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Bidding for success

Bidding for successLooking for a low-risk opportunity to set up a business? eBay has the answer.

eBay has become a household name in the UK as a great way to make a few extra quid flogging unwanted goods.
But, with so much competition now from other canny vendors, some might argue it’s had its day for any wannabe millionaires.
Mark Radcliffe would beg to differ. As eBay’s biggest UK vendor, the former trainee supermarket manager owes his livelihood to the internet auction phenomenon and his rollercoaster career shows no sign of slowing just because of the recession.

How did he do it?

Mark started off ten years ago after reading about online trading. He launched his eBay store in 1999 using just £200 he saved up from his £7 per hour trainee manager job at Tesco. He began working from his parents’ home using their garden shed as a stock room. His tiny eBay shop rapidly expanded. He said: “All my mates had mobile phones and needed accessories so I thought it would be a good way to make money. Then I started selling computer accessories too and it just escalated.”

In 2003 Mark moved into a 10,000 sq ft warehouse in Merseyside and set up his brand, First2save, in 2005. He now sells everything from mobile phone accessories to protein supplements, receiving around 36,000 monthly orders.

And now?

The major success of Mark’s eBay shop means he is living a very different life to that of a supermarket manager. He sells a range of more than 3,700 items, employs 19 staff and has a turnover of more than £3million.

He owns a £700,000 home and has a £150,000 Ferrari and a £118,000 Aston Martin in the driveway.

“I still have to pinch myself - it's a dream come true,” said Mr Radcliffe, who is married with a one-year-old daughter and lives in Southport. He added: “I could have continued working at Tesco and become a manager, which would have been a safe job but it would not have stretched me.”

Word from the wise

Mr Radcliffe says he is wary that the recession could affect his business but his hi-tech software allows him to keep a close eye on his profit margins.

He said: ”I couldn't have got where I am today without the right people to help. Also being aware of the latest technology has always been important.

“First2save has come a long way in ten years and it's astonishing what we've managed to achieve.

“The internet means that virtually anyone can succeed in business from a low start-up point. All it takes is a lot of hard work and determination.”