Startup to $15 Billion: Finding Your Life's Work with Shopify's Harley Finkelstein
Everybody what's up its chase welcome, another episode of the Chase Jarvis live show here on creative life you know this show this is where I sit down with amazing humans, and I, unpack their brains do everything, I can to help you live your dreams and career in hobby and in life my. Guest today is a lifelong, entrepreneur. He, is the CEO oh, the chief operating, officer, of the. Most, badass company, that I was, probably friends with the earliest. Shopify, my guest is Harley, Finkelstein. I. Guess. What's up it's great to be a man thanks how many years in the making a long time even trying to get me on the show for a long time yeah but, we first, I think we met each other five years ago through the build of business competition yep which is really fun that was incredible, and that was you you had like a hundred employees then, I think 90, or 76 yeah and there we have more than 3000 so that's been nice so you've quite the journey so, that's obviously one of the things I want to talk about today the. Well, our. Origin, story would be fun to trace back because I think the build the business competition, which you you. And, launch. With a bunch of peers, and friends of ours that mutual. Acquaintances, I do, want to talk about that but I want to talk about the. Way back most. Of the folks who I know who built what's it like I don't know what your market gap is 15 billion or some crate. Like crazy, came with 60 employees now 15 billion dollar market, cap publicly. Traded company, out, of Ottawa not, ok Canada. But. I'm I don't know your your, entrepreneurial. Journey so. I'm saving it for this very moment or there's no no research, because, I know that, most people who have built businesses like you have had. This entrepreneurial. Like. Vein some, something. Like goes way back to their childhood where they were like washing cars or selling. Crawdads. Or selling, golf balls which I used to like watch golfers hit the ball into the water I'd go get it and saw it back home for like five this is dangerous for thing well. Let's look at me yeah. Plenty. Of times so what's, your entrepreneurial, journey because you know the you know the show really well I don't need to explain it to you yeah so, my journey kind of starts back when I was 13 years old. I. I. Grew up in a sort of suburb. Of Montreal, in Canada and around, 13 years old you start going to bar mitzvahs my. Friends at my Jewish school, friends a high bar mitzvahs and I, remember seeing these DJ's, at these bar mitzvahs and to me they were just the coolest people in the whole they, have the headphones on and they were mixing, and they were dancing and just it looked like a lot of fun and so. I decided I want to be a DJ and. The problem was I had absolutely. No skills, I'm. Still pretty short but I was like four foot nothing at the time and, so, and YouTube wasn't around so I couldn't teach myself how to DJ but any was I started calling around and seeing if someone would hire me and turned, out no one's gonna hire a 13 year old DJ with no DJ skills and, sooo, mad and huh it, just wasn't always gonna happen and so I decided I would start my own DJ company, and, hire myself. That, was it I just kind of decided. It my dad actually who's always been supportive with, all my crazy, ideas when. I made me business cards which gave me this great validation, that maybe I could do this thing and, I went and bought some DJ equipment and taught, myself how to beat mix just counting, beats 1 to 8 and and and figuring. Out a fade and just kind of the basics of DJ did you go to the library I didn't I didn't go to library I just kind of bought this equipment in my basement it just just figured stuff out and again I had to buy a lot of CDs because obviously that was only way to do there's no Serato then or digital, music but.
I Bottled this stuff and borrowed, money from my parents and actually my dad was great because he, lent me the money wasn't, much money was like five or six hundred bucks but he taught me about interest, he's like all right well I'm gonna lend you this money but on a weekly basis I'm gonna come back and collect the interest that you owe me and eventually, you're gonna pay back the principal and, so it's a great lesson for me in finance but I ended up teaching, myself at a DJ and then going around the neighborhood and trying to convince neighbors, to let me deejay bar mitzvahs and birthday parties and weddings and barbecues. And I. Ended up doing like five hundred parties, between, like 13 years old and 17 years old and by. The time I was seven that's 100 a year or yeah it's a lot yeah and, every, week like, we had the nine o'clock show the midnight show that I was, in high school right I was I was a kid and, I ended up doing a lot of these parties and actually falling in love with the business side of the business not, necessarily the DJ the arts side of it I loved, sort of a couple things I learnt then was learning. How to read the crack yeah right like just because I want to play hip-hop I know those guys want to listen to disco I'm gonna buy disco, also. Making sure that the client loved me before the party started was this easy, way to ensure things went well my, sort, of philosophy was that they loved me before the party no matter how the party goes it's, gonna be good right just making sure creating a good vibe good energy with the clients and that, was kind of my first journey and to entrepreneurship, and I. Still. Known to. Embarrass, embarassingly. DJ, some shop like Christmas parties to this day although, last year my wife said all right this is it you're like you're not cool anymore that's right we're doing there's 3,000, people they actually want to have a good time yeah and it's kind of embarrassing it's, an old do definitely know like you know good new music yeah we cool, yeah so that was that was it for me well it's a very common thread, for people, who've been in the show and there's been some whoppers, like you've built something from nothing and that's a really common thread that there's this early. Early. Sort, of makings of a business, person or entrepreneur or a creator where. Did you get it so, you do, you do, tribute it to anything in particular as. Your, parents particularly entrepreneurial. Or and, not really I mean Mike my dad was an entrepreneur not. A particularly good one at that but. In. The same way so entrepreneurship. Solved the problem that I had which is I want to be a DJ and, no one would hire me and so I used entrepreneurship. To solve my problem, and that, was like a 94, something, like that or 95 90 95 but, if you go back to like, 56:59. 56.57. My, grandparents. Came to Canada from Hungary it was the hyerin revolution canada had laid in like forty thousand immigrants and, my. Grandfather, had a problem which was he had survived, it to put food on the table he had no money, no education he, didn't speak English and so, he, started selling eggs at a farmers market and, I, think in some ways in. The same way that he used entrepreneurship. To solve his problem which was frankly, poverty, yeah and I used it to solve my problem which was this passion, for entrepreneurship, I sort, of always Susan's passion for DJing I always sort of assumed that entrepreneurship. Just maybe just be this thing this catalyst, just problem solved yeah and and. Actually a couple years after that I was, an, undergrad was in college it, was 2001 it was when some McGill University Montreal and, my. Dad wasn't able to support me anymore and I found myself in another problem. Which was I either, had to move back to live with my parents and they were living in South Florida at the time or stay, in Montreal, and support, myself and kind, of take care of my tuition and ended. Up building a t-shirt business then and so once again, entrepreneurship.
Was The solution my problem in this case it wasn't this passion, for DJing and not being able to get hired it was I, need, to make money and I needed to do it concurrently while being in class and so, I spent four. Years of my, undergrad and college years, studying. A little bit really building this t-shirt business and making, t-shirts for about 50 universities across Canada and, again. I just was it was another reminder, that my, life's work no matter what I'm gonna do, will, involve entrepreneurship, in some way well. Is. There a so. There's the theme then you've presented that very clearly as solving, problems, now. I'm gonna fast, forward to today which. Is I. Think if you've been, living under a rock and you don't know Shopify, has it's. A company, that basically. Provides, well I'll let you explain it I was gonna do it you you you you explain what shop I was actually curious to hear you could explain it but but I'll take, take the lay, up there, so. The. Roots of the company is that back. In 2004, we, were trying to sell snowboards on the Internet and in O four there was basically two ways to sell a product online one. Way was you paid, a million dollars to have some custom, enterprise, solution built and that's what you know Walmart did and all the big ya become just like that did and the other way was you would sell on a marketplace, like Amazon, or Ebay or Etsy yeah and the. First option was too expensive and the second option although it was less expensive he didn't really allow you to build your own brand yeah, and so this viewer is someone else's mark yeah you were renting customers, effectively, from the marketplace and there, was and that's right and and and in, actuality. The. Successor. Your business was tied to someone else's, interest. In helping you and. So. This really really smart programmer named Toby who you know our CEO and Founder toby decided that he wants to sell snowboards online and didn't. Find any good software and so he wrote this piece of software to, sell these snowboards and within, a matter of a, year or so he. Started realizing, there are people out there like, me who wanted, to use the software to. Sell their own products, and he decided by 2005, that snowboards, is maybe a good idea but, the software behind the online snow wear business was a great idea it's like during a gold rush so Excel depicts that exactly that's right yeah Corrections Levi's jeans that's how they started rate during the gold rush as well and. So we basically, spent the next you know up, until probably around 2013. Becoming, what, I think is the leader in helping small. Businesses, build great online stores and we, had tens of thousands, or maybe even a hundred thousand, stores, up until that point use. Us to build great online businesses, and really. The the, tenants were make it really easy so if you want to use email you can build a store on Shopify within like an hour make it super scalable make it easy to customize and. That really was the core, of the business and by, 2013. It dawned on us that if we want to be relevant as retail. And commerce develops we have to sort of rethink what is the value that Shopify, provides to our merchants and, it it, looked like the future of retail wasn't, gonna be necessarily, just online or was it gonna be offline that, may be the future retail, is gonna be retail everywhere, and, if, we want to be a company that can use the lead in commerce and retail we have to provide a product that allows entrepreneurs, and, small business to sell everywhere, they want online offline. On Facebook on Instagram and, marketplaces, and, and. That's, kind of what we've been working on to, date and I'm gonna here's in so, now it's been about, it's. Been about 13 years or so 14, years or so since we were done on this thing and. We have more than 600,000, stores and the interesting, part is even though Shopify. Was always built for small businesses, and still that's who we care most about we've.
Seen Companies like, Procter, & Gamble and Unilever, and PepsiCo. And, and. Kanye. And Kylie, and Drake and all these big brands all build stores on Shopify, and, what's fascinating is, that we're, seeing now some of these larger companies beginning, to act really entrepreneurial, but these, 600,000, stores are so on our platform, they've, sold more than 60 billion dollars on Shopify and if. You've bought a really great product that you actually love in the last little while online and the, experience was amazing there's, a really good chance that was shot by smart it's it's, true and that's, like. Not. Blowing smoke like, it is a, legit. Product. It is beautiful, it is fast at the backend is like I, we. Are one of those folks that creative life we built our store from the ground up only, because we have a bunch of nuances, to our platform but obviously. We were a community of tens of millions of creators, and Spotify. Is far and away the leading, platform. For chakra, bite hotspot sorry. Like. Spotify, is great they're amazing, but, Shopify is the leading the, leading purveyor, of the, stories, and so. One, of the things though there's a handful of ways I want to take this now so put a pin in how, awesome Shopify, is and, what it stands for. How. Did you decide. That. SMB. Or like, this this market, of independent. Creators and entrepreneurs, and, watchmakers. And like, when I did, the build a business competition with you you guys will go there in a second I was just shocked, at the variety, of. Types. Of people who are selling them stuff on your platform. It. Seems like that's but they're still at Target it's not you're not for everybody's, because as soon as you try and build something for everybody you build it for nobody who. Do you serve how, did you choose them was a default, because you, know honestly when I look, at the entrepreneurial, landscape this is one of the biggest problems I see as people don't know who to build stuff for and. I like people to solve a problem that they have because chances are there are other people who have that problem but, how, are you focusing, on yeah so, you got six hundred thousand of these people now so I think I think you said it best which is that, Shopify. Is the software we ourselves if we're looking for and. We. Kind of scratch her our own itch by building this great piece of software and I think the, reason that he was really meaningful and important to us to help these. Creators these small businesses the entrepreneurs, is for. A long time they just didn't have the same tools at the big companies were able to afford or. The big companies were able to get it wasn't affordable, wasn't accessible to them and in many ways I think the idea was what, if we gave creators. And entrepreneurs. The same tools that the biggest companies, use. But, make it really easy really, simple really scalable, and super, affordable yeah what would happen what. If we effectively, bent, to learning curve for entrepreneurs around the world well what, would end up happening and. So. It was kind of this it was it was obvious for us to always focus on the entrepreneurs, and even today even though we have merchants, that are doing you, know, hundreds. Of millions of hours a year our core. Focus is a launcher, and in fact what's funny is a lot of the big companies that use Shopify today. If. You ask them why they use Shopify, they would say because, we need to be a little more entrepreneurial, and so, they, are actually now as opposed to the small guys trying to emulate the big guys the big guys are actually trying to lead small guys because entrepeneurs, now are kind of are kind of they've kind of figured it out yeah and they're doing really amazing stuff and so, that.
Was Always really important, to us and actually the, problem, though with small businesses, or entrepreneurs is, that there. Is this risk. Adverse Anette some have you know and actually that's the whole point of the build a business competition so the story there is. Way. Back in like 2009 2010, a mutual, friend of ours Tim Ferriss now and I were talking and Toby were talking and we, talked. About Shopify, and where it was going and what was possible, and Tim, had this really amazing. Piece. Of feedback which was Shopify. Product is super easy but, most people, believe starting, a business is either expensive. And/or complicated, and that if Shopify, really wants to be a company that changes, the dynamic and really creates. More entrepreneurs, that. Hurdle you got to do something, you gotta incentivize, that and, the. Idea was what if we bribe people, to. Start businesses and, Tim. At this crazy idea that we should start this competition where. People start a brand new business on Shopify, and the store with the highest sales after six, months or eight months would, win a hundred grand. Great. Idea the, problem is we didn't have our money. But. The cool part was we figured that if we launched it in Jack January, first by, the time we actually have to pay the. Winner which is like June or August or September we. Actually may have confindent. 500 grand we could probably finally, over the next over the next you know six or eight months and and. That was it we launched this build the business competition, in 2010, and we. Had like 1,300, people sign up and the. First winner was gonna called DODOcase, at, a San Francisco which makes his beautiful moleskin, like iPad kiss, it was amazing, to us was these. Are people that may have not started, this. Business if it weren't for this Perot bill kick in the butt like, start right now and we're gonna centum eyes you to do so and over. The course of the next you know four, five years or so to build a business competition. Created. Tens of thousands, of new businesses, and it, turned out that giving, them a hundred grand wasn't good enough anymore because some of them were building, multi-million. Dollar businesses, yeah they don't I don't, know if I can go out of my way for that hundred okay exactly so we instead did was we said okay what if we incentivize, them by, giving. The winners this great experiences, like spending an afternoon with you or spending. Going, to Richard. Branson's Island for a week Necker Island or. Spending, time with these incredible mentors like Seth Godin, and Tina Eisenberg, and and and, people, that we really deeply respect. On. The show have, that other, person ever that's cool so.
It's, It's, been this amazing thing and and. Actually. This. Is taken full circle. One. Of the winners of the, year that you participated, I was a company called him the MT watch's movement, movement gorgeous. Great watches and Jake and Kramer started this little company in there in their dorm room sign. Up for the build a business competition and being one of the winners got to spend some time with you and and actually. They're there well, John exactly well John was a was, was part of any little John Gary Gary Vaynerchuk was there Tim Tina, Tina, Rothenberg. Slowly, Shalini, thanks yeah. That. Was a that was a super fun it's pretty cool he actually just saw a Facebook flashback, in that whole of that whole crew and. Actually, last week movement. Sold for a hundred million dollars to. Move out it was the largest watch companies, and so. That. Is pretty cool and pretty meaningful and and that was not long enough for them to sell for a hundred million writers it that was just like they just started just started right but actually that's what's happening right now is is these brands, the. Pace. Of growth and the, trajectory of some of these brands that we're seeing start on Shopify are unlike anything that the business world has ever seen you. Talk, about you know on the front page of, Forbes. Front cover of Forbes last month, this was Kylie Jenner who started a little, lipstick, company, on Shopify, and and now. Has a billion-dollar business that she was a hundred percent by herself, these. Stories, where, this entrepreneur, are, competing, with the biggest car ladies in the planet just, really didn't exist ten, twenty thirty years ago and, without, tea or 15 years ago that's right and we're seeing a lot of those today it's, crazy, how. How, fast it seems to afflict all, right so that a lot of nice things to say about Shopify. A lot of nice things to say about success, the entrepreneurs, have found success. But. Let's go to the other side yeah because I think if any anybody out there and the folks at home they know they've they're. Largely, on. Their, path and they're realizing that oh man this is hard and so. Give. Me a couple I'd like to say give, me that the first biggest. Pain, point that you. Had building. Shopify. Suits, so let, me take actually back before that I talked. About a DJ company and, I talked about a t-shirt company what. I didn't talk about is the 15, companies in between and, actually. Shame. On me for not talking about those failures but actually shame on us as an entrepreneurial, community for not talking about our failures we. Gravitate. To these success, stories these. Sort. Of, tales. Of, incredible. You know courage, and and success. And actually, I think you do a disservice to. Aspiring. Entrepreneurs, because we sort of glamorize this here and, it's. Kind of yeah right and, it's, I need to do a better job talking. About some of those stories we, talk about Shopify, growing so big and having all these merchants we don't talk about the fact that it, was really tough for us to raise any money as this little, company in Ottawa Canada he, was really because I think a lot of and first of all like you don't have to do it a lot of companies that he just talked about how much had had. Movement, watches very little compared, ever and yeah I think so yes, it sold 400 million idea raised 500. Grand togher yeah probably fans and families no surprise a family that's right institution so just, to be clear to use Mark Cuban's advice who's also part of building business. This. The minute you've raised money that's your first loss sort of because you should build a business or you don't have to raise money well it's a promissory, note that eventually you got to pay them back more than what you're taking for sure and for some businesses you, know if you can if you can rate if you know how to spend it if you don't take a dollar and turn to a dollar eighty and it's just this marketing machine I can understand why more dollars equal more dollars and it could make sense but, for most of surahs on Shopify they're completely self fining yeah but.
There, Were some really really tough times for us over the years and. Just. To be really a first roadblock you're like need. Money can't raise money well okay so let's talk about like location. Geography, okay I know there's sort of this meme. Right now that the business has become, geographically. Agnostic. That. Is more true today than ever before but. It. Is certainly easier to raise since, certain place and others Ottawa. Canada which is the capital of the, country it's a wonderful, place and we'll. All live there the rest of my life I really love it I think is one of those underrated cities in North America but, there's no venture community there, isn't this group of angel investors, that, have made all this money in a previous, startup that are now paying it forward yeah, there was nothing like that in fact he. Was the opposite it's it's a ferret it's like DC there's a lot of people there that work for the government there was a bit of a risk inversion to it and. I think it. Was really difficult to convince people that actually. This is a company worth investing, in did you think about moving we, did in fact a couple investors, in the early days pretty. Silicon Valley investors, were. Making, their checks conditional, on us moving into the valley and by. That point like you know we just we like to Ottawa you like what was happening there it was a families. Were there was. It hard to walk away from money, and the cheque and the Silicon, Valley thing, of course it is because there's this this it's not just the money it's also the validation, that these, great iconic, investors, that write blog posts about whatever. Want. To invest in you and you just want you want that validation, and, in the interaction what happened was there was this white paper that came out called, the ten laws of sass businesses, software, services our business model and we. Basically memorizes, white paper because it gave us the, nomenclature, that even today were on our business with we, look the fun page and on the front page it said who. The author was there was a partner in Bessemer Venture Partners codes, in New York City. And. Through. That we just reached out to those those, ambassadors and said we'd love to talk to you and and come, up to Canada and in the end we actually found a really great investment in there um but, I would add summer I best summer yeah I best my best Nora's original our first major investment, led our series a but, actually. In hindsight the best thing we ever did was staying in Canada because in sing in Ottawa there, is something, to be said about having, a, certain focus that I think we wouldn't have had in the valley, the. People that work at Shopify typically, worked there for a very long time relative, to our peers that, are in Silicon Valley instead of great context, and stuff and ultimately, I think it was a right decision there, are so many there's, something to be said about being the, best in. Your area yeah and I'm not sure we would ever have been the, best company in Silicon Valley just because we're competing with so many others oh yeah, and what you're competing with is just crazy I mean you guys have had insane, like on the on par with the Airbnb ease and the ubers but but there's a lot of yeah, that's there's a lot of yeah there's so that was one I would say the other struggle, we really had in the early days was recruiting, talent to a place. Where basically, December, through March or April, it is really, cold ah. Good. I swear on this yes you can it's frozen, it's. Really cold and we ski and you, know if ski house we really embrace, which what's at buddy baby and it's like it's it's not ice if you can't see fish and it's exactly yeah so it's it's it's a, difficult place to recruit, from and it was tough to bring people there and that's gotten easier over time but also recruit and so what we did was we said okay well if we can't recruit people that are highly experienced, what, if we just bet on the potential what, if we brought on people who were super high potential, and just been. In a, disproportion. Amount of time coaching them and train, them and mentoring them and in. The end those are people that still run Shopify today and so we tried to figure out what we had going for us which was we had loyalty we, had really smart people that were full of potential, we'd necessarily have the big rock star names, we didn't have the big VC's in town but, we leveraged what we did have and I think ultimately, it. Led to a much more a. Better company long term, specific. Pain points raising.
Money Was. Hard at first but what, allowed you to break, through was it that you you you. Achieved success, you had numbers that were so. Tantalizing. That, they couldn't ignore you anymore were you so good they couldn't ignore you I mean it's having good numbers you get metrics certainly helpful or certainly helpful I would actually say one of the biggest things we did to. Bring it back is was build a business yeah, people did not know what, Shopify, did who, we were we, just we were not a brand people that you Shopify, knew who we were but it was really difficult because we're not a consumer brand were kind of a brand behind, the brand yeah so many of. The stores all, of a shop on our today are powered by Shopify, without even knowing it but we just it. Was tough for us to tell that story was tough for us to get mints people to give us a shot because. We weren't just fighting with getting customers, first week to convince someone to, try entrepreneurship. Which, in itself is really difficult yeah and then if you're gonna try to try with us and so, I think. The. Build a business competition was one of the ways where we. Sort. Of crossed the chasm from early adopter to the mainstream yeah and I linked hurt and it wasn't gimmicky. Yet this I think it's gimmicky it didn't really cost that much money in the short run, but. Just, getting people to know who we were was, really really challenging, I was probably the third, thing was, we. Were told that our market was not big enough, which. In hindsight is absolutely ridiculous because I might retail, it's. Right but, at the time when, investors, were looking at our company looking at the opportunity, a lot of them felt that it was. Ecommerce. You. Know, SAS. Business, model, physical, products, sort. Of if you if you kind of just look at the Venn diagram it just was too small for some and so, when. Enough people tell you that your market is too small you begin to believe it yourself and I think Toby's. Credit actually he just had the vision that no like in, the future, there's. Gonna be way more entrepreneurs, and we're more aspiring entrepreneurs, and we just have to stay stay, focused, but. We, made it out of those dark days and yeah let's talk a little bit more about that like. The. Jeff Bezos quote, as an entrepreneur you need to be willing to be deeply. Misunderstood, for a very long time. So. How. Does you, know in this case you mentioned Toby, you just said no it's it's, good enough and talk to me about when because again, if you listening, or watching right, now so, many people are saying well yeah you, know my parents told me I couldn't do it my art teacher you know enduring, crit tore me to pieces I've, been I had an online Shopify.
Store And I haven't sold anything and, it's been up there for a year like there's a lot of it's, very easy to get discouraged and part of what this shows about is helping people understand, people at home that. Now you have a fifteen billion dollar business but there are plenty of times where people told you you sucked you were gonna make it wasn't good enough wasn't, fast enough big enough all those things so first and foremost like if, you love what you're doing and. We. We. Absolutely did level we were doing it makes a little bit easier right like our hobby, is entrepreneurship. Our business, helps entrepreneurs. It. Was it was easy to stay the course because we actually really enjoyed we're doing but, to sort, of to get a little more specific. Part. Of the the issue with, entrepreneurship. Is that it's fairly, lonely. Particularly. If your, family doesn't believe in you your, friends don't believe in you investors. Not giving you money and so. We. Were really lucky that Bo, Toby and I had had this great peer group in fact this is because it sounds super cheesy but we created our own peer group we called ourselves the fresh founders, it's, stupid name but, but. It was a group that love it who every Friday night or so we would go to a coffee shop in Ottawa and, we. Would just, commiserate. With each other and. Actually in hindsight that, little. Peer, group that we cultivated, for for each other. Was. A huge part of the reason why we were able to persevere, through all those dark times and so I mean, no matter what city you're in there. Is a way for you to cultivate a bit of a community, and I think that's really really important, the, problem is if you don't seek. It out or search for it it's very difficult to find yeah, and so or MIT gave got a Mickey are you gonna make it yourself right and and also there, is a con it's some people don't even want to call themselves an, artist or called themselves an entrepreneur, and when you don't self-identify by. It makes it even more difficult to find like-minded people yeah so I would say that that was really, helpful for us in the early days of figuring out okay, like we, need other people that are going through the same thing because otherwise it's, just going to be. We. Needed, more optimism, third party optimism, in our lives now. One thing that was also helpful was we, used to go to the valley. Probably. Once a quarter maybe even more often to, do we would call recharging. Our batteries recharging. Our big vision batteries, and I would say that you know if I was in fashion I'd, probably go to Milan or New York City every couple of months to sort of get inspired if I was creating, a car company I'd probably go to Detroit. Or wherever to sort of get inspired la la now exactly I, do, believe, that it is really helpful to go and take. Some get, out of your your, own way for a little time and even if it's sitting on a buddy's couch in some random City to, go and find people that number, one you want to emulate number one you want to you.
Want To be like and and. That was also really really be close to the scene whenever this friend is you don't have to be in it but you have to tap into and you can bring that back to wherever you are. I mean that's right built my. Own, photography business ain't creative live out of Seattle which is neat that's now. It's a hotbed for entrepreneurship. But it wasn't yeah you know yeah 10 15 20 years of really doctors yeah yeah exactly a way, into Seattle, before it was cool no III think that that's a really really salient. Point that it's, true you don't have to live where everywhere, all of the scene is but. Connecting. With it understanding. What's happening being. A part of the culture in the community, you know I have a philosophy that I call the other 50% that people think that, 50%. Of your. So, that it's making this stuff is a hundred percent of how. You are successful, night no no it's it's making it and sharing, it and, I'm. Actually saying you know I'm actually the making it and sharing it that's actually, only half of the and the. Other 50%, is. Building. Community building. Mentors building. Community. Around the things that you love and these, are your first customers, easy your beta testers, this is your fresh, founders, this is like if you're not constantly. Actively. Building community like. You said it not only is it lonely but, and, that's very very hard for entrepreneurs, to sort of break through and and I've found that as well but. It's, like there's literally. It's your, there's, no peer group there's no people to give you feedback because, your mom. Are. You know god bless you mom but, mom does not really know your. Mom can be your mentor right your mom can't be your mentors right so, that's the tweet from this this episode right but you. Mentioned, about making it and, sharing it one, of the posters we have up in Shopify, that isn't just a sign know up something we believe is do. Things and tell people I, think, a lot of entrepreneurs spend. Their time doing things but actually don't tell anyone about it he has the fear of judgment, or failure I, think. In 2018. One of the best parts of being a creator an entrepreneur in 2018, is I, think the. Cost of failure is right, now as close to zero as possible it. Won't be 0 ever because, there's, an opportunity cost there for your time sure but, when. You think about right when I think of the greatest stores on Shopify for example almost, all of them tried. Three. Or four different stores before, landing on the one that actually worked really really well and that one that worked well was, way better than the other stores as well that. Opportunity, to sort of to try a bunch of things that wasn't available to our parents or grandparents, they have to mortgage their entire lives in order to start a business that may have failed yeah I think that that is that is really really important the other piece of it is that I, agree. Sort, of creating, I used. To send that more emails than I care, to remember to people just asking for advice I mean that's originally, how all. These mentors, were build a business from Richard Branson to Mark Cuban Chase, Jarvis like the, reason that we got these people is he I just actually, cold. Emailed most of you and I just and I called you and I said and I got one of you in and so I I asked, one of you to actually introduce me to another one of you and and I kind of just, outworked. Everyone else to make to develop this thing and and. Then once one. Of you agreed I made sure that your experience was just press. Right yeah every aspect of it needs to be fantastic because you guys were then my tool, to get other people. To come and do it and and. So I think I. Think. It's actually never been more exciting. Or interesting of time to, be an artist or creator or, an entrepreneur than it is right now I think a lot of the reason is there, is less. There's. Less baggage around it there's less cost.
To It there's. More competition because, a lot of people are trying it now but I think there's something really special right now in in sort of the, way things are happening around entrepreneurs. Who, are starting in their basement, and building. Companies that are beating. The crap, out of hegemonic, Fortune 500's yeah which frankly I love, I love it, I love it too and I think that's part of well, you just said something I want to touch on for saying so you listed a bunch of like. Attributes. And it's. True it is the, best, time, because. Of, the, tools because, of. I. Guess. Availability, of resources it's. More, accepted, it's culturally we don't have the same stigma that our rare parents our grandparents, had to go through the mornings of the house to get that but. The. The ability, to test, and learn and poke, the, audience. And say if they like it or not it's, it's, instant. Mhm it's like you put something out and you know in, you. Know 15, minutes if your photographer, if people, liked your photograph, and that, cuts, both ways but, cuz I think use a little bit of a short term potentially. A short term. Win. But a long, term loss. How. Do you keep. People focused on the things that they, are supposed to be on this planet to, do and because, it is so, easy to test to, not just run around willy-nilly because I think there's I believe deeply. In, stamina. Like most successes, come right. After it is absolutely, as dark as they can get that's when something, changes so. How. Do you in an area where you can build a store and start, a business literally, tomorrow, Shopify, how, do you what, would advice would you give for people not to chase their tail and just do whatever they feel like so um I've. Been thinking about this this idea, of life's work for a long time that. If. Humans, are gonna live longer than ever what. Is gonna change and I think one of the main things that's going to change is that for. Our for. Older generations, from my parents and my grandparents, and great-grandparents. This, idea this comes of life's work, which is not accessible to them, you. Know my grandfather would say it's very nice that your, passion, about what you're doing, but I had to put food on the table roof over my head yeah and my dad kind of had to put a better roof over. My head and a little bit better from the table yeah but I think. College, that's right exactly so so, for me though it's, it's. A luxury, that I get to think about this idea of can, I do my life's work throughout my entire life yeah I also. Think that there, are so many people who have these hobbies, where. They go home from their nine-to-five job that they absolutely hates in a tinkerer in their workshop, or in their basement, or they make little you know this cool bracelets, at their mom's kitchen table, and I.
Would. Really encourage everyone, that has a hobby to, explore the Hobby and sort of double click on it just a little bit I know I mean go quit your job full time because Fran we have responsibilities, and and. Everyone has different things, that have to sort of worry about and frankly, they have to afford but, there is a period. A particular, time when we all get this instinct, which is like all right I think I'm ready I think I'm ready to quit my day job and do the thing I actually love doing and I think. That. Is a really critical juncture, and I think for nothing. It's for everyone but for some people I think that's when they actually decide you know what this nine-to-five, thing got me here but it's now time for me to actually do my life's work one, I think they're to be happier longer-term but two I think that I think. You can do I think you could have a much bigger impact not, just financially, but also, when. I was I was, a lawyer for all of ten months okay. Hey I didn't know this I went, to loss it's very have been friends for longer than five years I'm gonna call it ten I it's, not often you know some for ten years you don't know that there's so lawyer I was a lawyer for all of ten months and. Every. Sunday, night I would get this pit in my stomach because. Monday morning was coming and I hated going to work I hated being a lawyer I want to be an entrepreneur and I, told my girl from the time I was not my wife I said whatever. I do next, I want, my Sunday, night to feel like my Friday night and, if that happens I'm good, no matter like that is all I actually want, to do and. Ten. Years of this that was ten years ago. My, Sunday night feels like my Friday night my Monday morning feels like my Saturday morning, and that. I think is something really special I don't think that's unique to me I think that that's. What happens when you find your life's work and again. Not everyone can just quit their job and go pursue, whatever, that passion, is but, there is a point where you have to make that choice and I think if you, if you risk it and you mitigate, the risk so you may not get there you're not mortgaging, your house and putting your family and estate apparel but you're you're calculating that risk, for. Most of us that is the right time to jump and if you do you get to do really. Cool, forever. And forever and, and, make money and make people happy and and contribute, to the world and. I don't really better than that and so, that. Is something that, I feel very fortunate I can do and as much as possible I'm trying to help, other people find that same thing all right let's, think about the, there's. A cross-section, of people that. Don't. Have the luxuries, that we just talked about I am. Constantly. Trying to remind myself that, I, was born white I was born male was born in United States of America, in. What. Year it whatever your long view. But. And all, of those things gave me an arc a catapult. And, you, were born in third base is born on third base oza and still. Middle lower middle class I mean I had upside down Nikes and used with four stripes yeah I didn't, know I it was, a hunter's addition I don't know I had Nikes, with two eyes until. I was like fourth. Grade I was like wait, a minute, my. Nikes have up by now anyway but. There, is an entire cross-section of, the, world that. Is does, not have the luxuries, that we, are afforded, yet, there. Is an. Emerging. Opportunity. With, put internet, plus I'll, just let's, talk about Shopify. In particular, what, are you seeing, where. Our markets, growing, quickly. And. What, do you feel like and. What's the what what is something that we can do to minimize. That gap, for. That cross-section of the world so I spent. Some time in the last couple years we, have a small office in Bangalore in India and.
I Got a chance to go down they're probably 5 or 6 years ago for the first time and I've been going back home was an, annual basis and, what's amazing is. 95. Percent I believe 90%. Of people, indeed people living in India. Self-described. Themselves. As small, business owners then. We'll come to entrepreneurs, with small business owners and so, you would think that inherently. Entrepreneurship. Would be something baked into the culture yeah and it is but in a, very different way and what's interesting is that, when. We go to places like India or we go to places that are. More sort of in developing side of the world what. We see is way. More creativity, because. Capital. Is non-existent yeah so they don't have any money to spend on Adwords, or Instagram, ads or Facebook ads but, what they do have is they're. Willing to just outwork everybody else, and I, actually think it's that work ethic that has made India. And actually some of these other developing countries just incredible. From an economy perspective we've never seen growth like this um, well we're trying to do now is we're trying to make it even easier for them so for example in India there's a credit, card penetration, it's just not as high as it is North America so, in order for us to be successful there we have to figure out of. Payment times whether it's using something like ATM, or its cash and delivery but, there's sort of these nuances that we have to work there but, there is one common denominator that everyone, in all, these countries. Wants. To improve their life they, want to be they. Want to go work they want they want to be in a better position than, the, previous generation, and actually, I think that gives them a ton of advantage, over many, of us that were born on third base because. I mean, I've been supporting myself I was a kid and so. But. I still was, born in North America, as a white male um. But. Frankly. I didn't, necessarily have, the same I don't I didn't need to have the same work ethic as a lot of them had to have and I think actually that gives them a huge advantage and then it's the reason why we're seeing entrepreneurship. Exploding. Places like China and India and South America, ya know, will be interesting is where. Does North. America, who frankly, is we're, all on third base where, do we sit the next 10 or 20 years from now yeah we, use you know in most people North America working 9:00 to 5:00 five. Days a week, in. China they use an expression called, 6 9. A.m. to 9 p.m. six days a week. They. Are willing to help work other. Countries, other other, people other, cultures and so. My. When I'm meeting with entrepreneurs, there I'm actually far more inspire, in many cases than I am when I meet entrepreneurs elsewhere, because they. Simply have no choice and they're just gonna work everyone that.
It's The ones variable. That you know you can, choose. Right, is how hard you work that's exactly right and you don't depend on your, relationships, or some. Sort of safety net you have no choice yeah and I think that gives them a huge advantage as entrepreneur, or even a creator, of sorts now, I think if. The. Best entrepreneurs I know no, matter where they live they combine they take the resources that they have available to them and they combine that with just, this. Disability. To outwork the rest I was never the smartest person any of my classes and any of the businesses, I just. Tried to work harder, than other people and, this. Idea of working smart versus working part that wasn't even I didn't I wasn't aware of that depth I was just I was just working hard and, now I'm able to sort of figure out how is my time best spent but, I do believe that we, are living in. A time where you, can start a little T company out, of you. Know deli and it. May be the biggest T company on the planet in a couple of years and that was not possible even five or ten years ago, this. Bridge from, the. Opportunities. Or lack thereof in the emerging, markets, and talk, about trends for a second so, retail. Is obviously experiencing. Massive, disruption. You. Know Nikes. Now they, don't have this distribution model now Nike is selling their own stuff, and they're they're trying to figure it out and you, look at Apple, with today an Apple completely, transforming, what it feels like to walk and it's torn was trying to sell you something they're getting trending you to sit down and learn like. These are completely. Transformational. Seismic. Shifts in in retail world we're here in New York right. Now but, if you can hear in your background noise but just, I would, just again coming in from the airport it's like god, there's so, much retail is just blocks and blocks in these everyone. Has huge, flagship, stores here. You have to be, super. Tuned, in to, retail trends yeah, because, you're, in the business of. Transforming. It so. Would give, us a little preview on what's happening, and you talked about physical and digital I'm sure you can cut it on a couple different axes, but just talk, to me about what. We're where is it going I think, there's, a bit of a meme going around that like retail is struggling retail, is dead and I call. All that I think actually, this. Is one of the most exciting times of retail since. John. Wanamaker created, Wanamaker's, department store in Philly in 1976. Sorry 1876, that, was sort of the first time where you sort of had a modern retail shop bunch of brands and under one roof that, was actually the first store in America Wanamaker's, that had electricity and had a telephone Wow, and that. Was at the time and, that was super exciting, but I think over the last 130. Years or so you've, seen a lot of the same thing just kind of modernized you're seeing bigger malls more, lights movie. Theaters and all its like but, it's been a lot of the same thing and actually think for the first time again in a very long time now, I'm. Really excited a retail again I think there's some really cool things happening, so one is. This. Idea that a maker can create something and can, actually sell. It or, give it directly to the person that's consuming, it the end consumer that. Is amazing yeah this idea of direct to consumer, I don't believe as a trend, I think that, is the way retail. Always should have been and the reason it wasn't like that was because distribution. Was too difficult yeah she, lived in a like. A shack. And right Pennsylvanian. Exactly need you know choice right there's, not enough people who live near you to sell you stuff right and so your only choice was to go to give it to some large, company to fly to bed Ville Arkansas, and convince, a retail buyer at Walmart to please put it on on their shelves take, a big cut at the margin and probably. Not know how to sell it properly and the, fact today that all of us had create things or curate things can, actually go direct to consumer I think is amazing so one consumer.
Usually, Pays less money to, the. Maker makes more money and three the experience, is so much better yeah when I buy a boosted, board which is the motorized skateboard that I that I that I ride most days in in the summer time and I buy from Busan board comm I get, a little chap, that pops up in the right-hand corner I can ask any questions, I want the, range the weights kind, of take it on airplanes and get these amazing, information, right away yeah, but, if I went to go buy it at a Best Buy for example, some, sales guy would have no idea what I'm you know the answer to these questions I think, as a consumer direct. Consumers, is so much better I also. Think this idea that, when. I was uh when. I was younger I go to concerts, for example if I wanted to support the, artists that I was seeing. Let's. Say was a musician. I'd, go to the merch table merch stand and I'd buy some crappy, guild, and t-shirt with the tour dates on the back whereas. Now when. I go to a concert, I go to a drake show i see, the most amazing winter, coat co-branded. With Drake's brand and Canada Goose and and so that's. Telling me that I think. Anyone. That has I think a lot of these celebrities, are actually creating really great brands that are not commotion, around but, truly are a way for their. Fans and the people that care about them to, to, engage with them in a more deeper level I think a lot about like you know. Kylie. Right Kylie Kylie Jenner who's created this billion-dollar brand, she owns a hard percent of it on her own and she's, selling this amazing you know lipstick on on Shopify I think, when, I compare her to like Michael Jordan for example and who I think created this amazing brand as well with Jordan brand but. He doesn't actually go in Nike Owens his brand yeah right and I think of Michael Jordan starting today what, you would see is you'd see him owning his brand you'd. See Nike as a supply, partner that's what you have with Kanye for example with adidas yeah and so I think one. Of the other trends that I think is really exciting is seeing more, of these people, celebrities. Artists. Rappers. Professional. Athletes figure. Out what, their brand is and then create really great products, around it yeah not promotional. Products, but for truly, nice strategies. Not tchotchkes, but actually great stuff that's, the second thing I'm saying then probably the third and most important, retail, trend that I'm seeing is I think, the future of retail is just, gonna be wherever. Shoppers. Want to buy and if. You want to sell to you and I bet. I have a great online store experience maybe also have a really good Oh store experience yeah if you want to sell to my sister, you better be signed something like snapchat, or Instagram her face because that's where she wants to buy and my, mom and dad still love walking into a brick-and-mortar store, yeah I don't, believe those are different businesses. I think that's all part of retail and I think the retailers, and the merchants and the makers, in the future that are going to be really successful are. Gonna have a really deep understanding of. What, their. Customers want and how they want to purchase and so, I. That's. That's pretty amazing I also think the fact that you have these. These. Niche brands many. Of them are on Shopify who, are building things that are just amazing and then selling. Them to the consumer, and going. Back to that example. I said earlier and actually. Taking a big chunk out of these big. Emotionless. Companies, and actually, beating them at their own game that's, super, inspiring I love that so much yeah, so, let's. Talk about again. It's a little bit about trend but, it's. You. You all see the, money that flows. To your pipelines, and what sectors, it comes from and so a little. Bit of backstory in context, for the folks at home so. I had. An amazing time as a build a business, mentor, we. Already knew it was myself Kuban, Faris. Little, John Gary, Vee Tina. Roth Eisenberg. Selita. Ebanks. Mr., Solomon I forget it's basically it was basically chasing a bunch of us Damon, Dave, John yeah Damon yeah and. We. Each mentored, a different sector, so. And. We get to you know give your money away to them when they won and. Then agree, to be their mentor, for a year or the year six monsters in like that was really cool and. I. Know. Relative. To some of the other businesses my photography. And imaging, the. People did not they made a ton of money but, it wasn't like, what some other genre. Of. Maker made, so, just. Talk to us a little bit about like. Who's making a lot who's where are there great margins, and again I don't advocate that you build your business on these principles unless, you are an MBA, who's looking to jump on board and operate a company if you're a creator and a founder I think you should do something that you love, first and foremost and then hopefully, there's some you can create some good unit economics but.
I'm Just fascinated to, know a little, bit about these, trends, and I don't want to read your public, filings someone's right to tell me about it so a couple things first of all I think I. Think. The ones that sort, of stand out for me or the ones that as, you said had a deep passion, of what they were doing there they weren't selling widgets yeah they were selling something that they themselves really, loved I would also say a, lot. Of them before they actually went all-in. They. Kind of tipped out into the water a little bit so you may have someone that has like a soccer. Blog, and. It's a cool blog and people reading it and like you know maybe I can solve soccer, balls or soccer products they. Didn't necessarily go out and buy a, thousand. Soccer balls and store. Inventory they, may have started with you know a drop shipping business let, me see whether or not like again you're not gonna make that much money interruption business because the margins are lower but the experiment, to figure out whether or not that a product market fit and once they did then, they doubled and said all right time to buy inventory I would, also say the, ones that succeeded. And have continued, to succeed over a very long period of time, there. Was a real story behind what they were doing. And. This idea of storytelling as cliche. As Amit, said it really does work, really well because one. You're, able to. Particularly. The early purchasers. Of your product end up becoming your ambassadors. Almost, your marketing team and, I, think if you don't necessarily have a compelling story and you don't really, you. Don't have this narrative of why you've done it and how you've done it I don't actually know works nearly as well probably. The last thing that I think has been a, common. Thread across all the winners of build a business but frankly most, of the Shopify. Success, stories over time is, that. They. Really did fill a gap in the market they. Whether, it was Debbie sterling and credit Goldie Blox because, felt there were no toys to, inspire little girls to become engineers and she was one of very, few female, engineers or in her class or. It's Tina, who before speaking my mentor pretty tat Lea because she, realized that her daughter Ella was coming home with a bunch of crappy, temporary. Tattoos on her arm and she's like why can't there be really, nice mom, I could make you better that's right or even DODOcase you said like why can't I make a beautiful-looking iPad, case it almost looks like a an artisanal. Book right, and, I think that those, are some of the common beyond, that though we have merchants, that, that. Sell. Crazy. Things, like boosted, boards which has, a lot of R&D behind it we also merchant, it sell one, single t-shirt and that's all they do. So, I don't wouldn't necessarily there's one particular, type I think actually today, yes it's it's in, December, 2018, right now a lot, of them rather than spending money on. Digital. Ads of the front paid ads a lot of them are actually first, finding. A community online whether it's on reddit or Instagram, or some, random form, they. Are evangelizing.
An Existing community in advance of actually going to market with it and so that when they hit that launch button they already have people that are kind of interested, in seeing where they go and. That's. Again where capital. Is no longer the most important, ingredient. For success it's, really creativity, and resourcefulness and. Identity, in community and getting these people engaged and. It's. I mean it's not easy to do that but it's not impossible and, it doesn't matter who. You're, then raising we lose you know raising money and but it doesn't matter where your base if you're based in in Seattle. You basin in Bangalore you, can create. And, work with a community and add value to that community we, were talking earlier just. About one of my favorite stores in shop which is fashion Nova it's incredible story out of out of Los Angeles great. Entrepreneur, named Richard but you, know Richard has been sending. Free. Clothing to, up-and-coming. Musicians. For, as long as fashion Nova's has existed, knowing. That at some point one of them may actually become the next big thing and in this case it was cardi B yeah, and, while. Everyone else now is trying to get cardi being engaged in their brand because she this you know huge celebrity, this she's, brand, she's. Loyal to fashion know that because fashion Oba believes in her before anyone else did and yes, it cost him a little bit of money because he sent them free stuff hers her free stuff but that was, that, that's really what it takes I think. That is he didn't have a lot of money you know the many connections but, he kind of he. Was willing to play some bets I had. This is just said if i satisfy is, a weird place, and i think people's, minds out there I know it's known that God what's, like, the weirdest, thing that people like we, got any weird stories, that people like making a ton. And, you probably can't disclose how much they may be yes, yeah. But is there anybody who's made a ton of money something someone something, totally, bizarre, every now and then I'll. Catch, like a trend, for example, like I'll see a fidget spinner you know shot and stuffs we see some of those weird. Stores, I mean the introvert is only internet, every niche has it has like has an actual mass, market I think that's sort of the beauty of digital, commerce is that it's. Said that again every, niche has a mass market so. You may think it's a small niche you may think it's something that only you and your quirky. Friends care about but the the crazy part is online. You can actually, curate. That and bring these people together and you can take a bunch of you, know people that care about the small nation actually have a real market for it that I think is really great I, can't, think of any ones that that come to mind although frankly I've been wearing it. Something maybe not a weird one but I've been wearing the chubby you know Chubby's the short company know I wore in those shorts like all throughout the summer and they're, kind of short shorts, kind of thing I never thought thought I wear shorts, that kind of go up to here but they're amazing, and.
Actually. It was my parents anniversary a, couple two weeks ago and my dad snores, horribly, and I said I want to get them something to help with my dad's story because I think it all helped my my parents marriage and, I got them it's a shop boys were called Nora and O are a it's. This thing that goes in my dad's pillow and every time he snores it kind of a justice pillow just a little bit and I, don't think my father's sleeping much but he's not storing anything so. My, mom's never had my mom super happy but. It's a, that's that's the cool part of my. Perspective. Watching these hundreds. And hundreds of thousands of stories on Shopify is that I, know. A lot of their origin stories and all of them had doubt all of them had an insecure and all of them weren't sure if they were gonna make it, and it's, amazing me to watch all of them sell what's now I think more than 60 billion dollars, worth. Of, worth. Of products, on Shopify, and it's not these, big store it's the long tail it's like it's, all these hundreds, of thousands of stores that well that's the punchline here I mean the fact that you started the business is cool I, respect. The hell out of you for building this insane business, but to me like. What, word these are messages for, you for. The people who are listening and watching right now like you have to if you've ever wondered if this stuff is actually happening, like. You you are definitely. Gonna make no money if you don't start a store yeah. Or you're definitely if you don't go into business if you don't print business cards if you don't maybe less relevant now but if you don't start saying who. You are what you believe in, and put, it out there for people to, participate. In to judge, to, collaborate. With to, build community, around certainly. Nothing's gonna happen so, you have that like, these, are stories, of. Entrep