THE boss of an online marketplace whose sales rose nearly 900 per cent in a year intends to keep its base in Dorset and invest £10million in the county.

Cas Paton, chief executive of, pledged it would be Dorset’s first “unicorn” tech company – the term for a privately held business valued at a billion US dollars.

His remarks came as OnBuy became a premier business partner of Dorset Chamber.

Poole-based OnBuy launched as a rival to Amazon Marketplace, pledging a “fair, transparent and ethical marketplace” for buyers and sellers.

It currently employs more than 60 people in Poole, where it was founded in 2016. Sales grew by 870 per cent in the year to November 2020, reaching £170million, and are forecast to reach £2billion by the end of 2023.

Mr Paton, named Just Entrepreneurs’ Founder of the Year Award 2020, said: “OnBuy has gone from strength to strength in the last four years and after a record-breaking 2020, we’re going to grow even faster in 2021.

“We’ve set our sights on achieving unicorn status and we’re going to achieve that from our HQ right here in Dorset. Reaching unicorn status is about establishing the credibility of our vision worldwide, and I’m looking forward to taking our ethical e-commerce ecosystem to the world stage.”

He said he and Dorset Chamber chief executive Ian Girling had already had “exciting conversations with BCP Council about finding a new OnBuy HQ, as we’re on the lookout for additional premises in the area too”.

He added: “Although we’ll be investing an additional £10m into expanding our operations in Manchester later this year, on top of the £10m, I see OnBuy’s headquarters remaining in Dorset. The county has huge potential; I want to put Dorset on the world stage for tech.

“Forget Silicon Valley, it’s all about Silicon Beach now and OnBuy will be Dorset’s first unicorn tech company.

“I’m glad to be working with Dorset Chamber to help realise these ambitions for the area and am looking forward to connecting with more Dorset businesses through the network.”

OnBuy plans a worldwide scale-up into more than 140 countries by year-end 2023, starting with 42 initial sites in early 2021.

Ian Girling said: “OnBuy is one of the most exciting, fastest-growing businesses in the county and we’re pleased to be able to support the company in realising its ambitions.

“Businesses like OnBuy help to keep Dorset on the map for business and entrepreneurialism so that we can continue to attract great talent and encourage more ambitious founders, like Cas, to start their businesses in the county. We are looking forward to working with OnBuy as they continue on their upward trajectory.”

OnBuy says its seller base has risen by 10 per cent each month for the past three months, with more than 600 sellers joining in November.