Meet the eBay millionaires

Trading online has been the route to entrepreneurial success for many. We take a look at how three businesspeople have used eBay to great effect.

In the last year, the number of eBay businesses turning over at least £1m has doubled. There will be 127 of them by the end of 2010, according to the online auction site. We take a look at three of these firms.
Warren Blayds

Warren Blayds launched Online4baby in 2005 and it has since become the biggest nursery products UK business on eBay. It evolved from the foundations of a family business established in 1987 which consisted of a large group of outlets supplying discounted nursery products. However, due to the company’s increasing popularity and customer demands for immediate delivery, Online4baby set up operations on eBay. Blayds now works on his online business full-time and says: “Before I launched Online4baby, I was working in a mundane office job. But our success has meant that I have been able to hire more staff, gain invaluable business insight and expand the company.” “Over the last few years, we’ve had to become more competitive and make stricter purchasing decisions, to ensure our products remain cheaper than the exact same items found on the high street. He hopes to buy larger premises and expand his website in the future, and feels confident this will be achieved.

Anthony Ponsford

Anthony Ponsford started selling on eBay as Piranha Trading in 2003. The business sells a variety of products – from desks to chicken houses – at competitive prices. Before he went full time with Piranha Trading, Ponsford was a corporate lawyer – regularly working 16 hour days and seven days a week. Thanks to his new business venture, he says, ‘for the first time I am motivated to get out of bed in the morning’. Between 2007 and 2009 Piranha Trading increased its annual sales from £39,000 to over £820,000. This year it’s forecasting £1.3m and Ponsford also expects to achieve a gross margin of over 20% in 2010 after VAT, fees and carriage costs. He attributes his success to avoiding seasonal products and trends and instead stocking ‘quality bargains’.   

Jeremy Wicks

Jeremy Wicks’ business, Why Buy New UK, was launched in 2003. He wanted to offer cut price b-grade electronics but with the advice, customer care and professionalism usually associated with bigger companies. From the start he decided to list a proportion of his stock on eBay but it wasn’t until 2007, when he found his own website couldn’t handle the quantities required, that he used the site to sell large amounts of stock. The business is now sending out over 1,500 orders on eBay each month. Wicks employs 22 members of staff and his forecast turnover this year is £4m. He expects to achieve a gross margin of 20-25%. Since 2007, Wicks has seen continual growth and expansion. He admits he took no salary for three years from 2003, and has fought of problems including cancer in 2009, but recently he has been able to employ more staff and purchase a new warehouse and office complex to meet the growing demands for his business’ products.


(will not be published)