We're pleased to announce the first four projects to be funded by the Shopify Fund, our million-dollar fund to encourage developers to build apps on Shopify's ecommerce platform. We've put together a video to announce these projects; you can either watch it above or keep reading to find out who the "First Four" are.

Listed in order of project name, the first four Shopify Fund Projects are:

Booking Engine, by Conrad Decker

Shopify grew from a shop that sold snowboards online, so when we built it, we had selling physical, shippable goods in mind. This proposed app takes Shopify's great ecommerce engine and extends it to support rental- or appointment-based services -- things like bike rentals, hair appointments, hotel and bead-and-breakfast bookings, photo studios or any other service where you borrow something or book an appointment. Conrad has also proposed integrating Booking Engine with Twilio's voice and SMS service so that customers can get automated voice or text message reminders of their appointments.

Deepmine, by Ryan Alyea

Deepmine is already an app in the App Store, and it's a data mining app that lets you sort, sift through and analyze your shop's data "like a boss". It lets you see which items are moving well, which items are the laggards, what's backordered, whether or not your campaigns and promotions are effective. In short: it reveals what's working for your shop and what isn't. Ryan wants to be able to work full-time on improvements for the next version of Deepmine, and the Shopify Fund will allow him to do just that.

When we told Ryan that Deepmine was getting funded, he was quite pleased:

Landing Page Optimization

This is a landing page optimization and personalization app that shows customers different products on the page they land on, based on the search engine query that brought them to the shop, their browser navigation history and product match. It customizes your shop for every customer who visits!

Shopify Platform Book, by Dave "HunkyBill" Lazar

This one isn't an app, but the idea was so good that we hand to fund it. Dave's been working with the Shopify platform since it was in beta and has written apps for a number of shops and helped them grow their business. He's worked it from both the technical and business angles for years now, and he's decided to collect his knowledge in a book. We think this will be useful for both shopowners and developers, so we're funding him so he can work full-time on this book, which we'll then distribute free to Shopify shopowners, partners, developers and anyone curious about the Shopify ecommerce platform.

What's Next?

As the "First Four" moniker implies, this is only the beginning. We want more apps, utilities and other useful things to make Shopify's great ecommerce platform even better, which is what the Shopify Fund's all about. We'll be talking about the Shopify Fund regularly here on the Shopify Blog and the Shopify Technology Blog to keep you up-to-date on the projects we're sponsoring.

If you've got any questions about the Shopify Fund, the projects or our plans, please don't hesitate to ask -- feel free to post them in the comments or email us at fund@shopify.com!