Mobile Marketplace Carousell Raises $6M Series A Led By Sequoia Capital

Carousell, a mobile app marketplace that lets sellers upload items with a few taps on their smartphones, has raised $6 million in Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital. The Singaporean startup’s existing investors, Rakuten Ventures, Golden Gate Ventures, 500 Startups, and serial entrepreneur Darius Cheung, also returned for this round, which brings Carousell’s total raised so far to $6.8 million.

TechCrunch profiled the company last year, when it raised a seed round led by Rakuten Ventures.

The company plans to hire more growth and web engineers to support its expansion into Indonesia, Malaysia, and Taiwan. Eventually, Carousell’s founders hope to take it further into the Asia-Pacific region.

“In Taiwan, users are already used to buying peer-to-peer on existing desktop platforms, but there is still a gap in mobile. We took a trip there recently and realized we need to make a move immediately. Malaysia is similar and it is just across the border from us,” says co-founder and CEO Siu Rui Quek. “We made the decision with a few markets, but we also have global ambitions. I would say that in the larger APAC region, markets that could be interesting are Australia, New Zealand, and even Hong Kong.”

Carousell has held the number one shopping app spot in Singapore’s iOS App Store since June. It launched in 2012 and founder Siu Rui Quek says that over 8 million listings have been created. Two million transactions have been successfully completed, and the app now sees an average of eight transactions closing every minute.

Of course, the rapid growth of any new peer-to-peer network comes with some downsides. Carousell already has its own active parody Tumblr called “Carouhell,” which chronicles the misadventures of users as they deal with flaky (or just plain nutty) sellers and buyers.

Quek says he finds the Tumblr funny (“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”), but adds that Carousell will be adding several moderation tools as it scales up. As the startup’s team grows, they will be able to delete fraudulent users and trolls more quickly, and improve its feedback system.

As Carousell expands, it will also have to deal with continuing competition from online classified sites, marketplaces, and forums, as well as Facebook Groups and Instagram, where many people make informal transactions. The team says they will test out new strategies in different markets, including desktop-first platforms, and try to win over users with Carousell’s ease of use.

To use the app, sellers take pictures of their item, clean them up with Carousell’s photo-editing features, write a few details, and then list them for sale. They communicate with potential buyers through the app’s private messaging system.

Carousell is still exploring monetization strategies, but potential sources of revenue include premium features for sellers, including extra photos and management features for vendors who list hundreds of orders. Though most sellers are individuals who want to get rid of used or unwanted items, small businesses and brick-and-mortar stores have also begun using Carousell, says Quek, giving the startup a chance to tap into the SMB market.

In a statement, Shailendra Singh, managing director of Sequoia Capital India Advisors, said “Carousell is one of the most exciting young companies we have encountered recently. The company has grown with practically no marketing to become a leading destination for consumers to buy and sell goods across all categories. Tens of thousands of of products are listed and sold on Carousell everyday by consumers.”