The journey of OLX in becoming the next Craigslist

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The company that goes by the tagline ‘Keemat bhi, Kuch keemti bhi’ or ‘Phone ko sell phone banao,’ OLX, is a global online marketplace. Most of us are oblivious to the fact that OLX is a portmanteau of OnLine Exchange. It is headquartered in Amsterdam and is owned by the South African media and technology group, Naspers.

OLX is strongly backed by Naspers which has experience in working with e-commerce giants The unique selling proposition of OLX is ‘Brand awareness and visibility. OLX caters to the needs of people with a meagre income. Its target group comprises of the people that are close-fisted or parsimonious and give a lot of thought before spending money.

Positioned as the company that facilitates the buying and selling of a plethora of products, OLX has built itself a niche in the startup scene around the world. It facilitates the buying and selling of products such as electronics, fashion items, furniture, household goods, cars, bikes, et cetera. Since its inception, it has grown in leaps and bounds.

The arresting advertisements that it uses to market itself have considerably added to its popularity among the television viewing audience. However, OLX is unsuccessful in reaching offline customers and has limited itself to Internet users. According to certain reports, OLX is a market leader in C2C business in India. It is spread in over more than 94 countries providing it with a massive learning curve.

The company’s website and application provide a prodigious range of products that a customer can choose from before deciding whether they want to buy it or not. The customer can then chat with the seller and haggle to settle on a price that is agreeable to both the parties.

If a person wants to sell a product on OLX, he or she must include all the details in the form provided on the website or application. This must be accompanied by a couple of photos of the product from different angles to give the buyers a better understanding of the product.

This is a very convenient way of selling the commodities that you do not need and helping someone out at the same time by providing that commodity for a cheaper and more affordable price.

OLX was founded by three people: Alec Oxenford, Fabrice Grinda, Jordi Castello. Alec Oxenford is an entrepreneur and art patron who co-founded OLX, one of the largest online classified marketplaces in the world, with 330 million users worldwide, and co-founded let go, a mobile classified ad app in the United States, which is 2017 had 75 million downloads and a $1 billion company valuation.

Alex hails from Argentina. He studied BBA at the Catholic University of Argentina and MBA at Harvard. He previously worked for the Boston Consulting Group and was the CEO of DeRemate.com, an online trading platform in Latin America, which was sold to eBay. He also co-founded DineroMail.com.

A 2014 article in Fortune Magazine characterized him as a “CEO rock star of sorts” in South America, known for his “staunch contrarianism”. Investopedia said in 2015 that he was one of the top 5 most successful entrepreneurs in Latin America.

Fabrice Grinda was born on 3rd August in 1974. He is a French entrepreneur, a blogger for Business Insider and an investor with more than 200 investments around the world, including Alibaba Group, Airbnb, Beepi, FanDuel, Palantir, and Windeln. Grinda has had $300 million in investment exits. He is the co-founder and former CEO of Aucland, Zingy, and OLX and is a frequent conference speaker on trends in technology, emerging markets, and investing.

He went to Princeton University for education and was awarded the Halbert White ’72 prize for most distinguished economics student and the Wolf Balleisen memorial prize for best economics thesis. His net worth is $100 million.

Jordi Castello is from Texas, United States. He has studied Business Administration from the Autonomous University of Barcelona.

Fabrice Grinda and Alec Oxenford started the company as a Craigslist alternative for the world outside of the United States.

In 2006, it acquired Mundoanuncio.com, a classifieds site targeting the Hispanic market and in 2007, it made an investment in a Chinese classifieds site, Edeng.cn. In 2008, its growth in the Philippines was attributed to its partnership with Friendster.

The company added “Web 2.0” features in 2008, such as social network widgets, improved search, Ajax-based editors, interactive maps and mobile versions.

In 2009, the company partnered with social network Hi5 which at the time had 60 million users. Hi5 implemented OLX features, such as displaying ads and sharing ads with friends and OLX enabled video, image and mobile features in 39 languages and 90 countries.[8]

In 2010, a majority of the company was acquired by the South African media group Naspers, which brought out the existing investors.

CEO Alec Oxenford said in a 2014 interview that OLX had deliberately launched in India, the largest available market, rather than in the United States. Naspers consolidated its online classified operations in the Philippines, Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Indonesia and re-branded them as OLX.

In 2014, OLX’s global traffic was 240 million unique monthly visits, 54% of which came from mobile.

In late 2016, it launched Tradus as a heavy machinery classifieds site. It lists used heavy machinery and vehicles and their spare parts, for construction, transport, and farming purposes.

OLX has raised a total of $28.5 million over five funding rounds.

The company raised $10 million in a Series A funding round on the 7th of September in 2007. In a Series B funding round, the startup raised $13.5 million on the 11th of April in 2008. Following that, it raised $5 million in a Series C funding round on the 7th of May in 2009.

Some money was raised in a Private Equity round on the 26th of August in 2010. Their latest funding was raised on September 1st, 2011 from a Venture – Series Unknown round.

According to Naspers’ annual report, OLX has 240 million monthly active users in over 40 countries across the world. It has over 5000 employees working under it. The company has more than 35 offices in over 40 countries.  It receives around 1.5 billion page views in a month, which gives a hint of its brand visibility in India. OLX has a strong positioning in the vehicle category with around 850 million page views a month.

The mobile application of OLX has been downloaded more than 50 million times on Play Store. According to Financial Express, the annual revenue of the company is approximately ₹58.7 crore.

The major competitors of the startup are Quickr, eBay, Flipkart, Amazon and Snapdeal.

Quikr is a free classified and online marketplace that helps users sell, buy, rent, or discover anything across India. It is headquartered in Bangalore, Karnataka. It was founded by Jiby Thomas and Pranay Chulet. With a total funding amount of $437.9 million, it has about 5000 employees.

eBay is an online marketplace that connects a global network of buyers and sellers. It is anchored in San Jose, California in the United States. It was founded by Pierre Omidyar. It has been estimated, 1000 employees.

One of the world’s biggest free online classifieds, OLX helps connect buyers and sellers for mutual benefits. It is a unique platform with an array of products to choose from. What’s more? They are all certified. There could not have been a more convenient way of selling products that you no longer need or buying good quality products at an affordable price.

Do you think the hassle that comes along with looking for buyers has mitigated because of OLX? Share your thoughts in the comments.

So, what are your thoughts on this story?
Tell us in the comments.

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Vasundhara Dhadiwal
I'm quite gauche, tbh. I despise texting abbreviations and Internet acronyms and the fact that I find myself guilty of using them every once in a while. I study mass communication and photography gets me by. I am as old school as they come. I devour books while a plate full of food is waiting to be eaten. Life is quite okay but I struggle with the in-betweens. I'm just a regular girl but I believe that I'm going to be a very big deal someday.

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