Ozaroo was launched from a bedroom in 2003 by brothers Chris & Conor Martin who wanted to prove that people don't need to shop with giant corporations to save money and enjoy world-class service.
The unique, goofy name was dreamt-up with the belief that passion and hard-work determine success, rather than words or names. Ozaroo has since won numerous awards and year after year is named one of today's fastest-growing companies by Deloitte and the Financial Times.
From humble roots in a working class area of Belfast, Chris worked in part-time jobs from the age of 13 and even ran a 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 by buying online from abroad.
Chris invested the few thousand pounds he had saved-up into a few ideas, operating the company from his bedroom while studying at Queen's University Belfast. 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 his brother Conor soon stepped in to help.
"Hard work and frugality are both ingrained in our DNA," explains Chris. "We had very little growing up and were brought up by our mum not to get into debt. We naturally applied these same values to our business, not spending unnecessarily or taking-on debt. Our growth has been purely organic."
The UK is now our largest market, but we started by retailing to Australia and came up with the name to stand-out from the crowd; the 'oz' derived from the abbreviation of Australia, and 'aroo' from the country's national symbol, the kangaroo.
Within a year the business had outgrown the bedroom and spare rooms. Increasing daily duties including picking, packing, 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 five 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.