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eBay entrepreneur millionaires – How world’s largest online shopping site changing business dynamics


22 August 2014 05:42 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


ho doesn’t love eBay – where you can find just about anything and everything. You can buy designer handbags, cutting-edge electronics and vintage watches with a click on your computer and have it delivered to your door step, yes to Colombo too.

If the parcel gets lost, eBay refunds you, no questions asked. The world’s most prolific commerce website, eBay is also the place where otherwise average people have benefitted from a chosen path of entrepreneurship. It is also where you can buy everything from a hair pin to a motor car.

Unique concept 

Alison Abruneiras’ story is a classic from rags-to-riches story. The mother-of-three from Lincoln turned to selling on eBay to divert attention from her cancer. She was unemployed and worried. She was a former nail technician but had to give up work when she found out she had cancer. Six years later, Nail & Beauty Emporium she started on eBay has buyers from all over the world and she wears the proud crown of an eBay entrepreneur.

The beauty of eBay is the fact that it is a unique concept where anything and everything finds a buyer; it is where Margaret Thatcher’s handbag sold for £ 103,000; Princess Beatrice’s much discussed royal wedding hat brought in over £ 80,000 for charity and movie star heartthrob Justin Timberlake’s half-eaten French toast went for a whopping US $ 3,154 back in 2006. It is also where the silver suit Justin Bieber wore for Superbowl, sold for US $ 5,000.

The popularity of online gift buying is second to none on eBay - during Christmas 2013, 14 gifts were bought each second. On average, a pair of shoes sells every 10 seconds, a handbag every 23 seconds and a tablet every two minutes. Research shows that 9:00 p.m. is the peak time for shoppers searching for iPads and tablets in the UK with over 200,000 businesses trading at any given time from the UK alone.

Alison is not the only one to have made her millions on eBay. Mark Radcliffe, a Tesco worker from Manchester, is on record as the first Briton to hit the retail jackpot on eBay. It seems Mark saved up to launch First2Save, an eBay site for mobile phones and phone accessories. He started the business in the garden shed of his parents’ home and 15 years later, he has arrived big time.

Power of Internet

So, what were the points of success for people like Alison and Mark, just your average folk, without access to start-up funds and big investment? The answer is simple – the power of the Internet - more accurately, the vast potential a global eCommerce site such as eBay offers. Although admittedly not everyone who sells on eBay can boast of outstanding success, perseverance, commitment and sticking to a proven formula are important aspects that can be found in the footprint of these successful eBay entrepreneurs.

Let’s face facts – it’s tough to cut loose once you start browsing and shopping on eBay. A mere click will take you to everything from designer replicas from China to actual designer stuff from Paris and Milan. Not to mention the competitive pricing for everything from tech gadgets to collectibles.

The sheer volume of items available, the flexibility of pricing and the ease of delivery, the ability to track packages (only until they leave the US or Europe) makes it a haven for talented entrepreneurs who know how to make the most of it.  

It is a destination shop for those who want to shop for everything they need from the comfort of their chair. It is also a place where you can compare and contrast and actually bid on items, combining the thrill of winning a bid with acquiring something you have always wanted.

Yet, with its entrepreneurial stakes running high, the advantage of eBay is empowering and enabling couples or even families to start ventures together successfully.

Ultimate success

Rachael and Colin White, who started their eBay business selling children’s items such as cartoon characters, found eBay to be the ultimate success they both so wanted. They list the eBay benefits of easy access, simplicity of starting a venture and the fact that there are no barriers to enter, as plus points to start a business from virtually nothing.

Their story is also the story of John and Gill Hewitt, who started a successful DIY venture on eBay. They gave up high-flying careers to focus on doing something they love, together. And it paid off.

Of course, selling on eBay means hard work too. You need to generate repeat sales and keep your eBay reputation sterling. Buyers check on feedback scores to ensure the seller is genuine and worth trusting.

Known as the world’s largest marketplace, eBay has millions of listings live at any given moment. From a start up by a curious computer programmer back in 1995, to highly respected Fortune 500 ranking, eBay’s journey has been one of rags-to-riches too. Today, alongside Google and Microsoft, it is one of the world’s most recognised and valued brands with a global presence.

With the Internet already revolutionizing how the world does business, the opportunities eBay offers entrepreneurs are tremendous. If the formula is right, one of sourcing a felt need and marketing products that fulfil such a need, then there is indeed opportunity for success.

On average, a pair of shoes sells every 10 seconds, a handbag every 23 seconds and a tablet every two minutes

(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at

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