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Gold Stevie Award Winner 2013, Click to Enter The 2014 Steve Awards for Women in Business

Company: RedBalloon, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Company Division/Group: RedBalloon
Company Description: RedBalloon is an online experience gift retailer. They pioneered experiential gifting in Australia and New Zealand and have delivered almost 2 million experiences to consumers and businesses since being founded in 2001. The business now provides more than 3,000 experiences in every state across Australia, with close to 1,000 suppliers and is powered by a team of more than 60 employees
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Company of the Year – Consumer Services – More Than 10 Employees

Nomination Title: RedBalloon: online experience retailer

Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated organization since the beginning of July last year (up to 525 words):

The Cloud

RedBalloon was one of the first Australian businesses to implement the Amazon Web Services Cloud computing platform in July 2012 as part of a major digital overhaul. The company was previous relying on 17 servers housed at a local data center and needed many more to continue its growth and to build a new service-oriented architecture. Buying more on-premise servers was cost-prohibitive so they opted to start from scratch entirely in the Cloud. Today, the RedBalloon platform features over 150 servers in the Cloud, which cost the same as the previous 17. Almost the entire RedBalloon business now runs from the cloud – including website, fulfillment, ERP and CRM - delivering a faster return on investment with a lot less risk to the business and the customer experience. The intuitive model also sees more than 100 of their servers automatically shut down overnight when not in operation; delivering flexibility, scale and a significant cost saving to RedBalloon every day.

BRW Great Places to Work

In June 2013 the 50 Best Places to Work in Australia were named. RedBalloon is one of only nine companies to make the list every year, coming in at number eight this year in their best ever ranking. RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan said the result was an accurate reflection of the businesses ongoing commitment to creating a great employee experience. “Our commitment to our people is number one for us. Each new person we welcome into the RedBalloon family is contributing in their own way to our amazing culture. There’s no secret sauce when it comes to being a great place to work – for us it’s all about knowing our people, hiring people who live and breathe our values, and showing appreciation to those people for fulfilling on that promise.

Strong Financial Growth

In Financial Year 2012, the 12-year-old company hit 40 per cent growth in total transaction value, demonstrating there is still very strong growth in Australian online retail. Christmas 2012 saw the business experience a transaction every 3.3 seconds. RedBalloon is well on track to becoming a$50 million business by 2015, and has now delivered two million experiences to customers.

Board Appointment

RedBalloon welcomed Richard England (Chairman) and Atlassian Founder Scott Farquhar (Non-Executive Director) to their Board in February 2013. The establishment of an experienced Board with external perspective is set to drive the business further on its growth trajectory, as they aim to cement themselves as the top online destination for gifts. RedBalloon CEO Kristie Buchanan said both appointments were part of the latest evolution for the maturing business, which has seen continued strong growth despite the pressures and changes facing the retail industry. “Richard and Scott will bring an added level of constructive and external rigor to our operation,” Ms Buchanan said. “Richard is a seasoned Chairman with a strong accounting background, and we expect him to lead robust discussions around how we maintain and drive our retail leader status. And as the co-founder of one of Australia’s most innovative and successful export technology companies, we believe Scott will help challenge us as we navigate the ever-changing world of online retail.”

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated company (up to 125 words):

Kristie Buchanan joined RedBalloon in 2008 as Marketing Manager, overseeing milestones including the company’s first TV commercial, their first steps into offline retail and unprecedented consumer revenue growth of over 60% in FY2011. Her marketing acumen and passion for people management led to her promotion to CEO in 2012, since steering the business to a further 40% transactional growth during the 2013 Financial Year, a highlight of which was Christmas Eve where a transaction was being made on the site every 3.3 seconds. Kristie’s commitment to living the RedBalloon values – integrity, generosity, leadership, sense of humor and fun and being a little dog with a big dog personality – and her strategic prowess, ensure the unwavering support of both the RedBalloon Board and employees.

The CEO (or other principal manager) of this company is a woman, and at least 40% of the management team is comprised of women.