The Shopify Fund

by Joey deVilla on October 17, 2011

"The Shopify Fund: A cool million for cool apps": Stacks on hundred-dollar bills arranged into an "S" shape

Shopify Gets Funding (Again)!

If you haven’t heard the announcement yet, let me tell you: Shopify has secured a second round of funding – 15 million dollars’ worth.

"$15 million in funding (the budget for the film Slumdog Millionaire)": "Who wants to be a millionaire" scene from "Slumdog Millionaire"

We’ve been profitable for a while now, so landing this money wasn’t about survival; it’s about ambition. We’re aiming to be the number one ecommerce platform, so we’re using the money to fuel our growth: more staff, more stuff, and more services.

As we like to say, “When the train comes in, everybody rides!” And by everybody, I’m including developers who build on the Shopify platform.

Screenshot of the Shopify Fund page

That’s why I’m very pleased to announce the Shopify Fund!

The Idea Behind the Shopify Fund

"Supporting indie app developers": Photo of a software developer's home office

The idea behind the Shopify Fund is very simple: we want to support developers who build apps for the Shopify platform by giving them money so that they can work full-time for a few weeks on those apps without having to worry about paying their bills.

Dr. Evil, pointing his pinky finger at the corner of his mouthAnd I’ve got a million dollars to make it happen! Say it with me: One. Meeeellion. Dollars.

Many of us at Shopify, myself included, have worked at small or one-person development shops, so we know what it’s like to have to pick and choose projects in order to stay afloat. We hope that the Shopify Fund will make that choice easier and make it possible for you to build apps for our great ecommerce platform and fill your wallet at the same time.

The Shopify API and App Store

(This section’s for developers who aren’t familiar with Shopify. Feel free to jump ahead if this is old news to you.)

Bob Marley: "One love, four verbs"

Those of you new to Shopify might not be aware that it’s not just a hosted ecommerce system, but also a platform that offers a RESTful API. This API gives you the capability to programmatically perform many of the actions that a shopowner can perform from his or her control panel. With the API, you can automate tasks to make shopowners’ and customers’ lives easier, provide shopowners with different views and insights into their shops’ data, integrate Shopify with a world of online services and generally expand that capabilities of Shopify shops.

(If you’d like to know more about Shopify’s API, check out our API documentation.)

Screenshot of Shopify's App Store

Shopify also provides a place for developers to sell their Shopify apps: the Shopify App Store. It’s a one-stop shop that:

  • Makes it easy for shopowners to browse, purchase and install apps for their Shopify shops
  • Makes it easy for developers to reach a market of over 15,000 active shopowners and make money (there’s an 80/20 revenue share; you get 80% of the sale price of your app, Shopify gets 20%)

In 2010, almost half of our active shopowners had installed at least one app.

How the Shopify Fund Works

"Got an App Idea?": lightbulb

If you’re a developer with an idea for a Shopify app, we’d like to hear from you! Drop us a line at fund@shopify.com and we’ll evaluate your idea. If we think it’s worth funding, we’ll provide an advance in the neighbourhood of $5,000 to $10,000 (and hey, maybe more if we think it’s going to be big) on future sales in the App Store.

If this sounds like a literary advance, that’s because that’s the model we’re using – but a little bit nicer. Here’s a quick description of how it works:

  1. If we think your app idea’s a good one and we fund it, we’ll give you half the advance up front.
  2. Once you finish the app, you get the other half of the advance.
  3. Your app goes in the store. Until the app’s sales reach the amount of the advance we gave you, the revenue share is 50% for Shopify, 50% for you. That’s right, you’ll still be making some money!
  4. One the app’s sales reach the amount of the advance we gave you, the revenue share goes back to the standard 20% for Shopify, 80% for you.

Gecko playing with an Xbox 360 controller: "Mad Skills: I has them"

If you have programming skills but can’t think of any Shopify app ideas, check out the App Wishlist in our wiki. It’s full of ideas, and one of them might be right up your alley.

If you still can’t think of any Shopify app ideas but have killer programming skills and would like to work on a Shopify app, we’d still like to hear from you. We might be able to assign you to a project of our choosing.

Once Again…

Screenshot of the Shopify Fund page

…be sure to check out the new Shopify Fund page and if you’re interested, drop us a line at fund@shopify.com to find out more or to propose an app that you’d like to have us fund!

Keep an eye on this blog as well: we’re going to be talking about building apps on the Shopify platform for the next little while.

This article also appears in the Shopify Technology Blog.

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