Alec and Fabrice weren’t just bright-eyed idealistic entrepreneurs – they had the credentials to create something significant. Alec had just sold his tech company Deremate in Argentina, and Fabrice had been CEO of Zingy in France. Over the years both were inspired and had nearly joined a little company called eBay.
Their hike through the valleys of southern Argentina happened in 2005. By March 2006 they had a beta version of OLX up and running. The results were positive enough to incorporate in June of the same year. From the moment the site went live turning a profit and making a differences co-existed in their founders’ minds, though during the hectic realities of the start-up stage rapid growth took centre stage. eBay may have inspired them, but they were always intent on creating something even bigger and more socially significant than that.
In terms of ‘something bigger’, OLX grew beyond their wildest expectations. Today the free online classifieds platform is one of the world largest internet brands, with over 300 million monthly users across 45 countries generating traffic of over 28 billion monthly page views (or around 360 million page views per day). The group employs 2000+ passionate and committed people across 25 offices in Buenos Aires, Delhi, Lisbon, Poznan, Jakarta and Manila.
In terms of achieving something ‘more significant’, Alec and Fabrice never lost site of their mission to build a purpose-driven company that improves people’s lives by bringing them together for win-win exchanges. Every day millions of people across the globe use OLX to buy and sell goods and cars, find a job or rent a house. By providing highly vibrant local market places to regions around the world, OLX empowers local communities by turning their used goods into new opportunities. OLX actively creates renewable and sustainable economies in developing countries that need it most.
The real growth of OLX as a global brand started in August 2010 when Naspers, the South African media conglomerate, acquired a 67.8% share in OLX.inc. (Naspers has subsequently raised its stakes to 95%). In its mission to transform OLX into the world’s largest brand for consumer-to-consumer (C2C) trade, Naspers consolidated its online classified services in the Philippines (Sluit), Thailand (Dealfish), Poland (Tablica), Bulgaria (Prodovalnik), Romania (Allegro) and Indonesia (Tokobagus) and re-branded them as OLX.
Fabrice has since left OLX to pursue new adventures. Alec, however, is still actively involved in the business. The passion and purpose that was born in the valleys of El Calafate, Argentina still sits at the heart of his business. Helping making people richer by releasing capital tied up in the objects lying around their homes, and making objects available to everyone in a more affordable way. As OLX continues to grow, so will its ability to deliver on its original promise: to create a richer world.
Not bad for a story that begins far from the suburbs of Silicon Valley, right?