The Dyslexic who created $184 Bn Business

#StartupResources: Tips To Stay Organized And Productive!
A dyslexic, ADHD, burnt out programmer moves across the world for love. After losing his job, he bootstraps a biz to $5M ARR. The crazy part? Today the company is worth over $184 BILLION. The wild story of the best son-in-law ever 👇🏽👇🏽👇🏽
1/ Bruce McKean was happy to hear that his daughter Fiona was moving back to Canada. She had been living with her boyfriend in Germany for almost a year. They had met snowboarding at Whistler in 2002. He was concerned with her choice when she asked if they could move in…
2/ Tobi (her boyfriend) thought he had a job lined up in Canada but his offer was revoked when they realized he had no visa. After checking with a lawyer, he discovered that he couldn’t work in Canada. But he could start a company…
3/ He settled on one of his favorite hobbies: snowboards. Scott Lake, a friend of the McKean’s, was his partner and CEO. Each put in $20K. Bruce helped with a few bills. They wanted to ship v1 within weeks, but it was a disaster…
5/ It took almost 3 months of 16 hour days to build the Snowdevil store exactly how they wanted it. They only sold ~40 boards that season, but the Rails community was in love with the software. Jan 2005, they shut down the store to commercialize the platform instead…
8/ Shopify launched in 2006 without much fanfare. It was free, but they took 2-3% of the total transaction volume. Used by a few Rails developers and some of Daniel’s designer friends, they reached $8,000 MRR by 2007. It wasn’t enough. The company was almost bankrupt.
10/ Everything changed for Shopify in 2007. Scott knew that a technical product needed a dev CEO, and planned to step down from the role, encouraging Tobi to take it. Tobi refused, wanting to remain CTO.
11/ Earlier that year they had changed pricing from a % of total transactions to offer a flat monthly fee. That encouraged larger stores to start trying out the platform, and growth began to explode…
11/ 2008 saw them grow over 800% to 60K MRR. John pushed Tobi to step up and become CEO saying, “Tobi, you will never find anyone who will care about Shopify as much as you do. And so you should just give this a go.” April 2008, the “awkward developer” took the top spot.
13/ With competitors like BigCommerce and Magento popping up, they went to raise their first VC round in 2010 with just over $5MM ARR. At first, nobody wanted to invest if they wouldn’t move to the Bay. Their cloud first approach, tech team, and app ecosystem landed them $7MM.
17/ Why I love this story, it’s a reminder that: 1) The path you start is rarely the one you end on 2) Grow with, not just because of, your customers 3) Simplicity and ease of use are #1 4) You can learn to be a CEO And that anyone anywhere can do it…
18/ If you enjoyed this thread, follow me @JSPujji I tweet founding stories like this every week.
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