The four stores that sell the most over a two-month period will each receive a $50,000 investment for a five per cent equity stake from a mentor, which will value the company at $1 million.
This year, mentors include Daymond John, creator of the fashion brand FUBU; Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek; Tina Roth Eisenberg, creator of the swissmiss blog; and Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup.
Winners are also entitled to a trip to New York City to meet with the four mentors, as well as $20,000 in Google Adwords credits and a feature article published on online business publication Fast Company’s website.
Registration for the contest opened July 10, but the actual competition won’t begin until Aug.1, when gross sales are calculated, until the contest’s completion at the end of February 2013.
Last year, more than 3,000 participants rang up over $12 million in sales – a significant increase from 2010’s 1,300 contestants generating $3.5 million, and what Shopify’s chief platform officer Harley Finkelstein referred to as a “fairy tale ending” to the contest.
The company predicts that this will be the biggest year yet.
“This competition is intended as a benevolent and encouraging kick in the ass,” stated Mr. Ferriss. “This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it does require stepping outside your comfort zone for a bit to realize this isn’t that hard. It’s just unfamiliar. If you do it now, a lot of people will be in the same boat and you’ll take the trip together.”
Last year, a grand prize of $100,000 was awarded to Coffee Joulies, a startup from New Jersey that built an online store using Shopify to sell its stainless steel "coffee beans" that regulate coffee temperature. Shopify did not disclose how much revenue Coffee Joulies generated online during the eight-month contest period.
A separate contest for Canadians exists to bypass the law prohibiting companies from giving out cash prizes to winners of a skill-based competition.
Clearpath Robotics won the Canadian category award last year and was given $15,000 in Google Adwords credits plus a $5,000 Apple gift card. The Kitchener-based company has developed a fully customizable robot called TurtleBot.
Shopify’s e-commerce platform currently hosts over 25,000 active online retailers including Gatorade, Amnesty International and General Electric. The company has received $22 million in Series A and B funding from Bessemer Venture Partners, FirstMark Capital, Felicis Ventures, and Georgian Partners.