Mr. Marcus Tan (speaker at National University Of Singapore)
It is my pleasure & am honoured to interview one of the co-founder of Carousell, currently Southeast Asia’s largest and fastest growing mobile-first C2C marketplace Mobile Apps. Entirely originated and made in Singapore, Carousell works in a user-friendly mode of the 3 easy steps of “Snap-List-Post”(Snap a photo of your item, List it with purchase & item details, Post it instantly to outreach to the Carousell Community so that you can easily free up your wardrobe space! That’s so easy! Interested buyers can easily have an exchange of conversation to strike a deal with the sellers via a meet up or postal delivery to home.
Carousell is founded by three ideas alike friends (Mr. Lucas Ngoo, Mr. Quek Siu Rui & Mr. Marcus Tan) whom have the inspiring motive to get the world selling & transacting in a daily motion. To further understand them, here’s my interview with him:
Carousell & the men behind the brilliant idea, as featured in The New Paper, Singapore. Mr. Marcus as seated on the extreme right. Photo credits: Mr. Marcus Tan
1) How & when do you get your ideas to setup Carousell which is such a cool platform for trading & dealing?
We were inspired after spending a year in California (part of our University Internship program). We fell in love with technology after witnessing how companies like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram use technology to solve hard meaningful problems at large scale. We decided to bring back what we learned and create something that solved our own problems in Singapore.
One of the biggest problem we faced was that we had tons of stuff like gadgets, books, and clothes lying wasted and collecting dust. Furthermore existing marketplaces like Hardwarezone and Clubsnap have not innovated and stuck on desktop experience. We wanted something mobile, simple, social and inspiring to buy and sell.
That is when we took a leap of faith on 14 May 2012: – I quit my job back then at Oracle – Siu Rui dropped his honors degree – Lucas worked on Carousell full time while studying “part time” in his final year of studies The first version of Carousell was created on 13 Aug 2012. Siu Rui leads product and support. Lucas leads technology and engineering and I lead design and community.
2) Why do you choose this profession and what do you most love & appreciate about this passion?
We love technology and wanted to create something meaningful. Before going to USA, we wanted to work in established corporation but after assimilating the culture and learning from the community there, we decided to take the plunge and start something that we cared about. That is, selling was extremely tedious in forums and marketplaces.We then realized that this problem resonated with many more people and we started to get validation and people using Carousell on a regular basis.
3) What difficulties do you face in pursuing this dream & how do you overcome it? If you have the chance to talk to your younger self, what will you say?
The 2 biggest challenges are:
1. Hiring: Building a great app requires great talents who are willing to work hard and smart. And since we are a startup they need to work for equity instead of high salary. Solution: Being thick skin and ask your friends for referrals and also going to meet ups.
2. Expanding: Singapore is a small market with a cap of 5 million plus population. It is challenging to expand in the region because of language and infrastructure barriers. Solution: no answers to this yet. Still figuring how to expand. What we are doing now is running quick experiments and learning from the results.
If I see my younger self, I would ask him to start earlier. And also procrastinate less, don’t care of being judged and take action in what you believe in. I realized the difference between success and failure is being courageous and making so many mistakes until you succeed.
4) Who inspires you, or whom do you inspire to be like?
Our community inspires us. We wake up motivated to build a better product so that the community can benefit more. Our company’s mission is to inspire millions to start selling because it is meaningful. Sellers get to make money off items that they no longer use and buyers get to save money buying second hand. In addition, some entrepreneurial sellers have started to create great products and started sell on Carousell as their main channel. (For example, http://carousell.co/duttiepop
)Companies like Instagram and Whatsapp inspire us. They have very small team (compared to Microsoft or Yahoo) but still have the resource to serve millions of users and solve a meaningful problem at large scale. That is what we aspire to be.
I also love to read articles/books about Jack Ma, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs and many more inspiring CEOs / founders. You can never stop learning and reading about them.
5) How do you strike a work-life balance?
I still hang out with my friends every once in awhile on weekends or late at night on weekdays. Life goes on but I am more careful with my plans and scheduling of events because I want to make the best use of my time. Life is too short.
6) What are the things that makes you happy in life?
I see sellers making a living out of using Carousell, or having pocket money to go school. For buyers, they get good deals which they previously cannot afford and it improves their lives (for example books). Some are 50 -70% off retail price.
There is this huge satisfaction to see people benefiting from Carousell. These stories make the team happy and motivate us to think of how we can improve Carousell further even with our limited resource.
The Carousell Team 🙂 (Picture provided by Mr. Macus Tan)
Just says: I first met him at Suntec City Singapore Convention Hall where the 2014 Mega Flea Market was held. Marcus and one of the co-founder Mr. Quek Siu Rui were there, both were very approachable and inspiring young entrepreneurs. It is such an awesome idea for everyone to have a taste of being your own boss, able to accessibly sell your own wares just by the click of your fingers! Isn’t that awesome? This gives our stuffs a second life to be useful to again for the next owner, rather than being ended up in the trash or with the Rag & Bone men which might be just a few cents worth. As the going says, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”. Which their invention truly proves the point. I had a great opportunity to interview him & I hope more will be inspired to make an impact in your lives. It won’t make no difference if you’re young or old to start now. Just have a start somewhere & you won’t know where are you going to soar high! 🙂
If you have any questions, just email on header Ask Marcus to: justawesomedays(at)gmail(dot)com