Founders: Ben Stefanescu, 36, Adam Rowson, 42
Head Office: Victoria
Industry: Retail trade
The group buying and internet deals sector may be struggling at the moment but eSOLD is going from strength to strength, turning over $14 million last year and with expectations of $25 to $30 million in turnover next year.
Ben Stefanescu and Adam Rowson founded the business after identifying a niche for a mixed business model which included quality brand name products sold online at wholesale prices direct to consumers on a 24-hour sale model, along with an online department store as part of the business that allowed customers to shop from a wide variety of products at their convenience.
Stefanescu acknowledges the sector as a whole is struggling but says in contrast eSold is “growing like crazy”.
“There are many players falling by the wayside as they realise that the online retail business is much more challenging than normal retail,” he says.
“We are getting more market share as these weaker or not well planned players are falling by the wayside.”
Stefanescu says eSold’s business is doubling every month at this point; “it’s just insane, I’ve never seen anything like it,” he says.
He thinks the secret to eSold’s success is a strong product offering including brand names like Dyson vacuums and “doing the right thing” by eSold’s customers.
“A few customers say we are like a better version of Catch of the Day because we leave our good deals up, we don’t just have them for 24 hours, if they are still available we leave them up,” Stefanescu says.
The pair have just opened a sister site, Discounton.com.au, which Stefanescu says will “change the group buying scene forever”.
“We’ve thrown out the current deal model which is faulty and dying, it’s destroying the very businesses it is supposed to be supporting,” he says.
“We’ve revolutionised that, we are a deals search engine, businesses list their own deals up there and we are like somewhere between an eBay and a Google for deals.”
eSold is also growing through acquisitions as well as strategically, with the acquisition of supermarket deals site OffYourTrolley and the imminent launch of a business called ShavingClub which ships razors on a monthly basis to customers.
Things weren’t looking quite so rosy three months into eSold when PayPal started asking for a rolling reserve of up to one third of sales which was to be held for up to 90 days.
Stefanescu says PayPal’s demand nearly sent the business bust as eSold would have lost its entire profit margin for up to 90 days and would have lacked the cashflow to continue.
The crisis was resolved through “very serious negotiations” with PayPal and Stefanescu’s message for other entrepreneurs faced with a similar obstacle is to never quit.
“When obstacles that seem insurmountable arise, never walk away,” he says.
“Never accept no for an answer and push until you get the results and outcome you need.”
“If you believe in what you are doing others will support you if you can show them you mean business.”