• “Launching felt like rapid fire compared to building from scratch.”

    Marketplace: The Octopus Club | Founder: Ana Rachel Estrougo

Ana Rachel Estrougo has bought her furniture and clothes second-hand for many years. But when she became a mother, she found it hard to buy quality items for her baby the same way. So she founded The Octopus Club: a preloved marketplace for parents.

Standing in her six-month-old baby’s nursery, Ana was struck by the sheer amount of stuff around her. Clothes, toys, gadgets, furniture – the list was endless.

And it was expensive stuff too. She’d spent hours researching and a small fortune buying it – all brand new, top-of-the-line products. Nothing but the best for her baby.

But it didn’t sit quite right with her. Ana had always been passionate about buying things preloved. Many of her own clothes and furniture were second-hand, but when she tried to buy used items for her baby, she was disappointed.

“I wanted to buy the best for my baby, but I didn’t always want to buy new: it wasn’t a sustainable option for the planet, my pocket, or my living room. But when I tried to buy secondhand, I couldn't find a place that felt trustworthy where I was sure things would arrive clean or that they had been well kept. There had to be a better way.”

The idea for The Octopus Club was born: an online marketplace for parents to buy and sell high-quality children’s clothing, toys, and accessories. A community of like-minded parents passing beloved items around.

The Octopus Club founder Ana and her son and a picture of several children's toys on a grey floor.
The Octopus Club founder Ana and her son

“I’m a graphic designer by trade, so I knew I wanted our platform to be beautiful,” Ana says. “We wanted to launch fast, but it had to look amazing from the start. We quickly decided working with a developer to build on Sharetribe Flex was the best way forward.”

Development was fast, and just five months later, in June 2020, Ana launched The Octopus Club.

“Launching in five months felt like rapid fire compared to building from scratch,” comments Ana. “Building it myself would have cost so much more. With Sharetribe, I knew I could launch quickly, get feedback, and then focus on making the platform better. I wanted it to be tested in real life by real people, as soon as possible.”

For that first year, The Octopus Club was a one-woman show. Marketing, customer care, social media, taking product pictures, seeding supply – Ana did it all herself.

It was a crazy year, but looking back, Ana reflects on the moment she knew The Octopus Club could be a success: “When people I didn’t know started buying and selling from each other, it was a very powerful experience. That’s when I realized I had a business.”

However, for The Octopus Club to grow, Ana knew she needed help. She launched a crowdfunding campaign and in 15 days, she reached her maximum target of £150,000 pre-revenue.

This was another emotional moment. Ana comments: “At that point, we didn’t have any revenue. For the first two years, we didn’t take a commission: we just wanted to make sure everyone who signed up had a great experience. So to know that investors could see the business potential – it was very powerful.”

"To know that investors could see the business potential – it was very powerful.”

Despite the funding, Ana has stuck to growing organically. Even today, The Octopus Club does little paid marketing, instead choosing to invest in building a better experience for their users.

Sharetribe has been an important part of that. “Working with Sharetribe has been great for us,” Ana explains. “We feel like Sharetribe really cares about our success; we’re always able to talk to a real person and get help when we need it.”

The sky's the limit for The Octopus Club. In early 2023, Ana raised additional funding from her existing investors. Her focus remains squarely on continuing to make it easy for parents to be more sustainable and do their bit.

There’s no doubt she’s found a better solution for her family and thousands like them.

“My son is four now, and 90% of his things are second-hand. He has a unique style and the best toys, all of which arrive at our home full of love from the previous family they belonged to.”

> Check out The Octopus Club

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