For the Love of Building
Shopify Partner Program: Jay Smiling
The Shopify Partner Program helps freelancers and agencies start and scale their businesses. Read on to see how Bold scaled their business as a Shopify Partner.
When Jay Myers started building an app in his basement with three friends, it wasn’t for the fame and fortune. In fact, the original goal was to make some spare beer money.
“It was totally an experiment. We didn’t even think it would turn into a business,” he recalls. “I think we just loved the idea of building things.”
Despite being an experiment, the four friends involved — Jay, Stefan Maynard, Yvan Boisjoli, and Eric Boisjoli — were zealous about their newfound obsession: the Shopify App Store.
- Bold Commerce
- Apps, ecommerce design and development
- Shopify Partner
- Since 2012
From a family of entrepreneurs, and with years of experience managing his own ecommerce business (outside his nine-to-five), Jay understood the merchant perspective. When he stumbled onto the Shopify App Store, the connection was almost instant.
When I saw an ecommerce platform with an app store, a light bulb went off in my head. I thought, let’s try to build an app.
It was early 2012. At the time, Shopify had roughly 40,000 shops and 100 apps in the app store. There weren’t yet any examples proving that building a Shopify app could turn into a full-time business. But Jay wasn’t focused on that.
First, he called friend and web designer Stefan, and the pair hatched a plan to pitch their idea to brothers and web developers, Yvan and Eric.
“Eric and I were always building products,” Yvan explains. “We’re developers, we’ve always explored apps, we love to dabble, we love new ideas. So when Stef and Jay pitched their idea, it just made sense to us.”
The excitement between the four friends was instant. Here was their chance to build something new and innovative. Back then, they all had successful careers in their respective industries, and they each had lucrative side businesses, too.
“I don’t think anybody was complaining about where they were in life,” Jay says.
There’s just something special about building a product, and seeing people actually using and paying money for what you’ve built.
Their work lives, side hustles, and families (some of the guys had newborns at home) made it challenging to get their new venture off the ground. But it didn’t stop them, or even slow them down for that matter.
“It was a lot of work, but those were some of the most exciting times,” Jay admits. “Every spare moment you had, you were jumping on your laptop. We would work full days at our jobs, and then we’d get home and work on the app till one, two, even three in the morning.”
Within two months of their first meeting, the four guys had joined the Shopify Partner Program and launched their app, Product Upsell. It was an instant hit.
Within a few days, they were plotting what app to build next, who was going to quit their job first, and how they were going to turn their side hustle into a full-on business.
“We had no idea if it was going to be a success,” Jay recalls. “It was a super exciting time.”
By early 2013, all four friends, and two new employees, were working full-time on their new app business, Bold Commerce.
Fast forward four years, and Bold has become synonymous with Shopify app development. With 21 public apps and hundreds of private ones, the Bold team has grown from four guys in a basement to an award-winning company with over 150 employees — labelled the fastest growing tech company in their home province of Manitoba, Canada.
What’s helped us accelerate our business is how well the platform was built. From an infrastructure side, Shopify makes it super easy to be a partner building apps.
Bold builds apps and offers ecommerce services only on Shopify; a conscious decision from the early days of their company. Back then, Jay remembers the partner program was smaller in both size and scope; nonetheless, its mission to help partners succeed felt larger than life.
“It was all about the relationships,” Jay says. “At every turn, you got the sense that everyone at Shopify really wanted to see us succeed. They had faith and were invested in our success. We were like, ‘Wow, Shopify really cares about their partners, let’s go all in on Shopify.’”
Now a Shopify Plus Partner, Bold continues to ride the wave of faith and support from the partner program. Consistently held up as an example of success in the Shopify app community, the company continues to thrive and add new products and service offerings.
Today, Bold’s culture is strongly rooted in their foundational days of building — so much so that they’ve created “The Builder’s Code,” an internal ethos on what drives and guides their team into new frontiers. The ability to build a business from the ground up has meant a great deal to the four friends.
Shopify has been everything to us, it’s our lifeblood.
“The partner program is amazing, from the people, to the APIs, to the documentation — coupled with how customizable everything is — it’s all enabled us to build the products and business we wanted to build.”
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