Editor's note: Check out these entrepreneurs' top secrets in our eBay Millionaires slideshow.
David Wirtenberg, 28
Outrageous Auctions (eBay User ID: outrageousauctions)
New York City
Projected 2006 Sales: $8 million to $10 million
Description: Engagement rings, wedding bands and other jewelry
Turning Talk Into Sales: David Wirtenberg loves to talk. "I could talk your ear off," he says. "I love what I do. I'm a very passionate person." His ability to make sales, and his prior experience in sales for Bear Stearns and Auto Data Processing, helped him build his business from scratch in 2003. His father-in-law became his inspiration and behind-the-scenes mentor. "He said, 'Let's see if we can sell jewelry on the internet,'" Wirtenberg recalls. "I went to 47th Street in Manhattan. I knocked on every door. I didn't know anything about diamonds at the time. I was looking for suppliers, for an education, anything." He ended up buying a couple of diamond rings, and he immediately sold them for a profit on eBay. "I thought, 'This could be something.'"
Many Facets to His Business: Today, Wirtenberg sells through his websites (www.outrageousauctions.comand www.outrageousdiamonds.com) and through eBay. "I use eBay to get new customers and new traffic," he says. "Most of my diamond auctions start at 99 cents. Sometimes I lose money; sometimes I make money. Whatever makes the customer happy, I do. Our packaging is second to none. Sometimes we pack our diamonds in Faberge eggs [for free]. Once you have customers, you have those customers for good."
Personal Touch: Wirtenberg speaks fondly of the personal connections he has made and recalls the time he and his wife, Danielle, personally delivered a $14,000 ring to a customer in California. "The fringe benefits touch you deep inside," he says. "You play a huge role in people's lives. I have provided advice on people's engagements. I feel I am blessed every single day with the direction this business has taken."
Marat Denenberg, 25
Narro Corp. (eBay User ID: narro)
Hackensack, New Jersey
Projected 2006 Sales: $1.8 million to $2.3 million
Description: New and refurbished disk drives and other computer hardware
An Education Outside the Classroom: Marat Denenberg was introduced to eBay when he was a student at Rutgers University, where he eventually obtained bachelor's degrees in computer science and economics. His roommate encouraged him to check out the auction site as a great place to find merchandise at low prices. "I used to avoid eBay because I thought it was only a place to buy and sell collectibles," says Denenberg, who soon learned that selling on eBay was a perfect way to put his double major into practice. "I discovered I could buy refurbished DVD drives from factories. I bought them in bulk, attached front plastic covers I had purchased separately, and sold them on eBay for a profit. Because the drives were now attractive, people were interested and bought them. [Each] cover only cost 15 cents, but it virtually doubled or tripled the value of the drive."
Secrets to Success: Like many full-time eBay entrepreneurs, Denenberg uses a third-party auction service pro-vider-in this case, a company called ChannelAdvisor-to build volume. He has also used his computer science background to develop customized software that streamlines shipping and addressing. These days, he completes 50 to 80 transactions per day, and averages $4,000 in daily sales. Having negotiated volume discounts with UPS, he also attracts a good deal of business by offering free shipping to customers who purchase directly through his website.
Planning Ahead: Even though he owns a successful eBay business and is leasing a 4,400-square-foot warehouse, Denenberg is not one to rest on his laurels. "I'm pushing the business forward on a daily basis," he says. "To a large extent, there's no finish line."
Eran Dekel, 30
DeCalo Fashion (eBay User ID: decalofashion)
Mineola, New York
Projected 2006 Sales: More than $2 million
Description: Luxury designer menswear at 40 percent to 80 percent below retail prices
It's All Relative: Family members who are entrepreneurs helped Eran Dekel start his own fashion company. His brother-in-law, Darren Pamatat, founded SpaLook.com, which sells high-end skin-care products. "I saw him make millions from zero," says Dekel. But it was a chance connection with an uncle who owns a clothing store that started him in the fashion business. "My uncle asked me to help him liquidate some designer suits on the internet. Right away, I thought of eBay," Dekel says. "When the first suit sold for a 300 percent profit, a light went [on] in my head." The same uncle helped him find wholesale suppliers-one of the biggest hurdles for any beginning eBay seller.
Engineering the Sale: eBay challenges individuals to do their own market research to select, price and present merchandise. Dekel, who graduated from Cooper Union in New York City with a degree in engineering, saw such activities as an extension of his studies. "The problem-solving and analytical capabilities I learned in college really prepared me for this type of business," he says. "You have to perform both quantitative and qualitative reasoning in determining what products to sell and [you need to know] how to think outside the box when it comes to completing transactions."
A Risk-Free Zone: Selling apparel on the internet is no easy task. Sellers have to build trust among customers who can't physically try on their clothing. "We offer a money-back guarantee, free shipping and a free silk tie with every suit purchase," says Dekel. "We try to make it as risk-free as possible."
Branching Out: After finding success on eBay, Dekel was able to launch his own DeCalo Fashion website. And he shows boundless enthusiasm. "The potential for success is within each individual," he says. "You can't be afraid to take risks or try something new."