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SmartCompany Web Awards 2013 - The Winners Revealed

Best company website (over 20 employees)

RedBubble

Winner: Redbubble.com

Judged by: Simon Goodrich, Portable

RedBubble is an online marketplace boasting unique product designs which are updated on a daily basis. Presenting an alternative to the “mass-producing hordes”, RedBubble has a variety of T-shirts and hoodies, iPhone cases and posters, along with a bunch of other items.

Launched in February 2007, it has gone on to be named as a BRW Fast 100 company and a Deloitte Fast 50 2012 winner.

It was founded by Martin Hosking, Paul Vanzella and Peter Styles and the business functions as a community hub for independent artists and creatives. The commercial aspect of the website developed as a natural by-product.

The website now boasts six million unique browsers per month – an increase of 4.5 monthly unique viewers in the past three years.

When starting out, founder Martin Hosking said the biggest challenge was developing multiple functions for the site.

“The biggest challenge for us when we started was that we were doing a lot. We were creating a marketplace, a community and a social network all at the same time. They were quite different pieces of technology and social commerce at this stage hadn’t really been thought of,” he said.

“We didn’t have the tools, we couldn’t just pick from a template off the shelf. That and the fact we were doing it globally and with multiple currencies from the get go.”

RedBubble’s philosophy underpinning its website is “honour the art”.

“Recognise it is at the heart of our brand and the user experience. Showcase it as well as we can. And then build a compelling browser experience so people get lost and engage with the artists and the art.”

RedBubble spent more than $1 million developing its website, but that’s certainly paid off. In the 2011-12 financial year it turned over almost $34 million.

Hosking’s best piece of advice when starting a website is to “know your customers”.

“Be clear about who your customers are. Some companies like Twitter aren’t clear from the outset and they can make it work, but this is unusual. Even Facebook when they launched had a clear target of college students,” Hosking said.

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