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October 5, 2010

eBay Canada recognizes Top Entrepreneurs

National competition enters its sixth year

Virendra Rajawat of Toronto has been crowned eBay Canada’s 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year. Selling more than $185,000 in jewelry and gemstones a year online, Virendra started his business in 2004 shortly after immigrating to Canada from India where he worked as a manager for a medical diagnostics company. Today he takes advantage of social media like Twitter and even gets his teenaged children involved in the family eBay business.

eBay Canada also recognized Antoine Viel of Quebec City as the Innovator of the Year, a new category awarded to a Canadian who uses innovative practices to engage and attract customers to build his or her online business. Working for a 100-year old, family-run music store, Antoine decided to sell their musical instruments on eBay to attract international customers. To differentiate from the competition, Antoine develops YouTube videos of the instruments he sells so buyers can hear the tonal quality of the instrument. He also regularly communicates special offers and sales to potential buyers on Facebook.

Finally, eBay Canada has awarded the Family Business of the Year title to Sheri Walker of Nova Scotia. As the owner of a small antiques shop in the Maritimes, and with no previous computer experience, Sheri was reluctant to sell on eBay until a rare Churchill collectable button – priced at only $5 in her store – sold for nearly $400 on eBay. eBay quickly become a perfect way for Sheri to grow her small business without leaving hometown of Middleton. Today Sheri sells $100,000 a year on eBay and everyone in her family helps selling antiques and collectables, including her three-year-old son.

The sixth annual eBay Canada Entrepreneur of the Year awards program recognizes and rewards Canada’s most successful and innovative sellers among the tens of thousands of Canadians who sell on the world's largest online marketplace. Close to 300 Canadians entered the annual competition. The core Entrepreneur of the Year award is presented annually, while additional new awards are created every year.

“Canadian entrepreneurship and innovation happens all day every day on eBay,” said Andrea Stairs, country manager for eBay Canada. “The Entrepreneur of the Year awards uncover stories of Canadians from all walks of life who drive Canada's small business engine.”

Along with bragging rights, winners receive a cash prize of $2,500 for the Entrepreneur of the Year category and $1,500 for Innovator of the Year and Family Business of the Year titles. All three winners will also enjoy $500 towards a business-related course or workshop and promotion to more than two-million eBay buyers.

The Winners

eBay Canada’s 2010 Entrepreneur of the Year – Virendra Rajawat, Toronto (eBay ID: sonatona)

After leaving India and coming to Canada in 2004, Entrepreneur of the Year winner Virendra Rajawat had an extremely difficult time finding a job in the medical diagnostics field, A month after a fruitless job search, Virendra joined eBay – and was immediately hooked. He had such great success online that he gave up his search for a medical diagnostics job and decided to focus on eBay full time. Working from home, he now has the whole family involved in the business including his son and daughter who attend a local Toronto high school. Today, he sells more than $185,000 in jewelry and gemstones a year.

eBay Canada’s 2010 Innovator of the Year  - Antoine Viel, Quebec City, Quebec (eBay ID: directmusiconline)

In 2009, eBay Canada’s 2010 Innovator of the Year winner Antoine Viel approached the owner of the 100-year old music store where he worked with an idea to sell instruments on eBay. One year later, he’s sold more than half-a-million dollars worth of musical instruments – from pianos to accordions – online. So that buyers (80 per cent live outside of Canada) can hear exactly what the instrument sounds like, Antoine develops YouTube videos of the instruments he sells. He also regularly communicates special offers and sales to potential buyers on Facebook. His ambition is to become the biggest eBay store selling musical instruments in Canada.

eBay Canada’s 2010 Family Business of the Year  - Sheri Walker, Middleton, Nova Scotia ( eBay ID: beansantiques)

Nearly nine years ago eBay Canada’s 2010 Family Businessof the Year winner Sheri Walker decided to expand her family-owned collectables shop by taking it online on eBay; she’s never looked back since. Sheri quickly realized that eBay would give her access to a worldwide customer base she otherwise would not have access to from her small hometown. Currently, approximately 60 per cent of Sheri’s items are sold to international customers. The entire family is involved in the business: her husband packages the items and her three-year-old son places the labels on the packages and carries the parcels to the local post office each day.

The National Finalist

Talena Winters – Peace River, Alberta (eBay ID: wintersdistributing)

Entrepreneur of the Year national finalist Talena Winters started her eBay business five years ago after looking for a way to earn income from home as a busy mom to three. She did not have to look far to source a niche product that was in demand – her mother was the owner of a high-quality saddle pad company and she approached her about selling the saddle pads online. eBay has allowed Talena to earn an income while homeschooling her kids. And even though she’s moved to three different towns, she has never had to change her job.

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