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Carousell positioning itself as "eBay for Southeast Asia"

The owners of homegrown mobile marketplace start-up Carousell say their short-to-medium term focus is to become the "eBay for Southeast Asia".

SINGAPORE: Homegrown mobile marketplace start-up Carousell is positioning itself as the "eBay for Southeast Asia".

The company soft-launched its smartphone app in Malaysia and Indonesia this year and beyond the next five years, it plans to take on markets like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand.

Since its launch in August 2012, there are now more than a million listings on the Carousell app.

Founded by Quek Siurui, 27, Lucas Ngoo, 26, and Marcus Tan, 30, Carousell saw encouraging growth in the number of users last year.

The team plans to further improve their product by adding credibility features like verification and eventually some payment options.

Its short-to-medium term focus is to be the "eBay for Southeast Asia".

Quek, the co-founder of Carousell, said: "We want to build something very scalable. This market is huge. It has 610 million people and 400 plus million people are still not on the internet yet but these guys have their mobile phones. They are on feature phones now but increasingly switching to smartphones. You have handsets in Indonesia going for US$50."

To drive expansion into Malaysia and Indonesia, Carousell raised S$1 million in seed investment last year.

Rakuten led the round of funding with other investors including Golden Gate Ventures and 500 Startups as well as angel investors Danny Oei Wirianto and Darius Cheung.

Golden Gate Ventures said Singapore has a "healthy eco-system" and start-ups are likely to get more help from the private sector going forward.

Vinnie Lauria, founding partner of Golden Gate Ventures, said: "Right now, it is some private investment and some government investment. I think we are going to start seeing much more private investment at the Series A level. That is where companies raise S$3 million to S$5 million.

"Now, we are seeing entrepreneurs pop up and that's attracting private investors that can see the value there, they see the talent."

Carousell's headcount has grown from three to seven full-timers in about a year and a half, with one staff each in Malaysia and Indonesia.

Carousell said a key challenge for start-ups is in getting talent on board.

For example, it has been looking to recruit an additional staff since last October. Till today, that position is still vacant.

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