The Story of the Republic

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The beginnings of something great

Brothers Paul and Mike Ballantyne had long wanted to try a business together and in mid 2004 settled on the idea of online car rental and the company name iMall Brands. Paul did deals with local car rental suppliers, while Mike designed a website called “Fetch” on his Mac – and they commissioned a web company to build it.

The site went live, but despite spending a small fortune on Search Engine Optimisation, there were no signs of life. But a further $39.95 was all that was required. Mike bought ‘Google Adwords for Dummies,’ learned enough to buy Fetch into the top of the paid results, and the bookings started flowing. So much so, Mike left his job in advertising to handle the reservations, and Sue Neale who had been handling finances to date, decided to fold in her accountancy practice to focus on the growing e-commerce business.

Moving into the world of SEO

Starting to learn about e-commerce, but having no understanding of the website building process or how to get rankings, the brave decision was made to spend all the revenue to hire an expert. In came Mark von Nagy who rebuilt the site to be more search engine friendly and fired the SEO company that had delivered no results. All development shifted in house with the addition of talented programmers including Dmitry Ruban who built the original booking engine and Matej Drobnic who developed a website templating system.

iMall, now becoming a respected player in car rental in New Zealand, entered the motorhome category with immediate success, and then embarked on global expansion under Rohan Marx, adding supply and sites in over 100 countries around the world.

Growing from strength to strength

Next came cruises, captained by Ryan Posa, which gained incredible traction in a few months. Then most recently a search marketing agency run by ex-Googler Brad Guthrie.

As business went on, it was clear the name iMall was uninspiring and the vision had changed from the original internet mall concept. The directors elected a change of name to Online Republic in 2010 and here we are today.

Global player

With global websites and upwards of $200 million (NZD) in annual sales (TTV), Online Republic today is a leading player in car rental, motorhome rental and cruise bookings and has a growing reputation in search marketing.

A short history of our Republic

2004
2005
2008
2011
2013
2015
2016
2004

2004. The year a new republic is born.

In mid 2004, brothers Paul and Mike Ballantyne hatch an idea around taking niche marketing to the travel sector. They call the company iMall Brands and their first site specialising in car rental goes live in late 2004.

2005

With a successful car rental business building and a small team growing, the decision is made to create a motorhome rental booking website.  This launches in late 2005.

2008

Riding the wave of growing cruise popularity in Australaisa, we open our first cruise site. Cruisesalefinder.co.nz goes live in New Zealand in December 2009. A month later we launch cruisesalefinder.com.au into the Australian cruise market.

2011

It’s time for a name everyone can pronounce. We rebrand to Online Republic.

2013

With a growing number of highly talented e-commerce practitioners on board, we decide to share the love and launch Search Republic – a world class digital marketing consultancy.

2015

Our new events intelligence business PredictHQ launches. It’s a global events intelligence platform that aggregates, enriches and connects scheduled and real-time event data happening both locally and globally, then predicts which ones could impact your business.

2016
Webjet logo

Online Republic Group is acquired by Australasia’s leading OTA, Webjet. Onwards and upwards!

Fancy doing some time travel?

Take a look at our old site, play some spacies and listen to some music. WARNING - dust off your latest Flash plugin to view.