Ideas Lunch Series – Alumni Online Sharing: Creating a Market at Your Fingertips

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On April 23, HKUST Business invited MSc IM alumnus William Ip, Managing Director of Carousell Hong Kong to the inaugural Ideas Lunch Series – an online lunchtime chit-chat and sharing session featuring successful alumni from different industries, moderated by Prof Sophie Fan, Assistant Professor from the Department of Marketing.

This sharing from William had come at the right time. Carousell is one of the fastest growing online classifieds marketplaces in Asia. With a huge user base and easy-to-use tools, the Carousell platform creates endless possibilities for local communities to continue to thrive amid the steadily changing landscape of e-commerce and beyond.

With years of experience running tech companies including PayPal Hong Kong and CISCO, William has his own unique views on strategy. He believes that strategies should be formulated with flexible balance, for example growth vs. profitability, planning vs. execution. He also shared useful tips on maintaining employee motivation and achieving ‘grand’ goals.

One of Carousell’s milestones is to become the preferred app for a consumer’s product and services needs and an integral part of their day-to-day lives. The classifieds marketplace has seen a success with continued efforts to expand categories and improve user experiences. According to Similarweb, a traffic analysis and ranking company, Carousell has become one of the most popular mobile classifieds apps among Hong Kong consumers. On the community side, Carousell is offering free ads to NGOs to increase traffic and branding impact, as part of supporting meaningful causes.

William points out that in the near future the key for online retail industry is to stay agile and flexible, as well as being sensitive to opportunities that foster online solutions. The next question would be to expand their reach.

Responding to questions on how does he know if he has made the right decisions, William answers with his signature humor and wit. “The honest answer is you never know… In business, I leave that question to historians. Our team just pour our hearts and efforts into the work we deem is right at that particular moment.”

On career advice, William says, “The key is to identify your own strengths and weaknesses. The even more important thing is to embrace them, for this is the only way to find your next challenge.” William mentions that he is a strong believer of ‘leading’ instead of ‘managing’ people, and says “business leaders need to rely on people to do things that they have no idea about and to motivate the team. It takes a lot of time and dedication.”

This online event attracted over 150 registrants and sparked very fruitful discussion about online marketplaces. Stay tuned for future events on the event page!