Tuesday Jul 20 '10
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I've been a fan of Shopify for a while now - not just because they're fellow Canadians (based in Ottawa), but mainly due to their excellent hosted-ecommerce service. We're proponents of building context-sensitive web spaces however, often budgets can't afford us building clients a full-blown custom shopping system - that's when I'm proud to recommend using Shopify - they make setting up shop easy and offer extensibility through APIs and the ability to custom-theme a hosted store (using their easy in-house template language called Liquid).

Teaming up with published entrepreneur Tim Ferriss (he wrote a popular book called the 4 Hour Workweek), Shopify just announced winners to an amazing contest they cooked up - the idea was simple; a $100,000 top prize would be awarded to whomever did the two highest consecutive months of sales through a new Shopify store, with their help, in a 3 - 6 month period. Now, its tough to tell how effective the goal of winning prizes was to the thousands of Shopify customers who entered the contest but its interesting to look at the winner of the Grand Prize; a San Francisco-based iPad accessory maker called Dodocase.

As the New York Times reported yesterday, Dodocase was founded by two chaps (one of which is a Y-combinator alumnus) who saw a need for related products to sell alongside Apple's iPad. Patrick Buckley began designing a classic case for the iPad which, in my opinion, has been styled to mimic the internationally renowned Moleskin notebook. Taking his prototype to local book-binders, the firm was launched and began taking orders through their Shopify-powered e-store, receiving 10,000 orders for their cases in just a few months after their launch.

Now, $100,000 of gifted investment can help any start-up but its interesting to see that at $60ish per unit, Dodocase has been highly profitable straight out of the gate. Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton may have created their product without the incentive of winning this competition but I think its safe to assume that once they saw their product sales coming in, their goal may not have just been to win the Grand Prize. Sometimes such a carrot can take an entrepreneur's mind off of profit goals beyond a short term period; which has apparently aided the success of 500 such Shopify stores launched during the competition - who all realized some financial sustainability by its end.

I've above-attached an info-graphic with some interesting numbers Shopify derived from the competition and will keep an eye out for comparisons between regular Shopify store sales stats.

(Written by Qasim - Principal/Founder @ Design Guru)