I remember selling my old Mitsubishi Lancer GLX one morning on a buy and sell platform 7 or 8 years ago. After creating a profile and composing my ad details, the minute I hit the “submit” button to publish my ad, my phone started ringing and inquiries were just non-stop. The name of the platform was OLX.ph. Before it was called OLX.ph, it was known to millions of Filipinos as Sulit.com.ph.
Arianne Rose David, or better known as Arianne, co-founded Sulit.com.ph, an online buy and sell platform which became a household name in the Philippines. Like all successes, Sulit had a “what if” backstory. She initially came up with the idea of creating a classifieds website as an experiment back in 2006. With a starting capital of US$50 (Php 2,500 or even less back in the day), Arianne and RJ built an online classifieds site that forever changed the buy and sell landscape of the Philippines.
Because of Sulit’s success, and as mentioned, it eventually became OLX.ph. The rebranding was a result of a partnership with OLX (which stands for Online Exchange), an international company that hosts free user-generated classified advertisements. OLX has a presence in more than 100 countries; Brazil, India, Portugal to name a few.
To date, OLX.ph is now called Carousell.ph. There’s just no stopping Arianne in playing the classifieds platform game. On top of Carousell, Arianne has co-founded yet another startup called Innovation Love.
Who is Arianne, as Founder of Innovation Love? What does she believe in when it comes to marketing and business?
Arianne David, co-founded Innovation Love with her husband and 3 former tech engineers of OLX.ph. She’s mainly responsible for People Operations focusing on employee happiness, team engagement, and organisational culture development.
When it comes to marketing and business, Arianne believes that business is all about people. Creating a diverse and engaged team that is grounded on achieving the common mission and goals have been a turning point to our successes. Living up to what you really stand for sparks “togetherness”, “loyalty” and “dedication”. When you do this, it naturally engages the team to become brand ambassadors of your business value and purpose to the world – free and authentic marketing.
Before Innovation Love, you started with Sulit.com.ph which eventually became OLX.ph. What was your journey like to get where you are today?
In one brainstorming session, I suggested to my husband, RJ, to create an online classifieds site as an experiment. We began launching a classifieds site with a thought of figuring out what category will be most popular. When we realised that each category proved to grow steadily, we decided to push through with classifieds format altogether. From that moment, we began the journey with Sulit.com.ph.
With a starting capital of PHP2,400 (US$50), we wore many hats during the startup phase of the company. While RJ was the developer and server administrator, I handled the design and quality assurance of the site. I shared the task of customer service and marketing with RJ by answering customer inquiries and attending trade shows.
In 2008, Sulit.com.ph reached a big company milestone. It became the most visited local website in the country. As Sulit.com.ph continued to make a name for itself in the industry, the team set its sight on becoming a full-fledged company. Once Sulit.com.ph became the top local website in the Philippines, investors took notice. In 2014, it became part of the world’s biggest name in online classifieds, OLX. This year, OLX Philippines (now Carousell.ph) is celebrating 13 years of genuine commitment and winning together with the local buy and sell community.
Tell us more about your company, Innovation Love. Describe that a-ha moment when you knew your company might actually become a success.
Innovation Love was founded together with RJ (Arianne’s husband) and former OLX.ph colleagues Justin, Eric, and Arpee in 2018. Innovation Love (a play on “Innovation Lab”), is a technology startup company with a goal of developing homegrown ideas into human-centric technology solutions that offer a simple yet meaningful experience for millions of Filipino users whoever or wherever they are.
For a decade, we dedicated our time and energy to changing the e-commerce landscape in the Philippines. We empowered millions of Filipinos to buy and sell online. The trust and confidence we built among our customers are what drive us to pursue Innovation Love. Given the industry leadership experience, we believe that we can do this again.
Businesses all over the world are greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. What adjustments are you currently making amidst this global health crisis?
With the evolving online innovation tools and continuous shifting of work into a more flexible workspace, the Innovation Love team was able to quickly adapt to the work-from-home setup. Working remotely is part of the team benefits. The team is given a leeway to work wherever they are and whenever they want. At first, we have seen low productivity but eventually, the team has adjusted to the setup well. Thanks to the internet and innovation.
What is the best business or marketing advice that you can give to someone who is just starting out?
Trust the team and set a meaningful purpose (your big WHY). Starting a new company is not easy but I find it fun and exciting, particularly if you have a highly engaged team that is well-aligned and inspired to make your purpose happen. And whenever you are facing any challenges and you feel like you are giving up, always go back to your “why”. Revisit your purpose as a company. Doing this exercise will motivate the team over again.
When it’s all over, how would you like to be remembered?
The team that has created a lot of value to millions of Filipinos and has helped in shaping the online industry through technology and innovation.