More than two hundred new eBay millionaires have been made since 2013 in Britain – and some of them are as young as 19.
Despite the economic turbulence of the early 2010s, the UK’s online economy has proven increasingly robust, with the number of eBay millionaires rising by 50 per cent since 2013 – from 443 to 663.
An eBay millionaire is defined as a business registered on eBay.co.uk with a turnover of £1 million or more. According to the latest data from the marketplace, the rising number of millionaires has been driven by booming online sales of fashion, furniture and electronics.
20-year-old Monty George is a newly minted eBay millionaire. He runs Furniture Box, a Wiltshire-based online furniture store, with business partner Dan Beckles, 19. The business launched on eBay in 2015 after the two chose to focus on enterprise rather than pursue university education, and Furniture Box now turns over more than £1 million.
Fashion has proved to be the standout sector for another Wiltshire-based eBay millionaire. Clare Haines set up Lingerie Outlet Store in 2009, but it wasn’t until best friend Melissa Burton joined the business as a partner in 2014 that the working mums led Lingerie Outlet Store to 2,000 per cent growth. The firm now employs 23 staff and is looking for a new warehouse.
Clare and Melissa are part of the strongest growing category on eBay UK by business registration – Clothing, Shoes and Accessories. More than a quarter – 26.3 per cent – of new business joiners to the site in 2016 set up a Clothing, Shoes and Accessories store. Other fast growing UK categories include Electronics sellers (22.9 per cent of registrations) and Home and Garden items (20.2 per cent).
The new figures are released as eBay prepares to launch the first ever eBay for Business Awards. The Awards are free to enter and open to all eBay businesses, regardless of size. The winning businesses will receive a cash prize, a trip to meet eBay’s global executive team in the United States, as well as tailored assistance to help boost their presence online and help them to sell their products.
Rob Hattrell, vice president of eBay in the UK, says, ‘The businesses trading on eBay make us who we are, and I’m delighted that we are helping even more of them hit the million pound mark.
‘Now we want to meet the next generation. Through the eBay for Business Awards, we want to hear from the best and the brightest businesses up and down the country.
‘Whether they are just getting started with a new invention or already an established trader, we want to recognise UK talent and boost the online presence of even more of this country’s entrepreneurs.’
New business registrations on eBay UK in 2016, by sector:
1) Clothing, shoes and accessories – 26.3 per cent
2) Electronics – 22.9 per cent
3) Home and Garden – 20.2 per cent
4) Collectibles – 8.6 per cent
5) Parts and accessories (motor) – 7.4 per cent
6) Lifestyle – 6.7 per cent
7) Business and industrial – 5.4 per cent
8) Media – 2.5 per cent
Furniture Box – the eBay millionaires who chose business over university
This online furniture business was launched in 2015 by young entrepreneur Monty George, who was aged just 18 at the time and decided to pursue a career in business rather than attend university.
Monty runs the business from an office and warehouse space in Mere, Wiltshire with fellow young entrepreneur Dan Beckles. Now aged 20 and 19 respectively, Monty and Dan have led Furniture Box to rapid growth within just a year of launching. The business turned over £1.06 million in 2016. Monty and Dan are eyeing up further growth this year, including expansion into supplying commercial property projects.
Managing Director Monty George discusses how he achieved rapid growth for his business:
‘A lot of people of my age would find launching a business daunting, but it’s a simple case of knowing your market, and which channel makes the most sense with your target audience in mind. We launched Furniture Box into a readymade marketplace with eBay, so instead of investing heavily in marketing we could invest in inventory. This meant we could keep up with the rapidly growing demand coming from our rising number of customers.’
Customer service is also important when growing a business, with online stores allowing new buyers to read the feedback left by others who have shopped with us before. We’ve built up a long list of positive reviews, and this is great for building confidence among those thinking about buying from us for the first time.
‘If I was going to give one bit of advice to someone wanting to rapidly grow their business online, it would be to study the marketplace and find your niche among competitors. If you can identify a unique offering for consumers, your sales will fly!’
Clare Haines and Melissa Burton , Lingerie Outlet Store
Clare Haines went into business in 2009 having bought a van load of products from play dough to fishing line with her remaining £15,000 in savings. Having broken even on this and somewhat chastened from this experience, she used the lessons learned to found Lingerie Outlet Store on eBay from her garage in Swindon soon after. Is was an immediate success, which led to Clare being named Wiltshire Small Business of the Year in 2011.
Melissa Burton, Clare’s best friend became an equal partner in the business in 2015 when looking for a new challenge after fifteen years working in telecoms. For all Clare’s entrepreneurial skill and tenacity, she admits that Melissa has brought a strategic approach to the business which has led to the firm’s 2000 per cent growth in the past few years.
Both are working mums who no longer work evenings or weekends. They also employ 32 staff and are looking for a new warehouse having outgrown their 18,000 sq. ft. space. They cite the ‘explosion’ of stores like Victoria’s Secret as key to the continued expansion of the lingerie market.
‘The past few years have seen Lingerie Outlet go from strength to strength. By focussing our sales drive on online channels such as eBay, we have been able to free up budget which would have otherwise gone on a bricks and mortar store or marketing budget. This has also freed up the time of our staff; who have more time to devote to fulfilling orders and dealing with customer queries – which is key to building brand love and ensuring that customers buy from us again and again.
‘My main advice to someone wanting to launch their own business is to keep a close eye on sales data. This has enabled us to start mapping out seasonal product trends to plan our inventory throughout the year, for example in the spring when we know that swimwear sales rocket as people plan for their summer holidays.’