This Seller Grew His Tech Business Almost 10x in Three Years

Nicole Grant Kriege, eBay News Team

Andrew Havens, an Up & Running grantee, shares how he scaled his scientific tech business on eBay.

This series features successful eBay sellers who are former Up & Running grantees. Apply by June 7 to become one of this year’s 50 grantees and receive $10,000 to grow your business.

Andrew Havens has loved technology since he was a child, disassembling and reassembling things just for the fun of it. He began selling all kinds of tech on eBay in 2019, but considered shutting down his business in 2020 during the pandemic when sales were slow.

eBay launched a program in 2020 called the Up & Running Grants, which has awarded 50 sellers with $10,000 annually for the last five years. Andrew decided to apply in that first year of the program, and was chosen as one of the 50 grantees.

Receiving the grant allowed him to pivot into selling scientific technology and grow his sales almost tenfold over the next three years. We sat down with Andrew to hear how he scaled his global business and to get his advice for sellers.

From child techie to eBay seller

When I was a kid, I was very interested in technology and wanted to understand how things work. I would take things apart and put them back together, like handheld video games and remote control cars. I really enjoyed fixing things.

As I got older, I developed a passion for the business side of technology. Now that I’ve created a niche for myself by selling scientific equipment, I’ve learned a great deal, not only about the instruments and the science itself, but about business strategies for sourcing and selling. About 90% of the tech we sell is refurb, so my focus is on growing our customer network and helping scientists find the parts they’re looking for. I don’t feel like I have a job because I’m having fun.

It’s awesome that the equipment I sell may be used by scientists to help create life-saving drugs, reduce climate change, and create a more sustainable food system. I sell worldwide to many top universities, as well as well-known companies and smaller startups, sending them technology to support their research.


Seller Andrew Havens

Andrew (pictured right) in his warehouse just outside of Portland, Oregon.


How he grew his business almost 10X in 3 years

There are a few things I did in the early days of the business that have really paid off over time.

The first is deciding to sell in only one category so I could become more knowledgeable about a specific industry. For me, that was scientific technology. When COVID hit in 2020, I got very close to shutting the business down, but fortunately I received the eBay Up & Running Grant. I decided to focus on a niche that I had the most interest in and the least amount of internal resistance to the actual daily work flow. Knowing that I’m helping scientists and engineers make a better world with their discoveries keeps selling sustainable for me and drives me to constantly improve.

The second thing I did was to get comfortable with shipping anywhere in the world. We ship to just about everywhere and to very surprising places, like presidential palaces. Just today we shipped to India and Colombia.

Lastly, I automated our inbound marketing and developed a deep level of proficiency with running ads. I experimented to see which ads got us the most inquiries, and then I took our best results and ran a new experiment. I’ve done that on repeat for years. Improving what we do by 1% a week has compounded and made a huge difference. We don’t need to make sales calls; people reach out to us.

Seller Andrew Havens

Three ways he scaled after receiving the eBay Up & Running Grant

It’s hard to describe how shocked I was when I got the phone call that I’d received the Up & Running Grant. I’m not really a “lucky” person, so I did not expect that call. I was speechless. I don’t think I said anything for about thirty seconds.

The first thing I did once I received the grant was to acquire additional inventory, allowing me to fully jump into selling scientific technology.

Next, I found someone to partner up with who I still work with today over three years later. Not only has lightened my workload, but it allows me to focus on the areas that grow the company such as strategic sourcing and marketing. Hiring him has had a profound impact on my business, and we work in the warehouse together every day.

Finally, I rented a bigger storage unit and installed some pallet shelving, which allowed us to get organized and ship things more quickly and efficiently. We also acquired a fork lift which has helped with the heavy lifting.

Seller Andrew Havens

His advice for sellers

Always do what is natural and authentic to yourself, and run experiments to see what you do best with. Once you find a process that works, repeat it and continually find ways to improve it. The difference is in how you do something, not what you do.

Honestly, one of my biggest pieces of advice for sellers is to apply for the Up & Running Grant. I have much less gray hair on my head than I would if I hadn’t received the grant. I’ve worked really hard to get to where I am today, but because of the grant, I’ve been able to spend more time with my family.

I definitely recommend being as genuine as possible in your application. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. I tried to be exactly who I was in my answers. And much to my surprise, I was selected. I’m still grateful and benefitting from that today.