Quirky startup Yellow Octopus soaring in sales

- January 20, 2014 2 MIN READ

Whether you’re looking for a banana slicer or an underwater submarine, Yellow Octopus has it all. Launched in August last year, Yellow Octopus is rapidly becoming the ‘go to’ marketplace for those who want something a little quirkier than the norm.

The story behind Yellow Octopus starts with two men, both with entrepreneurial aspirations and a keen interest in technology. At a networking event in Melbourne, their lives intertwined. A casual conversation turned into an innovative collaboration, and the result is now an online marketplace that sells fun, quirky and unusual products – from scrotum-shaped tea bags to camera-lens-shaped coffee mugs.

The creative brains behind Yellow Octopus are Russell Brooks and Derek Sheen. Soon after they came up with the idea for their startup, they started researching what products were being talked about on social media, and contacting suppliers who distributed these products.

It wasn’t long before they had a funky website and a functional business. Of course, they had to fork out $100,000 from their own hip pocket to make it all happen.

Soon after they launched in August last year, they experienced unprecedented growth. Brooks says in the Christmas period alone, they sold $150,000 worth of products.

“Having launched only a few months, we weren’t expecting the Christmas period to be as busy as it was. We outgrew ourselves,” says Brooks. “We had to move into a bigger warehouse to deal with large volume sales.”

The price of the products on the site starts from just a few dollars, and goes right up to over $2 million. Brooks says the most expensive item they’ve sold to date is the Quadcopter for $850.

Though they don’t mind being known as a quirky online marketplace, Brooks believes Yellow Octopus will organically grow into something different: “I want us to be known as the go to place for companies who want to get their products into the Australia market.”

“There are a lot of cool products coming out in America and it would great for us to be at the forefront of that, so companies come to us when they want to expand their business internationally.”

What differentiates Yellow Octopus from other online marketplaces, Brooks says, is their customer service.

“We bend over backwards for our customers. There’ve been some occasions where a customer needed something urgently, but that product was out of sock. So we did our research and found that product elsewhere and delivered it to customer before the deadline,” says Brooks.

The Yellow Octopus team also likes to show customers their appreciation through small gestures like a ‘Thank You’ note inside every delivery package, along with an Octopus-shaped stress ball as a complimentary gift.

“Customer service is a difficult area for businesses. But we found that small things make a big difference. Customers are very attentive and appreciate kind gestures,” says Brooks.

Take a tour of Yellow Octopus via www.yellowoctopus.com.au.