Shopify is well-known for its agile startup-like culture despite going public a year ago. Earlier this month, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein outlined how the company still hosts hackathons and “Ask Me Anything” sessions with its employees in an effort to always stay innovative.
“We have done work internationally for Shopify. This is just a way for us to try a different experience and try a different venue.” – Bruno Roldan
For the past six months or so, a core team has been working on GoSpaces under Shopify Garage — the general name the company gives to experimental company projects. GoSpaces allows users to build a website for free. The platform has features similar to Shopify — including payments processing, task automation, and an easy-to-use website builder — but Bruno Roldan, Shopify’s VP of Growth, says that the launch comes down to testing the reception in foreign markets.
“It’s an experiment and we might take the learning from here and push it over to Shopify, and that’s kind of how we’re looking at it,” said Roldan. “We want to expand into these markets really fast, learn, sit back and say ‘Hey should we expand on this platform, or should we further some of these learnings into the Shopify platform.”
Roldan said that the team “simplified” the Shopify experience in GoSpaces for these international markets. As a more flexible platform, the GoSpaces team says that earlier stage businesses can validate and test ideas more easily.
“We’ve found in a lot of markets credit card penetrations aren’t what they are over here; the circumstances around ecommerce are very different. We are looking at this model where it’s not just about ecommerce, it’s about getting people set up online.”
And there are many opportunities for making a mark across these markets, which Roldan said doesn’t have many competitors — GoSpaces reports that Singapore is the top-rated country for doing business, and Italy and Greece have the highest levels of youth entrepreneurship. “We’ve seen high demand already internationally, and those countries where we see high demand are the languages were starting out with.”
The project is still in its early stages as the team looks forward to learning more about what international customers are looking for as a go-to ecommerce platform. “We have done work internationally for Shopify. We’ve continuously added different payment gateways, put forth different currencies on the platform, and this is just a way for us to try a different experience and try a different venue,” Roldan said.