113: The 2017 eBay Shine Awards Winner – Angie Cardona-Nelson

Angie Nelson an immigrant from Colombia and 2017 eBay SHINE Awards Winner for Small Business started an electronics recycling company with her husband over 9 years ago. They quickly discovered that eBay was an amazing platform to extend the life of retired electronics from Companies. This has allowed them to create 13 jobs and divert millions of pounds of eWaste from the landfills. This accomplishment has earned Angie an Ambassador role with eBay's Government relations Team.


Interesting Notes

  • eBay Shine Award is a program eBay has started on 2016. It aims to bring the best in the eBay community. This year, there are 2,500 sellers who submitted their eBay story. Out of those 2,500, 15 are the finalists: 3 sellers each in the Global Business Category, Charitable Business Category, Young Entrepreneur Category, Rising Star Category, and Minority or Woman-Owned Business Category.
  • Any eBay seller can join the eBay Shine Awards. The seller has only to submit his/her own eBay story and make it shine. The seller needs to tell why he/she deserve to win; what makes him/her different from other sellers; and how eBay has changed his/her life. Then the eBay team will narrow down the list.
  • Angie is one of the finalists under Minority or Woman-Owned Business Category. She did not win though, it is Mellisa Crook.
  • To Angie's surprise, she won the grand award, the 2017 SHINE Awards for Small Business. This grand award is selected from among the 15 finalists. Top-notched eBay people and the 2016 Shine Award Winner, Laurie Wong, did the selection.
  • Angie admitted that she had second thoughts on sending her story. She was thinking to do it in the next year or so. She might have a background, but to think that there are million of sellers out there. She did not think her story is great. Then, she asked herself what is stopping her to submit. She realized that she worked very hard. And her life has changed because of eBay. With that, she submitted her story.
  • Before her winning the eBay 2017 Shine Awards, Angie plays an Ambassador with eBay's Government relations team in Washington, D.C. They have a tough job trying to get on the side of the small businesses – help, defend and protect sellers. She met with the Congressman in her district. She had meetings with all the sellers in the area. They talked about the taxes and the across the borders export-import fees.
  • She also had an opportunity to go to Washington for eBay's Advocacy Day. There were 25 sellers from around the United States who meet with the Congressmen, Legislators, and Senators. Sellers told their story proving that small businesses are moving the economy of the United States and not just the big corporations.
  • As a small business owner, she has 13 employees. She also hires web designers, accounting, and other local people, who she believes are all moving the economy.
  • Angie felt extremely lucky because a week before going to Washington, she got a phone call from the White House. The White House invited her to a meeting for the Small Business National Week.
  • She finds it fun to be able to be at the White House advocating for all the small businesses in the online community.
  • Angie describes her old self as more reserved, shy, and less participative in all the social media platform. She wished that if these and that happen, somebody would go and say something. But, she thought that if everybody has the same mentality as hers, then nobody is going to do anything. So, she takes the opportunity to go and speak up. That changes the trajectory of her life.
  • Angie and her husband have no background in recycling. Nine years ago, they were newly wed doing a storage auction, in a low scale. They were doing the auctions even before all these TV shows came out and became popular.
  • As newly wed, all they have is a bed. They needed a coffee table. They didn't have the money to buy a new one. So, they went to an auction to look for a coffee table.
  • They doubted they could go to the auction after a night of dancing and party from their wedding celebration. But something's telling them to go. So, they gave in to their guts and went. They went to an abandonment auction – a company that went out of business. There were a few people. People started bidding on things. Angie and her husband bid everything only for a dollar. They thought they need a cabinet for their files. They did a bid on a filing cabinet, a monitor and a couple of things. They did not know that they were actually bidding for the whole building. They spend $400 and were told that they took the whole building. So they started to look for a storage facility. They ended up with hundreds of filing cabinets and hundreds of monitors.
  • With that, they started some flea market and local sales. They realized that there are ways to get rid of stuff so fast where you don't have to rent storage facilities. That is how they started their recycling business, eWaste Direct.
  • Today, eWaste Direct picks donations from a lot of companies in the Bay area in San Francisco, Silicon Valley, and Tygh Valley in California.
  • eWaste Direct has differents ways of doing things depending on the company. eWaste picks up the items for free, no matter how small or big it is.
  • eWaste Direct has systems in place where people can have peace of mind for data erasing, the most delicate part of eWaste. When eWaste pick the hard drive, the drives are placed in safe containers. eWaste bring it to a special and secure room, with cameras. The hard drives are plug to eWaste's specific software which wipes the data three times. After erasing, eWaste gives the owners a Certificate of Destruction so that owners have the peace of mind.
  • A Certificate of Destruction contains a full blown information of the hard drive's serial number and how many times it has wiped. It can show you that data is zeroed out and everything is gone.
  • In cases when the hard drive has issues and it won't go through eWaste Direct's software, eWaste will physically destroy it. They do it in the most responsible way possible.
  • eWaste Direct has a 5,000 sq. ft warehouse where they sort stuff that they gathered. It sorts the stuff according to aluminum, metals, or plastics. That is the recycling part, the first phase. The second phase is the research. Research is where the whole eBay takes part.
  • Angie is still amazed at herself for all the crazy things she saw and did. The fun part is that eBay has so many tools. One can do research very easily and she loves it. Every day is like Christmas; when they see their driver with lots of loads.
  • There are a lot of opportunities, but at the same time, she has to be in the game. The commodity prices are declining. So, she has to go to the companies and get the items and try to squeeze every little item with some little money out of it.
  • As husband and wife team, one of the most nerve-racking moments they have is when they signed a 5-year contract for their place. They cannot sleep for 2 weeks.
  • The other nerve-racking moment is when they hire their first employee. It was a growing pain. Most of their employees have been with them since the start of their business. Angel is their longest employee who has been with them for 8 years or so. Angie's assistant has been with them for 7 years. The turn around of their employees is extremely low because everybody is happy.
  • The recycling world is about volume price. It is a surplus and over time it adds up. It is patience and a lot of research. It is maximizing your shipping. How you are going to ship it can make or break you.
  • At present, eWaste Direct have 1 truck and 2 Vans. They are expanding and growing. They will hire another employee by the end of the year.
  • With the prize Angie got in the eBay Shine Award, she will give bonuses to their employees. Then the rest, she will save up to buy another truck.
  • Angie is thankful to eBay which gives its support to all small businesses. Because of this, it has also created job opportunities out of these small businesses like her.
  • Go and reach out to Angie and her team. They can help you for all your recycling needs.

Advice, Tips, and Tricks

  • 1. eBay has re-branded, growing and expanding. It is perfect timing for those who have jumped in. There are so many forums, Facebook groups, eBay communities, and eBay newsroom. There are so many resources everywhere that can help you become successful. There is a lot of data on eBay seller hub. All these data are for free. There are so many things to help you become successful. All you need to do is research and follow the eBay guidelines.
  • 2. Be connected with the eBay community. Everybody always wants to help. Everybody is willing to answer questions. Questions like “Hey! Can anybody in this group help me look at my website? Are my items look okay?” Although there are people that are selling things like you, there is no competition. Everybody is here to win.
  • 3. Go and Sign up in all the different eBay support groups.
  • 4. Make sure to take fantastic pictures. The more pictures you take, the higher you get into the search engines.
  • 5. Make sure your listings are clear and concise. Make it short but perfect. Don't tell long stories because people do not read long stories especially now that about 40% to 50% of the sales are done through on mobile phones. The span is only 7 seconds. You only have little time to capture the attention of the potential buyers. So, make it attractive.

Quotes

  • “You will never know until you enter!”
  • “You don't always win, but you have to be in the game to gain something.”
  • “Follow your guts and then come home and sleep later.”
  • “There is only so much that you can get rid so fast where you don't have to rent storage facilities.”
  • “It's amazing! I can't be any happier to be on eBay right now and to be a part of the eBay community.”
  • “There are a lot of opportunities but at the same time you just have to be in the game.”
  • “There is no competition. Everybody is here to win!”

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