SNAP, LIST, CAROUSELL

Carousell office

Until the birth of buying and selling platform Carousell, Singaporeans had to make do with cumbersome forums or classified ads when they wanted to buy or sell second-hand goods. With a 180-strong team spread across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Taiwan, Hong Kong and even the United States, it’s no surprise that Carousell has taken the mobile classifieds world by storm.

We spoke with Siu Rui Quek, Co-founder and CEO, to find out what this thriving company is up to and how space plays an important part in cultivating good company culture.

Carousell CEO

Describe Carousell in three words or less.

Snap, list, sell.

What is one important lesson you’ve learned from growing a company like Carousell?

We’ve learned that in order to grow quickly, we have to do things that don’t scale. When we first started out, it was tough. At one point, we had only seven new users a day. Of course, having 400 active daily users was encouraging — we kept in close contact with them and e-mailed every single person who signed up, building a relationship from the ground up. As a result, we discovered that the people who resonated most with our product were between 15–24 years old, who had no assumptions of how online marketplaces historically worked.

Since then, we’ve continued to do things that don’t scale because every single interaction with a Carousell user can make a difference. What’s special is that we’re not just building a platform but a community of users.

 

What’s next for Carousell?

We are currently focussed on expanding our offerings in key categories, particularly in cars, jobs and services, as well as property. We’re also investing heavily and building a team in artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning.

We feel AI will underpin the next revolution in classified ads, so we’re exploring how we can leverage this technology. We’re currently experimenting with AI tools as a means to help our users list and sell faster, and also as a way to deliver a more personalised experience.

How big is your current team? What’s the company culture like?

The team currently has more than 180 people from 19 different countries, with varying backgrounds and experiences. Having a diverse workplace is always immensely valuable because they bring new perspectives to the table with unique insights from different cultures.

Carousell’s culture is centred around our five core values: putting the company mission first, caring deeply, focussing on problem-solving, being relentlessly resourceful, and staying humble. Our mission is really to inspire everyone in the world to start selling, because this will help people let go of things they don’t use anymore and move on to have more meaningful experiences.

We have a young team that wants to make a meaningful impact, whether it’s in fulfilling business objectives or touching the lives of the wider community. Our culture and values help keep us focussed on this mission. As we celebrate the inspirational stories that come from our community, our values help ground us and remind us that what we do can really make an impact.

How fast did Carousell expand? Did you have any issues with catering to the influx of new colleagues?

We’ve been investing in talent steadily over the past five years as we needed the right people to deliver the products and features we wanted. While our team might be fairly young, we know that experience is the key to global success.

In the last three years, we’ve hired very talented senior leadership — like Jia Jih Chai from AirBnB, Rakesh Malani from Komli Media, Andrius Baranauskas from Vinted, Winnie Khoo from PropertyGuru, and Jordan Dea-Mattson who has worked in Apple, Adobe and Yahoo.

We recognise that communicating and aligning everyone to our company mission is going to be challenging as we grow, so we make it a point to hold an organisation-wide meeting every Friday called Family Friday. We’ve held these meetings since the very start when we had less than 10 people on the team, and it’s our platform to share important business updates and give teams a chance to talk about the projects they’re working on. Our colleagues even have some time to speak about topics they’re passionate about. Family Friday is important to us because it puts everyone on the same page with where the company is headed, which is especially important since Carousell is growing so fast.

Keppel Towers has been home for a few months now, have you made any changes or new additions to the current space?

We’re very lucky to be in Keppel Towers! Carousell occupies two floors here. The 11th floor is our main workspace and is where all our desks are situated. We’ve remodelled the 12th floor into a collaborative space with an open pantry and meeting rooms.

We worked with an interior designer on the bigger parts of the remodelling (like the layout, electrical wiring and carpentry) but all the decorations and furnishings were sourced by our “New Office Design” team: Davina (Head of Design) and Felicia (Marketplace Operations). We even bought quite a fair bit of our furniture on Carousell!

Some of our meeting rooms are a reference to our earliest Carousell community stories, and serve as reminders of what our company goals are.

How does the team like the new space? What’s the most surprising thing about the new Carousell Office?

We currently have around seven meeting rooms and many more quiet rooms — which is a luxury compared to the three meeting rooms we had in our last office. All our meeting rooms are wired with Google Chromebox which has made it so much easier to speak with our regional teams every day.

What’s Carousell’s “workplace of tomorrow” like? What do you envision?

I envision the workplace to be a space where people can be absolutely focussed on our company’s mission, without having to worry about rules and dress codes. The office should have a fun and pleasant atmosphere so people can look forward to going to work every day. It should ultimately be a place where people can truly grow, learn and make a meaningful impact.

 

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