This week, we’ve been fortunate enough to spend time with our passionate seller community at our inaugural eBay OPEN event – hearing from businesses large and small; sellers new to eBay and long-time partners on our marketplace – about their experiences building, growing, and expanding businesses on eBay.
From young parents searching for work-life balance, to a family bringing a brick-and-mortar legacy into the world of ecommerce, to college students following an entrepreneurial dream, their stories are the foundation of our marketplace, the true essence of eBay. That’s why we were so proud to be able to recognize the winners from our first annual SHINE Awards for Small Business at eBay OPEN in Las Vegas last night.
We were humbled by the more than 1,300 small business owners who submitted entries and shared their eBay stories with us. The stories we read exemplified the creativity, entrepreneurial attitude, and good old fashioned hustle that make small businesses on eBay, and across the world, successful. We were overwhelmed at the response when we announced our 15 finalists in June and opened the voting up to our buying and selling community. Nearly 40,000 votes were cast by more than 18,000 unique voters – an impressive turnout, and a wonderful show of support for these 15 incredible businesses.
It was a privilege to be on the judging panel to select the Grand Prize Winner and 2016 Small Business of the Year, alongside John Henry, host of the eBay “Open for Business” podcast; Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration; Christine Deslauriers, winner of eBay Canada’s Entrepreneur of the Year contest in 2015, and Quynhdao Cong, a 15-year eBay veteran and employee, who was recently the winner of our “Be the Customer” contest for employees. The consensus was reached quickly and unanimously, and we had the great pleasure of honoring our SHINE Awards Grand Prize Winner last night: Laurie Wong.
Laurie’s eBay store, Reflections of Trinity, works to serve the needs of its community through ecommerce and a local marketplace ministry. Over the past five years, she’s been able to run and grow a healthy business, increasing sales and her ability to give back every year. In 2015 alone, she distributed more than 12,000 boxes of groceries (622,965 lbs. of food!) to those in need in her community. She was awarded a $10,000 cash prize as well as a package of marketing tools and services to help grow her eBay business. You can read more about her story here.
Our category winners, also announced in Las Vegas last night, were selected by the eBay community through a public vote. We were proud to recognize:
- Woman Small Business Owner: Tanya Crew, Motorcycle-Works. As a single mom trying to finish college, Tanya started selling motorcycle accessories on eBay to make some extra spending money and now, years later, has a multi-million dollar global business.
- Growing Business: Spencer Apland, 541-Motorsports. Spencer has eight full-time employees and maintains a 20,000 square foot warehouse. His eBay business provides a comfortable living for his growing family, and Spencer expects revenue to increase by more than 50 percent from 2015 to 2016.
- Global Business: Neha Gajwani, Smack-Tom. Neha sources electronics accessories overseas and sells them through her own website and on eBay. As her business began to grow, she has opened offices in Miami, India, and most recently in China, and 23 percent of her sales are international.
- Charitable Business: Lauralee Lindholm, Heart for Ethiopia. Lauralee uses eBay to raise funds to help young children attend school and entrepreneurs to start their own businesses in rural Ethiopia.
- Family Business: William Wolstenholme, Rhode Island Internet Consignment and Sales. William and his family run the one of the biggest eBay stores for Antiques & Collectibles. The store is a full-time job for William, his wife, two daughters, and son-in-law.
We encourage you to read about the inspiring stories of these six remarkable small businesses for yourself here. Please join us in congratulating our winners: we are already looking forward to reading next year’s SHINE submissions.