For over 25 years, eBay Canada has been the home for Canadian small businesses and entrepreneurs hoping to access a global marketplace of over 138 million buyers.
Entering their 18th year, our annual Entrepreneur of the Year awards celebrate three eBay sellers in Canada who embody the passion, drive, and innovativeness of eBay Canada’s seller community - with cash prizes valued at over $20,000.
Keep scrolling to learn more about our 2022 winners, and winners from years past.
Sibtain Janmohamed (A-Lectron Inc.)
Richmond Hill, ON
What began as a small operation buying and selling used electronics would eventually grow when Sibtain and the A-Lectron team saw an opportunity in repairs. Today, the business sells a range of refurbished devices – cameras, smartphones, headphones, video game accessories, and more – and maintains a 100% positive feedback rating from customers looking to stretch their dollars and, increasingly, help divert e-waste from landfill.
Christian Kentie (The Frugal Dutchman)
After adding an eBay store to the collectibles and memorabilia business that he opened in 2016, Christian’s business went global by reaching Pokémon, Star Wars and pop culture fans from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, Japan, Peru and beyond. While 99% of Canadian small businesses on eBay export to, on average, 18 countries, Christian is also giving back to enthusiasts in his hometown by supporting clubs at local schools.
Dorina Pasca (Swiss Watch Parts Distributors Inc.)
Shortly after becoming the owner of a professional watch servicing brick-and-mortar business established in 1952, Dorina was forced to temporarily close at the start of the pandemic. She brought the business online for the first time using eBay and was able to continue serving loyal customers while reaching new ones and furthering the circular economy through watch repair.
Dave Turgeon (Dragon Spinz)
While working as a paralegal in the finance industry, Dave Turgeon of Levis, QC, began collecting and selling rare CDs on eBay as a hobby. Over time, his sales grew and he developed a knack for online retail. In the midst of the 2008 financial crisis, Dave decided to make a big change and leave his current career to become a full-time entrepreneur on eBay.
When Dave wanted to grow and scale his business by breaking into a new product category, he knocked on the door of one of both Quebec and North America’s largest bike component distributors and offered to help them sell online with his eBay business. While the cycling industry in general was broadly skeptical of online retail at that time, the distributor agreed and Dragon Spinz was born. Impressed with Dave’s online sales performance (the first few items were sold within one hour of being listed on eBay) the supplier increased the list of authorized products for Dragon Spinz after one short year.
Dave continued to grow his reputation in the industry, and now works with seven different global suppliers. His eBay sales volume is on track to more than double this year, after already hitting 120% growth in 2020. Exporting has been a key contributor to Dave’s exponential growth in terms of reaching new customers as well as keeping sales steady throughout the winter season in Canada -- a critical advantage for a seasonal industry like cycling.
Dave’s boldness and innovation has helped him grow Dragon Spinz into a thriving online business, reaching bike enthusiasts across the country and around the world. He is eBay Canada’s 2021 Entrepreneur of the Year.
Jehan Zeb (Mahin 888)
Vancouver, British Columbia
In 1994, Jehan Zeb moved to Canada from Pakistan to continue his studies. Shortly after, he began working at a local convenience store in Vancouver where a new and unexpected passion for coins developed - sparked by the commemorative Canadian coins that he crossed paths with every day at the till.
Working as a store manager, Jehan continued to cultivate this hobby in his spare time by attending trade shows and joining local collectors’ groups. In 2005, at the recommendation of a friend, he took his passion to a new level by starting to sell commemorative Canadian coins on eBay under the name Mahin 888.
Accessing a global market of buyers was an integral part of Jehan’s growth, with nearly half of his total sales from outside of Canada, including Israel, Russia, and the U.S. (which, alone, accounts for 20% of his sales). In 2018, he retired from his store manager position to operate his eBay coin business full time, selling over 10,000 items annually and amassing over 28,000 positive reviews. Keeping an international customer base in mind when sourcing his inventory keeps his business competitive globally, and this year he is trending at 150% year-over-year growth in gross sales.
Jehan’s customer-first mentality, passion for his products and eagerness to bring Canadian coinage to buyers around the world is what makes him our Micro-Multinational of the Year.
Karina Bogle (K Bogle 05)
A native of Stratford, Ontario, Karina began her first job while in high school, at White-Balmer Shoes. Working at the local storefront fueled Karina’s passion for footwear and fashion, which led her to Toronto, where she managed a large shoe distributor - designing footwear around the world for national and international brands.
Over a decade later, in 2019 Karina returned to her hometown to take the reins from her previous employers at White-Balmer. Not long after, the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic forced Karina to temporarily shut her doors. This major challenge was the impetus that expedited her plan to take a traditional and iconic local brick-and-mortar storefront online. Designing a website and linking her inventory to eBay’s global marketplace was her first step into ecommerce.
As pandemic restrictions continued eBay quickly became the majority source of online sales for White-Balmer, as well as roughly a third of total sales, at times. Karina credits the sales from her eBay store as allowing her to not only keep her current sales staff employed, but also expand by adding additional staff to help with the online demand. eBay is now White-Balmer’s primary online global marketplace as Karina looks to expand her product offerings and access new international markets.
Karina’s tenacity and resilience have helped her successfully pivot her business online to support and complement her local mainstreet shop, allowing her overall business to not only survive, but thrive during unprecedented economic challenges. She is eBay Canada’s 2021 Emerging Ecommerce Entrepreneur of the Year winner.
Ajay Mirchandani (target0007)
Richmond Hill, Ontario
Shortly after moving to Canada as a child, Ajay Mirchandani was invited to his first Blue Jays game. This sparked a lifelong passion for sports, and the memory inspired the name of what would later become his business: Bleacher Bum.
In 2002, Ajay owned a video game store and began selling on eBay to test out ecommerce. Quickly he realized the potential of an online business and began building his physical and digital storefronts concurrently. Over time, he was in a position to shift his focus to his life-long passion: sports memorabilia. Today, he and his wife Mansi oversee a 2,800 square foot storefront in Richmond Hill, ON, selling exclusive and high-valued jerseys and sports collectibles both online and through an appointment-based brick and mortar shop.
Since joining eBay, the family business has enjoyed consistent year-over-year growth in online sales, and in 2020 alone – in the middle of a pandemic -- Bleacher Bum’s sales on eBay have almost doubled, with roughly half of those being from exports.
Luc Dion (boutique_lucs)
Luc Dion’s passion for the fashion industry guided him to his first job at 18, working for Prada, and for over a decade he managed luxury fashion storefronts while building relationships within the Montreal industry scene. In 2016, a client described her troubles reselling a number of luxury bags, and Dion offered to help. From there, Boutique LUC.S was born – selling and consigning luxury vintage outerwear, shoes, sunglasses and more. From vintage, to hype items. From pre-loved, to new with tags. He quickly realized the importance of expanding beyond his storefront in Old Montreal and invited his best friend Claire Teasdale to join the business and take it online.
Teasdale began spearheading the boutique’s online operations in 2017, focused on tapping into eBay’s global marketplace for international expansion. In three short years they were selling to fashion enthusiasts in over 25 markets on six continents. Today, online exports represent more than half of their overall sales. Even as COVID-19 shuttered many Old Montreal storefronts, this young business has continued growing – doubling the square footage of their physical storefront this year to keep up with the needs of their growing online operations and sales.
William Chong (dollyscards)
Dolly’s Toys & Games was born out of a childhood passion for trading card games shared by William Chong and his two brothers. Growing up, the Chong brothers became frequent visitors of a local toys and games shop in Toronto, specifically for its collection of Magic: The Gathering cards. When the shop’s owners retired, they approached the brothers to take over.
The brothers complimented their storefront sales by tapping into eBay’s global marketplace, which quickly grew into a significant sales channel for them. Leveraging the revenue generated from ecommerce, they have been able to continue to reinvest and grow the overall business to support three separate storefronts in the Greater Toronto Area.
While their brick-and-mortar operations expanded, they also enjoyed consistent annual growth on eBay. Despite COVID-19 forcing their physical storefronts to temporarily close, in 2020 they grew their online sales by over 500 percent.
Nan Xu (toolioking)
In 2014, Nan Xu (toolioking) joined Investments Hardware Limited (IHL Canada), a family-owned and -operated business established in 1985 in Woodbridge, Ontario, and specializing in power tools and building materials. Overseeing the business’ e-commerce department, Nan immediately saw an untapped opportunity for IHL Canada to stimulate global export growth using eBay. He redesigned the company’s eBay store, which today includes more than 500 listings. To handle the growth in demand on eBay, Nan began using machine learning technology to transform order management, fulfillment, and customer services. IHL Canada also established a partnership with UPS Canada to more efficiently ship products. This partnership was especially important in 2017, when IHL Canada offered free-expedited shipping to aid the efforts of workers helping to rebuild Puerto Rico after Hurricane Irma. Over the last five years, eBay has enabled IHL to exponentially grow their exports to over 50 countries across the globe. This growth has created opportunities for them to introduce new product offerings and even develop their own private-labelled brands including DuraDrive and BOSSA which they offer both online and in their Woodbridge store. Today, IHL operates in a 120,000 sq ft. warehouse complemented by a 40,000 sq ft. showroom for local clientele. The eBay business is on track to triple in size this year and now offers the largest selection of tools and workshop equipment in Canada.
Jessica Oman (storage_warriors)
Jessica Oman (storage_warriors) was working in consulting in Vancouver, British Columbia when she and her husband Johann decided to pursue a new hobby, buying and selling the contents of storage units. The couple’s entrepreneurial roots led them to open an eBay store to sell their storage unit treasures, and Jessica and Johann quickly found they were making as much money through eBay as they were through their day jobs. Over a span of three years, the couple took the leap to pursue their side-hustle full-time. Jessica and Johann used eBay as a way to sell to global buyers from countries including United States, UK, France, Australia and Malaysia and they adapted their inventory sourcing strategy to feed into global trends and demands based on learnings from their eBay international sales. Today, 90 per cent of Storage Warrior’s sales come from exports. Their business started in their home, but quickly moved to a local garage rental, and is now housed in a 2,000 square foot warehouse. They will likely need to expand their operation again as they have already doubled their 2018 sales. With three employees currently, and plans to hire additional staff to keep up with business growth, the pair’s business is growing on all fronts!
Simon Duguay (newxon)
Simon Duguay (newxon) began his e-commerce journey after graduating university when he set up shop in his basement and began selling clothing to make some extra money. In 2015, Simon decided to list some of his collectible figurines on eBay and quickly found that they were high in demand, and offered an even higher profit margin. A new business was born! Simon’s collectibles business is on track to hit $1 million in sales this year, with the majority coming from eBay. His consistently strong year-over-year online sales growth over the past four years has generated enough revenue for him to open a brick-and-mortar location in his community of Saguenay, Quebec. The 3,000 square foot facility includes a warehouse and retail store and is staffed by six employees ranging from tech and operations experts to sales managers, all focused on supporting and integrating his physical and online sales channels. Simon credits online sales has having played a pivotal role in his business expansion and having invested $250,000 into his company in the past year, Simon is laser-focused on accelerating his business’ growth.
Nima Tahmassb (sogoodtobuy)
In 2006, Nima began selling car accessories on eBay to support himself while finishing his university degree in Montréal. As a result of his early online success, Nima was offered North American distribution rights for a manufacturer of air conditioners and ductless heat pumps. Though cost-effectively shipping large appliances would be difficult, Nima saw the category as an unexplored area of opportunity. During the early days, eBay was Nima's main source of sales, and profits were used to build out other initiatives to help fuel growth - a warehouse, marketing and advertising, and, eventually, a company website. The business started taking off in 2008, but shortly after, it was hit by the effects of a recession when his manufacturer went out of business. Nima reacted by finding a new supplier, but this time around, he created his own in-house brand to protect his business from future manufacturer changes, as well as give him the freedom to expand his brand's product offerings. Last year, Nima unexpectedly found himself contributing to recovery efforts in Texas from Hurricane Harvey. Learning that the affected region was unable to purchase power generators locally, and that Americans were turning to eBay to buy much-needed supplies at competitive prices, Nima's team quickly sourced in-demand items which they offered with free, expedited shipping. Today, Nima runs a multi-channel, multi-million dollar business, operating out of four warehouses across North America. His once-side business on eBay has become Canada's top online air conditioner brand.
Mike Maguire (motomike_canada)
After running a pizza shop in Ottawa, Ontario for a decade, Mike traded in his apron to pursue his passion for cars. He got a position in the parts department of a local car dealership where his entrepreneurial instinct led him to opening an eBay store to sell the company's deadstock inventory. He saw products begin to move off the shelves to customers not just across the country, but around the world, so he doubled down on his ecommerce efforts. Realizing that he could further capitalize on his interest and expertise in sourcing motorcycle and car parts, Mike left the dealership a couple of years later to embark on his own eBay venture. Clearing off shelves in his own garage for his new business, he began sourcing rare, obsolete and liquidated parts for cars and motorcycles and created eBay listings that offered international shipping. Quickly, he found himself selling to customers across the globe, and his sales more than tripled within the first three months. Today, over 75% of Mike's sales are to buyers from international markets including Japan, France, Germany and the UK. His inventory portfolio has grown along with his export sales, and he now also caters to ATV, snowmobile and boating enthusiasts. His eBay business has grown from two shelves in his garage into a 3,000 sq. ft warehouse in the span of three years, and he's on track to double his annual sales in 2018.
Matt Dirk (silvergoldbull)
When Matthew joined the Silver Gold Bull team in Calgary, he had one objective - expand the bullion business's online presence to broaden their customer base. He believed bullion, a traditional business-to-business industry, was primed to tap into the consumer market thanks to ecommerce, and he saw an opportunity to show consumers how purchasing precious metals could be both fun as well as a smart, secure investment. While Silver Gold Bull was selling to traditional clients through their own website and over the phone, Matthew saw eBay as the right channel to penetrate the untapped consumer market. He initially established a store on eBay.ca, offering bullion products with consumer appeal like Canadian maple leaf coins and retro imprinted gold coins. Instantly, he saw the consumer business take off - shattering the company's eBay sales goals in the first few weeks on the site. To continue the growth and amplify the company's international presence, Matthew opened an additional store on eBay.com to cater to US customers, and has plans to open additional eBay stores soon. The company's online sales are up 400% with total eBay sales anticipated to hit the $8 million mark by the end of the year.
Vasilios Sakellaropoulos (universaldatasupplies)
Vasilios began selling computer printer ink and toner cartridges out of his friend and business partner's parents' basement. They sourced their inventory through traditional avenues and acquired customers through cold calls and telemarketing, but their low margins and customer base couldn't turn a profit. Getting online for both sourcing and selling inventory was pivotal for them. It allowed the pair to refine their inventory strategy and leverage the secondary market while also facilitating their expansion into the US—a strategy that turned their business around, quickly. Today, they run a multi-million-dollar Business & Industrial retail operation that includes multiple sales channels, a 3,500-square-foot retail and warehouse space, and six full-time employees.
Kalina Koleva & Maria Petrova (RunwayCatalog)
Kalina and her mother Maria turned their passion for fashion into a full-time online business that now employs all of the women in their family. Leveraging their relationships with Canadian brands and wholesalers, they began selling moderately priced shoes and accessories to customers across Canada. However, their business took off when they tapped into international trade opportunities facilitated by online marketplaces. Today, 95% of their sales are from outside of the country; Kalina and her team regularly sell to markets including the US, the Middle East, and Europe, and their inventory includes everything from Canadian products to high-end global brands. The success of their multi-million-dollar online business is just the beginning, as they are now leveraging some of the profits to start their own Canadian fashion label.
Charles Chiu (Refurbio)
Three years into working for a consumer electronics refurbisher and retailer, Charles realized that the company's stagnant online consumer business offered a tremendous opportunity for growth. By reviving this channel, Charles understood he would be able to generate a steady incremental sales stream to compliment the company's existing B2B-focused, omni-channel business. Leveraging online marketplaces, he tapped into key retail moments like back to school and holiday, offering highly competitive pricing on refurbished, "good-as-new" big-ticket tech items that came with full factory warranties. He also participated in online deal programs, like eBay Deals, for additional promotion and exposure of his price-competitive inventory. With continued triple-digit online sales growth in the domestic market, the online consumer channel has now become one of the primary sources of growth for the overall business, and Charles is starting to direct his efforts to increasing export sales for further growth.
Yossef Vidal (watchvendor)
Yossef and his wife Shoshana started selling cell phones on eBay, but quickly added watches to their inventory after research showed they were in high demand with limited competition. He and Shoshana quickly expanded their offerings to include name-brand jewellery, sunglasses, and handbags. Since 2013, they have more than doubled their yearly sales and have brought on three full-time employees to help them keep up with increased demand for their products. To date, their cumulative sales have amounted to more than $10 million.
Nadia Shuaib (budget_electronics)
Nadia started Budget Electronics as a cell phone accessories wholesale business out of her apartment in 2014, primarily selling inventory to local retailers. Since she began selling on eBay, she has grown her product portfolio by more than ten times, and has opened a 3,500 ft2 warehouse that also functions as a brick-and-mortar store. To date, her online sales have grown on average of more than 1,000 percent year over year, and she is projecting sales upward of $1 million in 2017.
Adrien Lavoie (boardshopw)
In 2011, Adrien started his business in the basement of his parents' house selling skateboard-related merchandise. He began selling online through eBay and quickly saw success, allowing him to build a 2,100 ft 2 brick-and-mortar store. Since then, Adrien has evolved his business to focus on sneakers. Selling globally is the key to Adrien's success: 90 percent of his sales are from outside of Canada, and he regularly ships items to more than 45 countries. To date, he has sold more than $1 million worth of shoes and apparel on eBay, and his year over year sales continue to double.