Smart50 Awards 2018

43 Yellow Octopus

Revenue

$3.05 million

Growth

73.3%

Founder

Derek Sheen (33)

Head Office

Moorabbin, Victoria

Employees

8

Industry

Retail and consumer products

Website

yellowoctopus.com.au

Like name like business, online gift retailer Yellow Octopus has built its success off the sale of quirky and fun gadgets, born from founder Derek Sheen’s love for them which developed into a legitimate business in 2013.

Selling things from bacon-flavoured toothpaste, to the world’s largest wine glass, to a $200,000 personal submarine, Yellow Octopus has achieved 73% revenue growth over the last three years, with a revenue of $3 million in the last financial year.

Having also appeared on last year’s Smart50 list, Sheen’s business has seemingly been thriving for some time, though the founder says it hasn’t been without its fair share of struggles.

One such struggle nearly spelt complete ruin for the business, which in 2015 was still a small operation attempting to rise above the numerous other online gift retailers in the market.

At the start of October that year, the business found itself suddenly completely de-indexed from Google after an SEO firm the company had employed unknowingly used “rogue tactics” which breached Google’s guidelines.

“With organic search making up around 50% of our traffic, this was very serious issue. We procured a number of quotes from specialists that deal with these problems and we were told the earliest possible solution would take three months, with many suggesting up to six months,” Sheen says.

“Missing those sales during the Christmas period would be enough to bring the business to its knees.”

Knowing this wasn’t an option, Sheen recruited his entire team to work around the clock to complete a full backlink audit of the website, contact the webmasters of all domains hosting toxic links, and submit a re-index request with Google. This flurry of work resulted in the business being re-indexed in just 13 days.

“Sure, we lost revenue, but it could have been a whole lot worse. Digital marketing agencies we’ve spoken to since have never heard of a successful re-index taking such a short period of time,” Sheen says.

“This challenge was a real litmus test for us as a group and was a defining moment for the business.”

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