How eBay helped launch a billion-dollar online business

You’d be amazed at how many of Australia’s top online entrepreneurs got their start on eBay. Big names like Gabby Leibovich, founder of the billion-dollar group buying site, Catch of the Day, and Nathan Huppatz, founder of both used eBay as a low-cost, low-risk way to launch their digital empires.

Whilst they got started selling their goods on eBay and then built online stores off the back of that success, some leading entrepreneurs look to eBay as a valuable source of business data. Brian Shanahan, co-founder of the online homewares retailer Temple & Webster, is one of them.

‘Before we launched, we looked at the growth categories on eBay and matched it with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics about household wealth and demographics and realised there was a gap in the market for an online-homewares store like Temple & Webster. We’ve never looked back. eBay was a valuable source of business data for us.’

With over 1.1 million subscribers, 300,000 customers and sales of $50 million, all acquired in just five years, Brian’s hunch certainly paid off.

Shaun O’Brien, founder of the online electronic accessories retailer Selby Acoustics, regards eBay as the best business education that money can’t buy.

‘eBay can teach you a heck of a lot about ecommerce and how to treat a customer. We process 100,000 orders a year and yet we only have 1.5 people in customer service – most of what I learnt about customer service I learnt from selling on eBay. Even if you don’t stay on eBay forever, what eBay teaches you about business is priceless.’

Phil Leahy, founder of The Internet Conference, and a former eBay power-seller himself, also believes eBay is a great way to learn about transacting online.

‘By starting on eBay you can acquire customer profitability, the importance of web design, SEO and how to build trust; all the essential ingredients for creating a successful digital venture.’

Leahy recommends starting with eBay, then opening your own website and looking towards Google, comparison sites and Amazon to find your own market and customers.

Clearly, what was once the go-to place for buying and selling second-hand goods and hard-to-find treasures has come of age. It’s fast becoming a highly-respected global marketplace and a rich source of education and data for ambitious entrepreneurs.

Will eBay be the starting point for your online journey?

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