Canadian Harley Finkelstein is only 30.
He was a student. Then a lawyer. Then a snowboarder who wanted to sell shirts on the web to pay for school.
Today, Finkelstein is the chief platform officer of Shopify, an IT powerhouse whose effective and easy-to-use software kits let customers design, create, deploy, and manage their own online retail stores. All in one box.
Shopify’s software now powers over 90,000 online storefronts in 122 countries. Those same virtual shops collectively pulled in $1.7 billion in 2013, according to the company.
Shopify’s client roster is rocking — and growing fast: Tesla, Google, Gatorade, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Beastie Boys. They have 375 employees with offices in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. Shopify is a SaaS powered platform and they make money with subscription fees. Seventy percent of their clients reside in the U.S.
But don’t look for the Canadians to open up shop here anytime soon — if ever.
“We’re happy where we are,” Finkelstein said. “In the Valley, good people are always moving around. In Canada it’s all about employee loyalty. We have employee training programs. People like working for us.”
The software player has raised over $122 million in venture cash and may go in for more. But that’s unlikely. The ‘aging’ startup raked in approximately $40 million last year and 2014 promises to be much better, in the $80 plus million ballpark.
Shopify launched in 2006 as an e-commerce sit. The software code was written by Finkelstein’s pal Tobias Lutke, a fellow Canadian and German immigrant.
Today, Lutke, who founded Shopify, is chief executive.
The e-commerce space is crowded, but the duo seems to have figured it out. eBay, for one, is not a competitor, but, as Finkelstein puts it, they “now help our sales channels.” Square they don’t worry about. In Europe, they are dominating in the UK, Germany, and France.
Venture capitalist Amish Jani with First Mark Capital has invested $10 million into Shopify and has been there from the A round. He chalks up his investment’s success to a few factors: talent and luck.
“Toby (CEO) builds incredible products very quickly. There’s incredible demand for Shopify’s product. And they have the right timing. People are now comfortable transacting online.”