Where were you at 28?
While many of us can only dream of changing the world, Inanc Balci is already doing it. At 26, he co-founded South East Asia’s online retail tiger Lazada and now, at age 28, he sits as the Chief Executive Officer for Lazada Philippines.
On Being a young CEO
Balci, a Turkish raised in London, attended Purdue University in the U.S. with a double degree in Industrial Engineering and Economics. Afterwhich, he worked on mergers and acquisitions for an investment bank in London. While working for the investment bank, Balci saw the eminent potential in e-commerce which led him to join Rocket Internet and eventually co-found Lazada in Southeast Asia.
In the Philippines, Balci heads a pool of more than 300 employees, all of which he works very closely with. With an unabashed outlook, agile wit, and a laser-sharp eye for details, Balci perfectly fits the bill to lead a rapidly-growing online company.
Online Shopping in the Philippines
In a country where shopping malls are practically part of the fabric of the society, online shopping is something quite a number of Filipinos are unaccustomed to – there comes the perennial trust issue on using credit cards, the surprise surcharges, and unfortunately, the products not arriving at all. The malls in the Philippines, on the otherhand, have creatively articulated themselves to be not just shopping destinations but also as a means of recreation (i.e. be it the cinemas, the gaming zones, the restaurants, or as simple as the airconditioning they offer as a break from the raging tropical weather outdoors) – all of these were the issues that Balci had to dispel – and dispel he and his co-founders did. Lazada has made shopping quick, effortless, and risk-free to South East Asia and in the Philippines, this is the same principle that Balci is harping on to the Filipinos. How is this so?
First, Lazada accommodates all those shoppers without credit cards via its cash-on-delivery payment mode. This is essential given that not everyone has a credit card or is keen on sharing their credit card details to someone – or anyone for that matter. This makes online shopping risk-free for everyone. Being an archipelago of 7,100 islands, accessibility is always an issue – a significant portion of consumers doesn’t have time or access to visit the malls but with a minimum of PhP 1,000 purchase, Lazada offers free nationwide delivery, to customers anywhere in the Philippines, just log-in, shop, and the products will be delivered at the customer’s doorstep. Lastly, Lazada offers the flexibility of having the customers return the products within 30 days for free – provided that the products are in mint condition.
In a span of two years of being in the Philippines, Balci has steered Lazada to further heights and now with more than 40,000 SKUs, reaching 90% of the online population of the Philippines, and ranking as the 4th top Facebook brand in the country with a direct audience close to 2 Million. What the dot-com bubble holds for Lazada is still yet to be revealed, but one thing is for certain, Inanc Balci, the 28 year-old co-founder and CEO, is definitely changing the way Filipinos buy.