Shopify wants to support small businesses with new coworking program in WeWork spaces

WeWork Montreal Common Room

Shopify has announced a partnership with WeWork to establish its Shopify Partner Accelerator, which the company hopes will support web developers and designers with both resources and workspace and attract more users to the Shopify platform.

Businesses can apply to work in a WeWork coworking space for three months while receiving mentorship from Shopify. Coworking spaces include cities like Montreal, New York, Austin, and London.

Part of the application requires signing up as a Shopify partner, which provides third party developers and designers to sign up for free marketing materials, in-depth documentation, and workshops and webinars. The program operates on a revenue share model where, every time a partner refers a client they work with to Shopify, the partner receives 20 percent of monthly revenue share.

“We’re essentially forming a network of industry professionals that can offer Shopify services to merchants, and it’s a massive ecosystem where we haven’t met demand.”

“My job at Shopify is to provide the tools and resources that these partners need to succeed, and a lot of time they have incredible design and development skills, but they don’t have core businesses skills like invoicing or what to charge clients,” said Courtney Symons, partner marketing manager at Shopify. “We saw these problems pop up again and again and we thought, if we want to supply people with what they need to succeed, maybe we start from the ground up and give them a space to work as well as an opportunity to work with other creative people in the industry.”

Businesses working as part of the Shopify Partner Accelerator will have access to their own partner manager at WeWork, who will act as a personal coach for each business, as well as providing channels for designers and developers to be connected to contacts at Shopify who can take their venture to the next level. The businesses will all work together, which Symons notes will encourage the businesses to share best practices.

Through WeWork, businesses can also take advantage of in-person workshops, webinars, and collaborative events. “We’re essentially forming a network of industry professionals that can offer Shopify services to merchants, and it’s a massive ecosystem where we haven’t met demand,” said Symons.

WeWork Montreal

WeWork’s Montreal location

In the past, Shopify has turned to community initiatives to encourage more businesses to use and advocate for its platform, including its Build a Business competition, which recently rewarded leading Shopify business owners a five-day stay in Oheka Castle with mentors like Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke.

The Accelerator was developed off the framework of what Symons calls an experiment that the company launched in New York City — the company chose its top Shopify partners to support, but found that these business owners already had a handle on the platform and established networks. “Earlier stage businesses who are brand new to the Partner Program have a lot to learn, and we can show them opportunities they don’t have otherwise known were there,” said Symons.

Applications are open until Friday, September 24, while businesses are expected to move into each accelerator by October 3.

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang

Jessica Galang is BetaKit's News Editor.