Ottawa SaaS eCommerce company Shopify has launched its second annual Build-A-Business Contest. The company is offering over $500,000 in winnings, including a $100,000 first prize, to inspire entrepreneurs to start an online business. To provide entrepreneurs with additional support, Shopify has teamed up with industry titans Seth Godin, Gary Vaynerchuk and Tim Ferriss to provide ongoing advice, education and encouragement to contestants. The concept is simple: think of something to sell, create an online store and then build your business.
The contest runs from May 1, 2011, to December 31, 2011, but participants can sign up any time as long as they’re selling for at least two months. The store with the highest grossing two months (non-consecutive) wins the grand prize, with six $20,000 prizes awarded to winners from designated categories: Apparel and Jewelry, Food and Health, Sports and Hobbies, Art and Photography, Home and Office and Other. Because of Shopify’s easy-to-use platform, previous technical or eCommerce experience is not needed.
“The prize money is significant, but don’t forget the spirit of the contest: to give a kick in the pants to all those people who have wanted to start businesses but haven’t,” said Tobi Lütke, co-founder and CEO of Shopify. “The real prize is having a business of your own at the end of the contest.”
Shopify, a company that is deeply rooted in entrepreneurial spirit, is committed to helping participants along the way by offering world-class marketing and sales tips through a special Build-A-Business website, which will offer knowledge and insight from its partners and sponsors, including Google, MailChimp and PayPal. Shopify has also built out significant prizes for the winners to help their businesses succeed long after the contest:
- Grand Prize: $100,000 cash; VIP trip to New York for lunch with Seth Godin (he’s cooking); one-hour power session with Gary Vaynerchuk; trip to Google Headquarters to chat with Google experts; and a dinner with Tim Ferriss.
- 6 Industry Prizes: $20,000 cash each; VIP trip to New York for lunch with Seth Godin (he’s cooking); $7,500 Google AdWords credit.
- Canadian Prize: $5,000 at the Apple Store; VIP trip to New York for lunch with Seth Godin (he’s cooking); $15,000 Google AdWords credit.
The winner of last year’s contest – which created nearly 1,400 businesses and generated over $3.5 million in combined revenue – was DODOcase, a San Francisco company that makes iPad cases using traditional book-binding techniques. The founders, Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton, are now running a company with projected annual earnings of $4-5 million.