3 Lessons from Carousell

For Marcus TanQuek Siu Rui and Lucas Ngoo, their idea to improve on the process of buying and selling second-hand goods online led  to founding the immensely successful Carousell. Here are 3 lessons you can learn from this local start-up.

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Start with a problem

When on their year-long immersion program in Silicon Valley, the trio ended up with many items they had purchased through Amazon but no longer used or needed. Selling these as second-hand goods through the conventional platforms like eBay proved cumbersome because of the need to fill in many details and participate on forums. How could this process be improved? Enter the idea of Carousell, an C2C online platform that allows its users to sell and buy goods from each other.

Often, we think we need a big idea before we can set up our own business, but the example of Carousell exemplifies how this need not be the case. Take a good look around you. Are there processes that frustrate you with their inefficiency? Or perhaps a gap you have identified in terms of services provided? Is there something you can do to change that? Sometimes, being able to find an innovative solution to an everyday problem is all you need.

Lesson: Challenge the everyday and always question if there’s a better way to do something.

Rejection is inevitable

For the Carousell team, rejection first came in the form of a professor who did not deem their idea original and worthy enough of a $10,000 NUS grant. Instead of backing down and accepting defeat, they decided to fight for their idea. It took grit and persuasion, but they eventually succeeded in securing some funding to help aid in the development of their business.

As an entrepreneur, it is crucial that you develop a thick skin, because rejection is difficult, if not impossible to avoid. This could come in the form of potential investors, who aren’t won over by your idea and don’t want to fund you. It could even be your family members, who shun the fact that you want to give up a stable career to pursue something as uncertain as entrepreneurship.

Lesson: Believe in your idea and fight for it, because if you don’t, no one else will.


The customer is (always) king

No matter which industry you decide to enter, this age-old adage holds true. For sometime, users of Carousell had lamented not being able to complete their payment transactions on the platform itself. This had discouraged some from using the app, because alternative means of payment such as bank transfers and cash-on-meetup were not secure enough. Taking these concerns into consideration, in May 2018, Carousell announced the upcoming launch of its own digital wallet, aptly named CarouPay. This feature will allow users to make payment without having to exit the app at all.

If you find your business’ growth stagnating and are at a loss as to what can be done to reverse this situation, it pays to take a leaf of out Carousell’s book and listen to your customers. They’re the ones who utilize your service/product and are usually objective in their feedback. If you take it upon yourself to find and address the gaps that put your clients off, not only will customer satisfaction improve, you might find your business growing due to the power of positive word-of-mouth.

Lesson: Listen to your customers and acknowledge their concerns wherever possible.

Written by Sarah Baretto

H.E.R Entrepreneur is a platform for women entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs to be inspired, educated and empowered through our online resources, meet-ups, workshops and conferences.

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