• O2 Business reveals rise in next generation of entrepreneurs as 33% of Brits aged 18-24 are likely to give up their job or full-time education to focus on selling products on smartphone apps
  • A year of stay at home orders has fuelled entrepreneurial spirits, with 67% of young people selling at least one item on a smartphone app in that time, driven by the desire to make extra money
  • O2 Business offers small and medium-sized business (SMB) customers tailored flexible packages specifically designed to help businesses as they evolve

A year of stay at home orders has fuelled a surge of entrepreneurial spirits among young Brits who are emerging as a new wave of ‘mobilepreneurs’, according to mobile network O2. Research commissioned by O2 Business and conducted by Censuswide, found that a third of 18-24-year olds are ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ to leave their current job or full-time education (school or university) in order to focus on selling items online using smartphone apps.

Since the start of the first national lockdown in March 2020, many young Brits have turned to their smartphones to help them sell items online. In fact, two-thirds (67%) of 18-24-year olds have attempted to sell at least one item online using smartphone apps, with over 31% of respondents selling 10 or more items. The main driver is the need to make additional money, with 43% telling O2 Business that smartphone sales allowed them to make some extra income either to supplement their existing income or to help support them during their studies.

Retro cards and home workouts drive entrepreneurial boom

While the majority of young people focused on selling clothing (49%), footwear (24%) and video games/consoles (24%), there has also been a significant proportion of young people tapping into trends such as retro cards or fitness equipment, advice or classes.

Of those surveyed, 10% had sold old playing cards (for example, Pokémon Cards) latching on to a boom in retro card trading which in some cases can sell for a small fortune. Recent reports suggest one collection of mint condition Pokémon trading cards could fetch over £100,000, for example.

With Gyms forced to close and a surge in home workouts, fitness advice and online exercise classes were another standout product being sold by young entrepreneurs online, with 9% of young people reporting that they had sold fitness classes or advice online and 14% having sold sporting or fitness equipment. Fitness services and retro cards are joined in the top ten most sold items by clothing, video games and beauty products.

O2 Business research highlights how young people value the ability to be able to sell multiple items from the latest fashion to the must have gym gear all from their smartphone, giving them flexibility to respond quickly to rising demands in new items and/or services.

Top items sold online by young ‘mobilepreneurs’

  1. Clothing – 49%
  2. Footwear – 24%
  3. Video games/consoles – 24%
  4. Mobile phones – 22%
  5. Beauty products – 21%
  6. Homeware – 19%
  7. Food and drink – 14%
  8. Sports equipment/accessories – 14%
  9. Playing cards, i.e Pokémon Cards – 10%
  10. Fitness classes/advice – 9%

’Mobilepreneurs’ value flexibility

Flexibility is one of the key drivers behind young entrepreneurs choosing smartphones to do business. 24% of young people said that smartphone apps made their experience more flexible and 21% said that smartphone apps were their preference because they were quick and easy to use on-the-go.

O2 Business recognises the value in flexibility for SMBs launching the ultimate flexible package with tariffs that give customers the control and choice that they plan they sign up for will continue to suit their ever changing company needs as they evolve.

The market-leading suite of flexible solutions includes automatic data rollover and flexible tariffs so customers can flex their data allowance up and down each billing cycle. As well as flexible add-on business apps such as Microsoft Office 365 so you stay productive no matter where they need to work, plus a range of business contract lengths, from a rolling 30-day plan, through to three years.

Amelia Murray, Depop seller and A-Level student, 18, said: “Using my phone is a really simple way to make money selling my old clothes, or new clothes I’ve found in charity and vintage shops and invested in to sell on. All it takes is posting a picture of me modelling the clothes and waiting for a buyer to contact me, it really is that easy.

“Since starting on Depop, I’ve sold over 80 items and made over £1000. I’ve also recently bought a sewing machine to help me customise and tailor clothes. It’s definitely something I would love to be able to do full-time.

“Managing it all from my phone means that it’s also super flexible, allowing me to speak to potential buyers whether I’m at home or out and about. I think this has definitely helped me become more successful!”

Kate Mulligan-Brown, Director of SMB Marketing at O2 Business said:

“Younger people have been one of the most affected groups during this crisis, so it is wonderful to see that so many have shown an entrepreneurial streak by selling items online over the last twelve months.

“In our increasingly digital world, the next generation of mobilepreneurs are showing us that all you need is a smartphone to start a business. It’s really as simple as that.

“We are committed to supporting both small businesses and side hustlers, as well as our larger medium business customers. Giving them the flexibility to manage their businesses on-the-go while also providing digital expert advice from O2’s Business customer service and specialist Account Managers to help them along the way.”

For more information on O2’s flexible Business plans available to SMBs, please visit: http://www.o2.co.uk/business/why-o2/flex-your-business.


Notes to Editors:


The research was conducted by Censuswide, with 2,001 respondents aged 18-24 in the UK between 12.02.21 – 16.02.21. Censuswide abide by and employ members of the Market Research Society which is based on the ESOMAR principles.

Journalists can contact the Virgin Media O2 press office on:
press@virginmediao2.co.uk 01753 565656
Virgin Media
press enquiries
press enquiries