5 eCom Businesses Which Turned SIMPLE Ideas Into Millions Of Dollars

When you have been around as long as I have in the online world, you tend to see things come and go and then come again. 

Some of you reading this may remember the late 90’s early 2000’s and the Dot Com boom where simply adding an ‘e’ to the start of your company name or a  “dot com” to the end would increase the stock value of your company exponentially.

For those of you that don’t remember, think the wild west and early prospecting, without the dirt and sweat stains but with all of the cut throat aggression and heavy drinking.

Literally companies with no real business plan or structure were being snapped up by venture capitalist for tens of millions of dollars only to spectacularly fail a few months later when somebody actually pointed out there was no real way to make any money out of these flimsy “cool named” companies.

By 2001 a spectacular collapse happened when, as these things tend to, everything came to a head and stock prices crashed.  Billions were lost as companies folded left and right.


But when the dust settled and the debris was cleared away, guess who was left ……


Amazon and Ebay (among a handful of others)

LONDON UNITED KINGDOM - MARCH 05 2014: Amazon.co.uk shipping package parcel box opened on wooden floor with protection paper inside. Amazon.com went online in 1995 and is now the largest online retailer in the world.

Why ?

Because they were offering real products…

Real products that people actually used…..

Real products that people actually used and wanted to get conveniently…..

And so began the re-birth of eCom.

Since then both eBay and Amazon have continued to grow and improve the user experience and they opened the doors for a host of new technology that allows anyone and everyone to open their own eCom business.

Lets have a look at some of the success stories since that time:-


Dollar Shave Club

Born out of two friends frustration with the spiraling cost of buying razor blades each month Dollar Shave Club began operations in July 2011.

They offer razors and other male grooming products sent monthly to customers via subscription service for an extremely reasonable cost of just $7 per month.

This, coupled with an inventive and humorous viral video campaign that took social media by storm, provided them with a customer base of over 2 million members.

This base line recurring revenue in the millions per month is the reason for the current valuation of $615 million after only 4 years in operation.


Black Milk

I love the back story of Black Milk, because it represents what I think most people trying to start a business go through. 

Starting with just a pawn shop sewing machine in a front room with zero experience and just a burning passion and desire to create something.  James Lillis has built a multi mullion dollar clothing brand that now employs over 150 people.

The best part is that this explosive growth has been done with zero cost of advertising.

Black Milk Clothing truly represents the power that social media has when you couple the right product, with the right market.

A true viral phenomenon that shows no signs of slowing down.


Rent the Runway

Some of the best and most successful businesses both offline and online are formed to specifically fill a gap in the market, this is undoubtedly the case with Rent The Runway.

Men have always enjoyed the flexibility of being able to rent formal attire for required occasions, whereas women were either relegated into stumping up to pay for something that looks less than glamorous,  pay crazy designer prices for a dress that may never be worn again, or (God forbid) rent a prom style merengue dress !

That changed in 2009 when 2 business school friends launched Rent the Runway.

The concept is simple;  rent a top of the line designer dress of any occasion for a fraction of the cost of buying one !

It’s affordable,

It’s stylish

It means you never have to be seen wearing the same dress twice !

In short they perfectly filled a gap in the market and consequently built a huge business that now employs more than 350 people and is valued at between $400 and $600 million dollars !!!


Baby poo, is not the most glamorous subject.

It is however an commodity that never goes away, well at least the containment of said “Poo”

Diapers is big business.

Multi national conglomerates control the market, the distribution and the pricing.

In 2005 two friends started diapers.com with one goal, just one simple idea : To make life easier for new parents.

Being the father of 4 I know first hand the living nightmare of running out of diapers and believe me it ALWAYS happens in one of those “explosive” poo moments !

Diapers.com saves new parents from having to ever run out of diapers, by having a automatically renewed shipment sent direct to your door.

A simple concept, but one that was clearly brought them success as the company was acquired by Amazon in 2010 (just five years after inception) for a cool $550 million dollars.


VisiondirectlogoVision Direct

My company. This totally self funded startup formed in 2011 with the sole purpose of promoting, selling and distributing consumer products in the Health and Beauty niche.

We pioneered a system of providing potential customers with free samples of products in order to evaluate them before committing to a purchase and ongoing subscriptions.

We practically reinvented the way consumable products could be sold and this allowed our small team of 3 partners explosive growth, selling over $90 million dollars worth of products in just a few short years.


So where is the next great eCom idea going to come from ?

Maybe you ?

One thing is absolutely clear and that is that there has never been a better or easier time to enter the eCom market.

New technology has leveled the playing field to allow new start ups with great idea’s but a limited budgets to compete with the biggest players in the eCom space.

To your online adventure,


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