Myldan Auto Design

From modifying his own car to creating a £1million business

Dan Coton has always had a love of cars and it didn’t take long for the young entrepreneur to turn this passion and his talent for designing car parts into a profitable business.

Winning the Young Genius Award, in the eBay for Business Awards 2017, his eBay shop, Myldan Auto Design, sells a range of automotive solutions and bespoke car parts. Founded in 2011, the business now ships worldwide and is on track to achieve turnover of £1million this year.

For Dan, from Market Bosworth Leicestershire, starting his own business was a steep learning curve, but he believes he is living proof that with determination and perseverance, you can achieve anything.

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

“I’ve always loved cars and used to spend a lot of time modifying them when I was younger. My dad and grandad are big car lovers too, so it’s something I’ve been around since I was young.

“I left school at 16, having never been particularly academic. I always preferred the more practical stuff and making things.

“Back in 2011, I was working at my dad’s engineering company. I would make parts for my own car and for friends, who were always asking me to make small components for them. I started to get more and more requests, so I decided to put a few items on eBay, to see what might happen. 

Within a few months I was offering around 50 products and achieving 30-40 sales a day 
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“The first item I put up for sale was a washer. I owned a Renault Clio at the time and would design parts for it. I started to list things like rear spacers, engine parts, and other bits and bobs that I would make in my dad’s factory. 

“It soon took off and I started selling around three items a day. These sales quickly grew and I went on to register Myldan Auto Design in August 2012. I was only 19 years old at the time, and the business world seemed very daunting. Thankfully, the eBay platform is easy to use, so I soon got to grips with managing orders and stock. 

“Within a few months I was offering around 50 products and achieving 30-40 sales a day - which proved very difficult to manage while still working for my dad full time! Six months in I left my job, so I could focus solely on my new business.” 

How did you grow the business?

“As my orders quickly increased, I continued to expand my range of products and soon needed to rent a unit. Demand was so high that I had to take on an employee, to help me deal with the large influx of orders I was receiving.

“I’ve never done anything in terms of promotion, apart from running a few campaigns through eBay promotions manager. I’ve just concentrated on developing more products and designing more parts and the business has grown organically.

“Then between 2014-2015 we hit a rough patch. The business had been growing so fast that cashflow became an issue. I quickly learnt that it's all well and good holding thousands of pounds worth of stock, but if there’s no money in the bank you can’t pay the bills!

“I battled for a good 12 months to keep the business afloat. I took no money out during this period, just to make sure everyone else got paid when they should. 
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“I was very close to giving up - but that's just not me. I changed the dynamics of the company and made it run much more cost effectively. It was hard but looking back now, I believe you must go through the bad times to truly appreciate the good!

“The whole experience taught me a huge lesson about business. I have gone on to improve how I manage my money. One of the key learnings was the importance of focusing on profit margins and knowing in detail what your margins genuinely are. I also started shopping around to find better rates, such as with couriers, and got myself a good accountant, who has been invaluable. 

Turnover is on track to hit £1million this year and the majority of that income will have been generated through eBay sales. 
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“The business has just turned five years old and now employs three people full time. Turnover is on track to hit £1million this year and the majority of that income will have been generated through eBay sales. 

“An average day’s sales are between 150-200 orders, which is fantastic for such a small business. We now ship to the UK and Europe, but also further afield, with Australia being a growing market for us.”

What does the future hold?

“I’ve only just started! I want to take the business a lot further and expect to be recruiting more people in the short term, as we expand our product range. 

“I also plan to start designing more bespoke products again – which is something I personally enjoy doing and is of course, where it all began. It gives me great satisfaction to come up with a new idea and see it take off.

“Overall, I’m living proof that if you have ideas, are prepared to put the work in, and will fight to keep going during the bad times, then you will reap the rewards.”

Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards? 

“I decided to enter the eBay for Business Awards to gain some extra recognition and exposure for the business. I was shocked and delighted to win and my friends now take great joy in calling me a ‘Genius’. My success was even talked about in a local school’s business studies class, which made me chuckle considering I wasn’t personally the greatest fan of school.

“It was great to meet the team from eBay in person and they were a lot more down to earth than I was expecting. But the best part about winning the award has been the access it gave us to the concierge service. It’s such a good service and has really helped me. I used the prize money to take the staff out for a slap-up meal, to thank them for their help in making the business what it is today.”

Dan's top tips


1.

Pay attention to profit margins

Make sure you always know exactly what your profit margins are.

2.

Shop around

Shop around and check you’re always getting the best rates. It’s easy to become complacent when you’ve got a supplier in place, but it pays to review these types of costs regularly.

3.

Stick at it

No matter what type of business you may be running, there will always be good times and bad. The secret is to never give up. It’ll all be worth it in the end, if you’re determined and persevere.


Meet Dan – from modifying his own car to creating a £1million business #ebayawardsuk via @eBayUK_News
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Established
2012
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Dan was only 19 years-old when he started his company
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