Ask almost any entrepreneur if she'd like a little help getting her company off the ground and, well, this is a family publication so I won't tell you exactly what they'd say. But it rhymes with BUCK, YEAH!
That's where Shopify comes in. For the past three years, the e-commerce platform has run its Build-A-Business competition, offering winners a $50,000 jolt of funding in exchange for a 5% stake in the company.
"A lot of people have a great business idea, they just need a little push to make it a reality," Shopify cofounder and CEO Tobias Lütke said in announcing this year's winners (more on that soon). "This competition helps turn ideas into profitable businesses."
For this year's would-be winners, help also came in the form of four mentors: 4-Hour Workweek pop-guru Timothy Ferriss, Daymond John of Shark Tank and FUBU fame, Swissmiss's Tina Roth Eisenberg, and Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup. The mentors offered entrants sales and marketing pointers.
To underscore how much entrepreneurs love help, consider these numbers: There were over 10,000 contestants in the 2012-13 edition of Build-A-Business. That's some 7,000 more than the last time the competition was held. Those 10,000-plus companies sold more than $55 million worth of goods over the nine months the contest lasted. All of which suggests the winners had one serious fight on their hands.
Speaking of hands, let's all put ours together for this year's winners:
- In the electronics and gadgets category, GameKlip won for building an Android-powered connection to Sony's DualShock3 controller, making mobile gaming an even greater joy(stick).
- Fresh-Tops dominated fashion this year with Nella Chunky's bold, glitter-mad creations.
- Standford engineer Debbie Sterling used considerable Kickstarter cash to create, GoldieBlox, a books and toy company that promotes engineering futures for girls.
- SkinnyMe Tea won the intriguingly named Everything Else category with a line of natural teas.
- Finally, in the Canadian biz-off (watch the jokes, hosers, Shopify is a Canadian company), Aron Slipacoff started a site called Canadian Icons to sell "Canadiana" such as down parkas and handmade mukluks and moccasins. It's not clear if poutine is also available.
The winners head to New York City next Tuesday to meet their masters, er, mentors, score $20,000 in digital advertising, and have a media strategy session with editors at Fast Company.
For a fuller, more beautiful look at the competition by the numbers, check out the infographic below.
Now, if you'll excuse me, this poutine ain't gonna eat itself.
[Image: Flickr user D. Sharon Pruitt]