Smart50 Rank: 50
Revenue: $51.9 million
Founders: Tony Nash, 52, Simon Nash and Steve Traurig
Head office: Lidcombe, NSW
Year founded: 2004
Industry: Retail and consumer products
The founders ofonline retailer Booktopia were introduced to the book industry when they were working on a job to improve the SEO on the website of iconic Australian bookseller Angus & Robertson.
In 2004, Booktopia was founded on a budget of $10 a day in a small office in North Sydney. Within three days, the fledgling online business had sold its first book; within three years it would have to lease a 450 square metre warehouse to keep up with demand.
Over the years since, increasingly bigger warehouse space has been needed to keep up with the growth of the business, which has seen 11 straight years of consistent 30-40% year-on-year sales growth.
In the past year, Booktopia revisited the past in a way, when it acquired online booksellers Angus & Robertson and Bookworld, along with Dirt Cheap Cameras, integrating both into the Booktopia group.
Booktopia co-founder Tony Nash says the most challenging part of this ongoing expansion has been making sure the growth of the business could be properly managed.
“The most challenging part was to not grow too quickly. To make sure we could fulfill people’s orders over 99% of the time and improve on the 1% that were not fulfilled well,” Nash says.
It has been this mantra of making sure the customer is satisfied that has led to Booktopia becoming one of Australia’s most successful online retailers. Nash estimates Booktopia sells an item every eight seconds and ships 4 million items a year.
“All of this with no external investment,” he says.
“We are the ultimate bootstrapped digital innovator having built all our own systems, website, algorithms ourselves out of generating cash from sales. Walking through our facility to see the integration of scanning, conveyors, automatic packing machines is testimony to the innovation that we have to do develop to go head-to-head to Amazon with sales for FY2016 on track to hit $90 million.”
Many people questioned the wisdom of Booktopia’s founders getting into the book trade, but Nash says the future looks very bright for the business, with a possible initial public offering on the horizon.
“Back in 2004 people said, why do you want to start a bookstore? You are too late,” Nash says.
“Now people say, ‘it is lucky you got in early’.”