Simon Slade worked for Hewlett-Packard full-time while he sold on New Zealand’s local online auction site, Trade Me, on the side. This arrangement wasn’t particularly unusual, but what did surprise Simon was how many people inquired about where he found his suppliers for selling on Trade Me. The sheer volume of these inquiries made Simon realize there was a demand for this information.

Simon had found his idea, but having just graduated Griffith University only two years prior, he knew he would need help bringing his business dream to life. He thought of Mark Ling, with whom he had played squash when they were teenagers. Simon knew Mark’s skillset would complement his own, and after discussing the concept with Mark, they eagerly decided to join forces.

Launching SaleHoo

Simon and Mark each contributed $500 to a joint fund to start their business. With such meager funds, they tried to beg, borrow or promise an IOU for whatever they could. Their first programmer worked on an IOU basis, and Simon served as the sole customer service representative for their first year of business.

Eventually, the daily grind of working full-time at Hewlett-Packard and developing SaleHoo on the weekends and evenings became too much for Simon. He took a leap of faith, quit his job at Hewlett-Packard and pursued developing SaleHoo full-time. Just eight months after its launch in 2005, SaleHoo reached 10,000 members, and membership has continued to grow ever since. Today, SaleHoo boasts more than 100,000 members.

Inside SaleHoo

The foundation of SaleHoo is an online directory of more than 8,000 prescreened suppliers providing 1.6 million products. Each supplier has undergone a rigorous vetting process to ensure its authenticity as a legitimate supplier. Advanced search filters allow users to narrow their results by newest or oldest suppliers, region, minimum order requirements, global shipping availability, sales tax ID requirements and supplier types.

But SaleHoo is much more than a directory. It also offers over 50 free video lessons on how to successfully sell online. The lessons explain how to set up a business, how to dropship (an arrangement in which the supplier packages and ships the item for the seller), understanding the different types and advantages of suppliers, importing logistics and more.

The SaleHoo Community Forum and blog both provide additional insight into the world of online sales. Members can post and respond to questions, and SaleHoo employees also reply with expert advice and post helpful information. The blog explores different sales niches and reports on current industry news and trends.

SaleHoo also provides the Market Research Lab, in which sellers can use actual sales statistics to compare products, explore sales trends and review competition stats. With this resource, members can base their decisions on data rather than guessing what might be a successful product.

With SaleHoo Stores, sellers can avoid price wars by building their own online storefronts. SaleHoo Stores designs can be customized, and the service offers built-in marketing tools, all of which can be set up with minimal computer expertise.


  1. Sounds like they’re dedicated to bringing great deals online! It’s always awesome to learn how a company started out.


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