How Does Carousell Make Money? The Carousell Business Model In A Nutshell

  • Carousell is a smartphone and web-based C2C and B2C platform founded in Singapore by Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan. After the trio completed an internship in Silicon Valley, they became inspired by leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey.
  • Carousell makes money by connecting buyers and sellers and then acting as a mediator, advertiser, and payment facilitator. Advertising is the biggest source of income, with sellers bidding to occupy high visibility spots using in-app currency Carousell Coins.
  • Carousell charges sellers a listing fee for products in high-value categories. It also sells subscription plans to sellers giving them access to higher product quotas and business analytics, among other perks.

The History of Carousell

Carousell is a smartphone and web-based C2C and B2C multinational company headquartered in Singapore.

The company was founded in 2012 by Quek Siu Rui, Lucas Ngoo, and Marcus Tan after the trio attended an internship in Silicon Valley.

There, they became inspired by leaders such as Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey who preached the importance of mission-oriented companies.

The former college friends were also encouraged to think about how technology could be used to solve big problems.

Quek took this notion and ran with it, envisioning a platform that simplified online buying and selling.

Importantly, the platform also needed to be aligned with Carousell’s broader mission to “inspire every person in the world to start selling.

The Carousell iOS app was launched in August 2012 with the Android version following in January the following year.

To gain traction, the founders visited mom-and-pop stores in person and convinced them to sell on their platform. In November 2013, Carousell secured around $800,000 in angel funding.

Less than three years later, Carousell was operating in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Indonesia.

This coincided with the eCommerce boom in Southeast Asia and several acquisitions, which enabled the platform to grow rapidly.

Recent data on company performance is hard to come by. However, two years ago the company was operating in 40 countries and claimed to be reaching over 350 million users each month.

Carousell revenue generation

Carousell utilizes a marketplace business model like many of its peers, with listing, advertising, and payment facilitation fees commonplace. 

The company essentially connects buyers and sellers and then acts as a mediator and payment facilitator.

Below is a look at each revenue stream in more detail.


According to Carousell, its main source of income are three advertising packages it offers to product sellers and various brands.

These are used to drive traffic to product listings, grow reach, and increase views through enhanced visibility. 

Advertisement pricing depends on the niche, location, and existing competition for the product being promoted. 

Each of the three packages can be purchased with the in-app currency Carousell Coins. Discounts are offered to sellers who buy coins in bulk.

Listing fees

The first listing for a seller is free, but certain high-value categories like properties and automobiles will attract a listing fee.

In general, listing fees vary by country, category, and the length of time a product is listed. These fees can also be paid with Carousell Coins.

Carousell for Business

Carousell for Business, or CarouBiz for short, is a suite of premium tools offered to sellers on a subscription basis.

Prices for four different subscription plans vary according to country and the product listing quota.

As an example, the prices for Singaporean sellers are as follows:

  1. Starter CarouBiz ($9.98/month) – with a quota of 20 or more products able to be sold simultaneously. 
  2. Growing CarouBiz ($29.98/month) – with a quota of 120 or more products. Sellers choosing this plan and all subsequent plans also get access to a premium seller badge and business analytics. 
  3. Pro CarouBiz ($69.98/month) – for those wanting to sell more than 470 products.
  4. Super CarouBiz ($99.98/month) – offering a quota of at least 1,970 products.

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Related Business Model Types

Platform Business Model

A platform business model generates value by enabling interactions between people, groups, and users by leveraging network effects. Platform business models usually comprise two sides: supply and demand. Kicking off the interactions between those two sides is one of the crucial elements for a platform business model success.

Marketplace Business Model

A marketplace is a platform where buyers and sellers interact and transact. The platform acts as a marketplace that will generate revenues in fees from one or all the parties involved in the transaction. Usually, marketplaces can be classified in several ways, like those selling services vs. products or those connecting buyers and sellers at B2B, B2C, or C2C level. And those marketplaces connecting two core players, or more.

Network Effects

A network effect is a phenomenon in which as more people or users join a platform, the more the value of the service offered by the platform improves for those joining afterward.

Asymmetric Business Models

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus have a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility.

Attention Merchant Business Model

In an asymmetric business model, the organization doesn’t monetize the user directly, but it leverages the data users provide coupled with technology, thus having a key customer pay to sustain the core asset. For example, Google makes money by leveraging users’ data, combined with its algorithms sold to advertisers for visibility. This is how attention merchants make monetize their business models.

Wholesale Business Model

The wholesale model is a selling model where wholesalers sell their products in bulk to a retailer at a discounted price. The retailer then on-sells the products to consumers at a higher price. In the wholesale model, a wholesaler sells products in bulk to retail outlets for onward sale. Occasionally, the wholesaler sells direct to the consumer, with supermarket giant Costco the most obvious example.

Retail Business Model

A retail business model follows a direct-to-consumer approach, also called B2C, where the company sells directly to final customers a processed/finished product. This implies a business model that is mostly local-based, it carries higher margins, but also higher costs and distribution risks.


A B2B2C is a particular kind of business model where a company, rather than accessing the consumer market directly, it does that via another business. Yet the final consumers will recognize the brand or the service provided by the B2B2C. The company offering the service might gain direct access to consumers over time.

Crowdsourcing Business Model

The term “crowdsourcing” was first coined by Wired Magazine editor Jeff Howe in a 2006 article titled Rise of Crowdsourcing. Though the practice has existed in some form or another for centuries, it rose to prominence when eCommerce, social media, and smartphone culture began to emerge. Crowdsourcing is the act of obtaining knowledge, goods, services, or opinions from a group of people. These people submit information via social media, smartphone apps, or dedicated crowdsourcing platforms.

Open-Core Business Model

While the term has been coined by Andrew Lampitt, open-core is an evolution of open-source. Where a core part of the software/platform is offered for free, while on top of it are built premium features or add-ons, which get monetized by the corporation who developed the software/platform. An example of the GitLab open core model, where the hosted service is free and open, while the software is closed.

Open Source vs. Freemium

Open source is licensed and usually developed and maintained by a community of independent developers. While the freemium is developed in-house. Thus the freemium give the company that developed it, full control over its distribution. In an open-source model, the for-profit company has to distribute its premium version per its open-source licensing model.

Freemium Business Model

The freemium – unless the whole organization is aligned around it – is a growth strategy rather than a business model. A free service is provided to a majority of users, while a small percentage of those users convert into paying customers through the sales funnel. Free users will help spread the brand through word of mouth.

Freeterprise Business Model

A freeterprise is a combination of free and enterprise where free professional accounts are driven into the funnel through the free product. As the opportunity is identified the company assigns the free account to a salesperson within the organization (inside sales or fields sales) to convert that into a B2B/enterprise account.

Franchising Business Model

In a franchained business model (a short-term chain, long-term franchise) model, the company deliberately launched its operations by keeping tight ownership on the main assets, while those are established, thus choosing a chain model. Once operations are running and established, the company divests its ownership and opts instead for a franchising model.

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