It was an illustrious list, a coming-of-age list: We congratulate Alumni Quek Siu Rui (BBA 2012) and Chan Yiwen (BBA 2014) on being included in the “Forbes 30 under 30” Asia list. The list highlights 300 of the top young leaders, entrepreneurs and influential figures from 10 different sectors in Asia. Well done!
We spoke to Siu Rui who was nominated under the “Consumer Tech” category.
Siu Rui was nominated for his app Carousell which he co-founded with classmates Lucas Ngoo and Marcus Tan. Carousell is a community marketplace that lets users buy and sell everything from fashion, beauty products, furniture, art, books, branded goods, cars, bikes, antiques to houses.
Over 8 million items have been transacted on Carousell to date, while users’ listing stands at a whopping 26 million. Carousell has also made inroads into Malaysia, Indonesia, and Taiwan.
Siu Rui is an award-winning student who studied Business Administration and Entrepreneurship at NUS, graduating as Reserve Valedictorian in 2012. Along the way, he was on Dean’s List twice and also received the NUS Global Merit Scholarship and the NUS Overseas College (Silicon Valley) Scholarship.
In 2011, he spent a year at Stanford University under the NUS Overseas College Program. During his stay in Silicon Valley, he worked full-time as an intern in a tech startup called VSee. The experience shaped his perspective on being an entrepreneur:
It was inspiring to be immersed in an environment where everyone was so passionate about technology and applying that passion to solve problems. Everywhere you go you see people talking about technology, and you see serial entrepreneurs who have made millions but are still working really hard on their next start-up to solve problems.
It was also really fascinating to see relatively small teams make a global impact – WhatsApp at time of acquisition by Facebook had 450 million active users and only 35 engineers! So it was this environment that made me fall in love with technology and its potential to make such a huge impact.
When he returned to Singapore, he took the plunge:
I was determined to try to use my new found love for technology to solve problems on an equally large scale, i.e. the world. But we had to first find a meaningful problem to solve. We stumbled on a personal problem that inspired us to start Carousell.
I got increasingly annoyed that my old MacBook and other gadgets were just sitting there and collecting dust though I’ve always wanted to sell it to get some cash back since it still worked fine. However, I just never got around to doing so because it is too much of a hassle to list something for sale on traditional forums or classifieds sites.
So we thought we could use smartphones to make selling as easy as taking a photo. We built a prototype at Startup Weekend Singapore in Mar 2012 and won the competition; but the biggest inspiration was actually having many people tweeting us and telling us they would like to download the app right away. It was validation that this could be a meaningful solution for a lot more people.
On why, this win and where next:
I personally love technology, and its ability to solve problems and make an impact. Online marketplaces before Carousell were built for savvy computer users, and were a hassle to sell on. With Carousell, we are making online buying and selling accessible to the masses by making it as simple as texting and taking a photo. Recently, a 60-year-old postman managed to buy a bike off Carousell to help him with his work, and he got it at a fraction of the retail price.
We are very happy and proud of our team at Carousell, because making this list was only possible with their dedication, passion and hard work every single day on the mission.
What’s next? We are heads down focused on our mission of inspiring the world to start selling. We are now in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Taiwan, and we are working hard to bring Carousell to more countries in the world to benefit even more people.
All the best, Team Carousell!