Shopify Mafia members share business success stories

  • Shopify encourages entrepreneurship among its employees.
  • Many employees have left the company to become self-employed.
  • We spoke to more than 30 of them. Read their stories here.

A self-proclaimed “entrepreneurial company,” Shopify develops and provides tools for approximately 2 million merchants to power their online stores. The company regularly highlights trader success stories on its company blog and on phone calls.

But Shopify’s message of entrepreneurship extends to its own employees as well. Company leaders encourage employees to start their own businesses in addition to their day-to-day work by holding internal business competitions and allowing employees to spend up to $1,000 in business-related expenses per year.

Even Shopify President Harley Finkelstein has a side hustle: he runs the Shopify-powered DTC tea brand, Firebelly Tea, along with David Segal, the founder of DavidsTea. Finkelstein previously told Insiders that a part-time job helps him better understand Shopify’s product and develop empathy for the platform’s merchant base.

“I talk a lot about the ups and downs of being an entrepreneur in my role at Shopify,” he said. “Firebelly allows me to experience that firsthand.”

Other business leaders also have their own Shopify stores, such as Atlee Clark, who is Shop’s operations manager and also co-founded children’s and women’s clothing brand Pika Layers.

“We’ve long said that Shopify is a company for entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs,” a Shopify spokesperson previously told Insider. “We encourage entrepreneurship internally and encourage our employees to pursue their passions and side projects.”

Insider has profiled dozens of Shopify employees who have become entrepreneurs. Read their stories below:

A ‘Shopify Mafia’ founder on how he built his brand while working full-time: ‘Shopify is the only company in the world where you can make millions of dollars on the side’

Greg Macdonald already had a Shopify store when he joined the e-commerce company in 2016 as a merchant success manager. But his bath products brand, Bathorium, grew dramatically in his five years with the company.

Eventually, the store had become so successful that Macdonald left the e-commerce giant and ran Bathorium full-time. He told Insiders about his experience running a “million-dollar side job” while still working at Shopify.

Shopify encourages its employees to open stores as a side hustle. This entrepreneur left to run his business full-time and now makes about $30,000 in monthly sales.

Daniel Patricio worked on Shopify’s product team when he opened Bull and Cleaver, a Shopify store selling South African beef jerky product Biltong, in 2015.

But the side hustle eventually got bigger than Patricio expected, and he quit his job at Shopify to work full-time on Bull and Cleaver. He shared the story behind his Biltong brand with Insider.

This Shopify Mafia offshoot has invested $2.3 million in female-led startups. 2 partners share what they want to invest in next.

In the spring of 2021, 10 Shopify employees – some current, some ex – founded Backbone Angels, an angel investment collective focused on funding startups founded by women, particularly women of color.

A year later, they had invested more than $2 million in new startups. In interviews with Insider, they outlined some of their investment priorities.

Meet 34 members of the “Shopify Mafia” who have embraced the e-commerce giant’s entrepreneurial spirit and started their own businesses

Many other Shopify employees have left the company to pursue full-time entrepreneurship. Insider interviewed more than 30 of them, including Michael Perry, who left Shopify to build parenting software startup Maple, and Erin Chan, who co-founded rental marketing platform Rhenti after years as a product manager at Shopify.

Several graduates developed software intended to help engineers simplify programming, such as Harry Brundage and Mohammad Hashemi, who co-founded Gadget, and Ken Rose, who co-founded OpsLevel.

Others doubled down on DTC and opened their own Shopify stores.

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