousell-a-singapore-start-up/
  28. Moh, Robin. "Acquisitions Are a Way to Grow: Carousell Co-founder and CEO Quek Siu Rui with an Outlook Post-Naspers Deal – KrASIA." KrASIA. April 17, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://kr-asia.com/acquisitions-is-a-way-to-grow-carousell-co-founder-and-ceo-quek-siu-rui-with-an-outlook-post-naspers-deal
  29. Armstrong, Paul. "30 Under 30 Asia Alumni Taking Over The World." Forbes. March 28, 2018. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/armstrongpaul/2018/03/26/30-under-30-asia-alumni-taking-over-the-world/#1239142819a1
  30. Lee, Yoolim. "Why a 26-year-old Turned down US$100M Offer for His Startup - BNN Bloomberg." BNN Bloomberg. June 04, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/why-a-26-year-old-turned-down-100-million-offer-for-his-startup-1.1087503
  31. C, Christy. "Carouselling to Success." Hive Life Magazine. July 31, 2019. Accessed August 15, 2019. Retrieved from: https://hivelife.com/carouselling-to-success/
  32. Kim, Jay. “The Jay Kim Show #37: Siu Rui Quek (Transcript).” Jay Kim Show. July 7, 2017. Accessed on August 16, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.jaykimshow.com/2017/04/siu-rui-quek-transcript/
  33. Lee, Yoolim. "Why a 26-year-old Turned down US$100M Offer for His Startup - BNN Bloomberg." BNN Bloomberg. June 04, 2018. Accessed August 14, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/why-a-26-year-old-turned-down-100-million-offer-for-his-startup-1.1087503
  34. Pillai, Sharanya. “Carousell's Monetising Push Quadruples 2018 Sales, but It's Still US$25m in the Red.” The Business Times. August 14, 2019. Accessed August 16, 2019. Retrieved from:  https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/garage/carousells-monetising-push-quadruples-2018-sales-but-its-still-us25m-in-the-red