Lionstrike

Inspired by his son to kick off a new football business

It was seeing his young son struggle to kick a football that inspired Dipesh Morjaria to think there had to be a better way. 

Named Innovation Award winner in the eBay for Business Awards 2017, Dipesh has since carved out a niche eBay business, selling a range of footballs that are specially designed for young children. 

He launched his eBay shop, Lionstrike, in 2017, offering a range of high quality leather footballs that are lighter and easier to master for young players. With glowing feedback flooding in from families and coaches alike, Dipesh now has ambitious plans for expansion.

How did you end up launching your own eBay shop?

“One day I was watching my son, then aged 8, playing in the garden and I noticed he was struggling to kick a football properly. He was desperate to be able to play like his older brother, and it made me think, why is it so difficult for him? And what can I do to help? 

“I decided that a lighter football could be the solution, so I tried to find one online. But when I started searching I found there wasn’t much on offer. There were some size 4 balls, but they were all quite expensive, and there were no size 3 footballs at all! I was really surprised. 

“No one was offering anything suitable for children aged around 3-7 years, and it sparked an idea. I did lots of research, quickly discovering that if you search for ‘light football’ all you find is football-shaped lampshades and cigarette lighters! 

“I thought there was an opportunity here, so I decided to have a go at making something myself” 
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“I thought there was an opportunity here, so I decided to have a go at making something myself. I found tools online that could help me source and connect with suppliers to get a product made. It wasn’t something I’d ever done before, but there were plenty of resources to help guide me.

“I went on to find a supplier and produced a number of samples before finding a formula that worked for me. 

“The Lionstrike footballs I designed are unique – they are 25% lighter than standard footballs and are therefore much easier to kick. There is a size 3 football weighing 210g, suitable for kids aged 3 to 7 years, and a size 4 football, weighing 260g, suitable for kids aged 7 to 13 years. 

“After some thorough testing, I placed my first order for 400 footballs. It was quite a big shipment and I had to store it in the shed.”

When did you sell your first item on eBay?

“The next thing I needed was a route to market and eBay was an easy way to get in front of a consumer audience. I’d personally sold items on the marketplace before and liked how it worked, so set about taking some good photos and drafting product descriptions, to create my listings. 

“The shipment of footballs arrived in February 2016 and I put my first listings up in May. I started to sell a few footballs each week, and month by month the figures keep increasing. 

“In less than two years, I have gone from having a handful of orders each week, to making around 700+ sales a month. Alongside my eBay shop I have a website, but my sales on eBay have always been far greater. I have found the marketplace to be a very simple, yet effective tool for selling products online and it continues to be one of my main sales drivers.”

“The next thing I needed was a route to market and eBay was an easy way to get in front of a consumer audience”
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Dipesh with Rob at the eBay for Business Awards 2017

How did you grow the business?

“The business continues to grow month-on-month, as awareness and visibility for my products increases. 

“While I am working on strengthening the consumer market, I am also starting to look at other potential business-based markets. For example, I have been targeting schools and coaching academies, and have started to gain some traction there.

“I now supply footballs to a number of initiatives including some Wildcats Centres, which is a programme designed to encourage more girls to start playing football. The lighter footballs have been very appealing, especially when it comes to confidence and learning to head the ball. A number of toddler football groups have also started using Lionstrike footballs, because of the benefits they offer for younger children.”

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

“Manufacturing my own products and launching my eBay shop took me out of my comfort zone. I’d never done anything like it before. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m very proud of what I have achieved to date – and of the products themselves. 

“One of the best things is hearing feedback from children who are using the footballs. It has been brilliant. They love the fact that they can actually kick these footballs! 

“Feedback from coaches has also been extremely positive, with the footballs helping encourage children to take part and to develop the right technique.” 

What does the future hold?

“Initially, I plan to concentrate on the consumer-side and increasing sales there. I will also be looking to grow my business connections – including talking to football clubs and their academies – and one day, hope to supply directly to retailers.

“A natural next step would be to add more products to the range that match the benefits of the footballs – i.e football equipment and accessories that are designed specifically for young children, their safety and enjoyment.”

“Manufacturing my own products and launching my eBay shop has been an amazing experience.”
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Why did you enter the eBay for Business Awards?

“When I was working on my listings I saw something come up about the eBay for Business awards. What triggered my interest was that they were looking for inspirational and innovative stories and I thought ‘yes, I have one of those!’, so I took a closer look and decided to go for it. 

“I didn’t have any hope that my entry would come to anything, but it did, which was just fantastic! Winning an award has been great for my business and helping me to spread the word about our products and their benefits to a wider audience.”

Dipesh's top tips


1.

Monitor what’s working

Keep track of your sales, both from a standard profit/loss perspective, but also looking at how those sales are being achieved. If you don’t monitor and measure what you are doing, you’ll never know what’s working and where you should be investing more of your time and effort moving forward. Make sure you look at the stats on a monthly basis.

2.

Pace yourself

When you’re starting out there are loads of routes you could take to grow your business. It’s great to have loads of ideas and to be thinking about where you want to take the business in the future. Keep a note of any ideas you have and work out how you might achieve them and the steps you’ll need to take. Just don’t try and do too much too quickly. Make sure your core offering is strong as it can be, before going too broad. 

3.

Step out of your comfort zone

Don’t be put off just because you’ve never done something before. If you have a great idea for a new product, there are now loads of resources and tools available online that can help you. Do your research and as long as you’re prepared and willing to put the hard work in, if it’s a great idea you will be successful.


Meet Dipesh – when his young son struggled to kick a football, he thought there had to be a better way #ebayawardsuk via @eBayUK_News
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Established
2017
Did you know
Before Dipesh thought up the idea and designs, lightweight footballs didn’t exist
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