Skip to main content

In the landscape of Aussie entrepreneurship, few stories captivate us like Naomi Simson’s.

You may know Naomi Simson from Shark Tank, as the “Red Shark,” but she initially gained success for the vision she had behind RedBalloon. Her journey started with humble beginnings as an office worker, and she went on to build one of Australia’s most iconic small business success stories. Naomi Simson’s journey is a testament to perseverance, innovation and unwavering passion – read on to discover how she did it!

The beginning of RedBalloon

Naomi’s story is rooted in a deep entrepreneurial spirit that began long before the inception of RedBalloon. With a background in corporate marketing and advertising, she developed skills in understanding consumer behaviour and market dynamics. While working in the corporate world, Naomi discovered her opinion on how workplaces were managed was different to what she thought would be ideal. That, paired with her innate desire to create something meaningful and impactful, ultimately propelled her towards entrepreneurship.

naomi simson red balloon

The idea for RedBalloon was born out of Naomi’s realisation that traditional gift-giving lacked the personal touch and emotional resonance she craved. Inspired by the concept of gifting experiences, she envisioned a platform where people could gift unforgettable experiences rather than material possessions. Thus, in 2001, RedBalloon was born, offering a diverse range of experiences ranging from hot air ballooning to gourmet dining adventures.

red balloon

RedBallon’s success

One of the key factors in RedBalloon’s success was Naomi Simson’s relentless focus on customer experience. Understanding the importance of delivering exceptional service and memorable moments, she prioritised building strong relationships with both customers and suppliers of experiences. This customer-centric approach made booking experiences simple and streamlined.

Today, RedBalloon stands as a shining example of entrepreneurial success, having facilitated millions of unforgettable experiences, and cemented its status as a household name. Yet, amidst the accolades and achievements, Naomi remains grounded, guided by her enduring commitment to making a positive impact on people’s lives.

The Big Red Group

In 2017, Simson co-founded the Big Red Group, with business partner David Anderson. Simson now has a monopoly in the industry with the Big Red Group, owning not only RedBalloon, but also owning Adrenaline and Experience Oz. Through her commitment to fostering a vibrant company culture and providing the best experiences Australia-wide, the Big Red Group continues to thrive and redefine the realm of experiential commerce.

Podcasts, books and Shark Tank

As RedBalloon continued to thrive, Naomi emerged as a notable figure in the Australian business community, earning acclaim for her entrepreneurial accomplishments. Her success with RedBalloon led to her being dubbed the “Red Shark.” She joined the Australian Shark Tank panel in 2014, imparting her wisdom on the show and sharing insights into small business success. Simson’s insights and business acumen quickly made her a formidable force amongst the Sharks. She starred on the Australian Shark Tank for all four seasons.

Simson continued to leverage her success to champion small businesses, emphasising the significance of innovation, diversity, and resilience in the ever-evolving marketplace. She shared her insights in her books “Live What You Love,” released in 2015, and “Ready to Soar,” published in 2016.

naomi simson ready to soar

Over the last two years, Naomi Simson has hosted her very own business podcast called “Handpicked,” where she mentors listeners and educates small business owners on how they can grow their business. She even takes questions from her listeners that she answers in the podcast, with like-minded successful entrepreneurs she welcomes to the show.

In a world where success is often equated with wealth and fame, Naomi Simson’s journey reminds us that true success is measured not only by financial gain, but by the lives we touch and the legacy we leave behind. As aspiring entrepreneurs navigate their own paths, they can draw inspiration from Naomi’s story, embracing the spirit of innovation, resilience, and unwavering passion that defines her remarkable journey.

Feeling inspired? Discover more about small business at our blog, and start your free 14-day trial here.