Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Growing Ottawa Company Shopify Handles E-Store for Angry Birds, Foo Fighters: Ottawa Company Handles E-Store for Angry Birds

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Growing Ottawa Company Shopify Handles E-Store for Angry Birds, Foo Fighters: Ottawa Company Handles E-Store for Angry Birds

Article excerpt

TORONTO - When web shoppers buy a plush Angry Birds toy, a Foo Fighters or LMFAO T-shirt, or something from Encyclopedia Britannica, it helps fuel a small but growing Ottawa company that once sold snowboards before getting into the e-store business.

That company is Shopify, which this week was named by Fast Company magazine as one of the 10 most innovative retail businesses in the world.

Co-founder Tobias Lütke created Shopify after realizing back in 2005 just how difficult and expensive it was to launch a web business. After figuring it would cost at least $100,000 to get his snowboard store online, Lütke decided the company ought to design its own e-commerce software.

He quickly realized there was a much better business in helping other entrepreneurs sell their wares online and left snowboards behind.

"Today, almost six years later, we have over 20,000 active stores selling one or more products every month in more than 80 countries," said Harley Finkelstein, Shopify's chief platform officer.

"In 2010, our stores did $130 million in gross merchandise value, in 2011 it was $270 million, so it's a really, really quick growth rate."

The company pitches itself as a simple, low-cost tool to start and host a web store; if you can handle email you're technically savvy enough to create your own online store with Shopify, Finkelstein said. Pricing starts at $29 a month with a two per cent transaction fee, and maxes out at $179 monthly with no transaction fee.

The company believes there's a lot of growth to come, given that online sales still represent just a tiny fraction of overall retail revenues, Finkelstein said.

There's also major potential in helping smaller-scale entrepreneurs sell products to a potentially large audience online, he added.

"I think part of the reason we've been successful is we stuck to our value proposition, we've stuck to the fact that we want to make e-commerce very easy, and I think the other part of it is the pie itself is growing," Finkelstein said. …

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