Online store ecommerce platform developer Shopify has announced the winners of its third “Build-A-Business Competition.” During the 8-month competition period, over 10,000 entrepreneurs created new online businesses that sold over $55 million in products. Grand prizes are awarded to shops with the highest sales over a two-month period. Shopify partnered with Timothy Ferriss (The 4-Hour Workweek), Daymond John (Shark Tank, FUBU), Tina Roth Eisenberg (swissmiss) and Eric Ries (The Lean Startup), to offer each of the winners a $50,000 US investment in exchange for a 5% equity stake in their company.
Participants were placed in one of four categories based on the type of product they sold, and assigned a mentor with specific industry experience: Electronics and Gadgets, mentored by Timothy Ferriss, Fashion & Apparel, mentored by Daymond John, Design, Art & Home, mentored by Tina Roth Eisenberg, and “Everything Else,” mentored by Eric Ries. The competition ran from July 10, 2012 to February 28, 2013, with each of the mentors providing advice and guidance along the way.
“A lot of people have a great business idea, they just need a little push to make it a reality,” said Shopify Co-Founder and CEO Tobias Lütke. “This competition helps turn ideas into profitable businesses. Participants create an online store with Shopify and start selling within days. Along the way, we give them access to advice about marketing and sales from their mentor – someone who has already made it big and knows the ropes.”
The competition winners are:
GameKlip (Electronics & Gadgets): Ryan French is an Applied Computational Math Science student at the University of Washington. He created GameKlip, a precision molded clip that connects android phones to a Sony DualShock3 controller, allowing for mobile game play with a full-sized controller.
Fresh-Tops (Fashion & Apparel): Spawned by an orgy of glitter, ice cream and electro pop, Fresh-Tops is an exciting fashion brand created by Nella Chunky. Nella produces limited edition women’s clothing and accessories based on requests and suggestions made by fans on Facebook.
GoldieBlox (Design, Art & Home): Debbie Sterling is an Engineer at Stanford University. She went on Kickstarter and raised $285,881 to create a construction toy that encourages young girls to get into engineering, develop spatial skills and hone problem-solving abilities.
SkinnyMe Tea (Everything Else): Gretta van Riel created this successful brand of tea to help people detoxify and lose weight. The teas, made from natural ingredients, are said to increase metabolism, remove unwanted toxins from the body, and even improve digestion, complexion, and sleep.
Canadian Icons (Canadian): Aron Slipacoff partnered with some of Canada’s most historically significant brands to offer “Canadiana” to people all over the world. His shop sells well-known Canada Goose down parkas and handmade mukluks and moccasins by Manitobah Mukluks. The Canadian Icons website also serves as a resource for Canadian history.
In addition to the grand prizes, Shopify is awarding each of the winners a VIP trip to New York City to meet with their mentors, along with $20,000 toward digital advertising, and a special one-hour media strategy training session with editors at Fast Company Magazine.
This is Shopify’s third “Build-A-Business Competition.” In 2010, DODOcase, a handcrafted iPad, tablet and iPhone case company won the $100,000 grand prize. In 2011, Coffee Joulies, a company that manufactures polished stainless steel beans that regulates the temperature of coffee, won the $100,000 prize. Both companies have grown to become multi-million dollar businesses.