App fab

App fab
Carousell (a digital flea market) co-founders (from left) Lucas Ngoo, Quek Siu Rui and Marcus Tan at their Ayer Rajah office. The three friends were helped in their start-up by a $7,000 ideation grant from NUS Enterprise.

A Singapore-made phone application is getting ready to take on big boys like Craigslist and eBay.

Just over a week ago, Carousell made headlines when it secured a cool million dollars in a seed funding round led by Rakuten - the world's third-largest ecommerce company.

"We are very encouraged. A year ago, we never thought something like this would happen," says Mr Quek Siu Rui, 25, one of the co-founders of Carousell.

The app is a mobile marketplace that lets users buy and sell items within Singapore. Users can post listings, upload photos, and follow their favourite sellers.

It all started, rather ironically, out of sheer frustration when Mr Quek tried to sell an old Apple laptop through a website.

"But it was tedious and troublesome to get it listed on the sites last year. The interfaces were very text-heavy, and uploading a photo took forever."

So the Singaporean, who holds a degree in business administration from the National University of Singapore (NUS), went on to develop his own prototype - one that was simple to use and visually appealing.

He worked with a friend, Mr Lucas Ngoo, 25, who has a degree in computer engineering, and they proposed the idea at a Startup Weekend competition organised by a group of students from the NUS Overseas Colleges Alumni last March. It beat 40 other ideas to take the top prize, winning them free office space for several months.

Convinced of the app's potential, Mr Quek turned down a job at a Silicon Valley company - where he had interned - to continue working on Carousell.

Initially, his parents were not supportive. At dinner one night, he told them that he wouldn't be able to contribute financially to the family for a few years.

"They were shocked," says the younger of two sons.

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