Leading online retailer Ozaroo was launched 10 years ago by young brothers Chris and Conor Martin from a wee Belfast bedroom. Their relentless passion for saving people money and obsession with world-class service led the brand to become one of the best-reviewed and fastest-growing retailers in the world. Year after year Ozaroo is named one of today's fastest-growing companies by Deloitte and the Financial Times.
Chris worked in part-time jobs from the age of 13 and throughout his teenage years and even ran a sweet shop from his locker at school. Fascinated with computers and the internet, he started selling some of his old games and hardware on eBay. He discovered a niche market where Australians wanted to save money on computer games by buying online from abroad.
Chris invested the few thousand pounds he had saved-up into a few ideas, starting the company and operating it from his bedroom while studying and still living at home. Successful from the outset, Chris' strategy was to continually reinvest profits into new brands and products, technology and ideas. His hobby rapidly grew into a small business through diversification of products and Conor, his 16-year old brother, soon stepped in to help.
"Being frugal and efficient is crucial," explains Chris. "We were brought up by our mum to not get into debt. We applied the same values to our business, not spending unnecessarily or taking-on debt. Our growth has been entirely organic; reinvesting profits back into the company."
What is the meaning of Ozaroo? The UK is now our largest customer-base, but we started by specialising in retail to Australia and dreamt-up the name to be memorable and stand out from the crowd. The 'oz' is derived from the abbreviation of Australia, and 'aroo' from Australia's national symbol, the kangaroo. Customers loved it, so we decided to stick with the memorable name.
Within a year the business had outgrown the bedroom and spare rooms. Increasing daily duties including picking, packing, buying, sales, marketing, and customer service led the brothers to convince their mother Brenda to leave her secure job to join the new business.
Reluctance to take on overheads was eventually overcome, moving to a small unit at a nearby business park. With no loans or grants, the brothers’ limited funds made it difficult to keep up with the growth and to find space for the increasing product ranges. Quickly outgrowing the first 5 premises, they soon upgraded to our current state-of-the-art distribution centre, creating new jobs with every expansion.
"I started the company to make some pocket-money while studying at university, so it's a dream to be able to offer careers to my family and other local people," says Chris. "We’re extremely grateful to have been recognised for our fast-growth by several independent organisations."
Ozaroo's expertise, experience, first-class service and value for money has attracted customers and brands in droves over the years, expanding from just a handful of products to tens of thousands, and sustaining growth at an award-winning pace every year.