Why we love the culture at Shopify

Shopify, the leading e-commerce builder that's made it possible for anyone with Internet access to create an online store, not only has an innovative product, but also has a forward thinking culture behind it. 

The company, which was founded in Ottawa, Canada in 2004, has over 200,000 merchants who have sold over $10 billion through their platform. Like many companies that end up developing cool, authentic cultures, the founders didn't set out to build a "unicorn" (the tech term for a company valued at $1B+). They were just trying to build something cool that they thought should exist in the world. 

Back in 2004, Tobias Lütke, Daniel Weinand, and Scott Lake were trying to open an online store for their snowboard brand, Snowdevil. Frustrated with the e-commerce options available at the time, Lütke—a computer programmer—developed his own platform (never hurts to have brains like that on your team).

The trio launched what is now Shopify in 2006, opening their digital doors to anyone who's ever dreamed of creating their own online store. Today they employ over 1,000 people in four Canadian cities. 

As you can imagine, attracting, engaging and retaining 1,000+ people isn't easy. Developing a healthy, engaged culture when a company is young is pretty accessible, but scaling it to this size is a whole other challenge. Yet, with some strategic moves and a commitment to authenticity, Shopify was able to build—and grow—a culture worth emulating.

Here's what we've learned about their culture so far.

Inside Shopify's Montreal office

Inside Shopify's Montreal office

They hire the best—and the best are diverse

Unlike many tech startups that focus on hiring millennials, Shopify's employees range in age from 18 to 62. They also come from 20 different countries. That's because Shopify aims to hire the best talent in the world, and that can't be broken down to one niche demographic. Not surprisingly, this makes it tough to get hired there. Shopify has an intensive hiring process, and according to OfficeVibe, only about 0.9% of people who apply land a job there.

Shopify's Montreal office—where no one has desks! (via Tower Trip)

Shopify's Montreal office—where no one has desks! (via Tower Trip)

They support their team members as their families grow

One of the biggest challenges women in tech face is juggling the demands of a fast-paced career while raising a growing family. While some workplaces make it nearly impossible to keep up both at work and at home, Shopify has proactively instated policies to help their team members continue to develop in their roles, while also fulfilling their family goals. 

They do this through up to 17 weeks of paid maternity and paternity leave, a new baby bonus of $1,000, another $3,000 annually per child until the child is 5, and increased flexibility around working remotely. According to their website, Shopify parents currently have 39 babies. 

Not limited to new parents (but surely very helpful to them), Shopify extends a house cleaning perk to its employees, offering 2 hours of free house cleaning every 2 weeks

They care about employee wellness

"We believe that wellness plays a huge part in doing a great job," Daniel Weinand, Shopify's Co-Founder and Chief Culture Officer, told OfficeVibe. "When we offer breakfasts, lunches and snacks, it’s not just about the perk itself. It’s about making sure people stay healthy."

In addition to daily catered lunches, Shopify offers what they call a $250 "Sportify" allowance, which can be used toward a gym membership, as well as fitness gear like running shoes or yoga mats. 

Inside Shopify's Toronto Office (via Officelovin)

Inside Shopify's Toronto Office (via Officelovin)

They offer coaching to their leadership teams

When Cody Fauser was promoted to Shopify's CTO, the company hired executive coach Cam Gregg to prepare him for the leadership position. The company found so much benefit from the coaching experience, that they brought Gregg in as part-time coach when the company had about 60 employees, and as a full-time coach when they hit 160 employees.

Gregg now leads Shopify's Talent Acceleration group, which offers one-on-one coaching for executives, and mentor coaching for 1st and 2nd level managers. 

"Talent development is often an afterthought or an obligatory check on the checklist once a company reaches a certain size," writes Boris Wertz of Version One Ventures. "It’s refreshing to see Shopify develop such an innovative approach to making sure company leaders are nurtured and developed at all levels of the organization." 

Inside Shopify Toronto (via Officelovin)

Inside Shopify Toronto (via Officelovin)

Other perks

  • Shopify offers stock options (they went public last May: TSE:SH)
  • Flexible work hours
  • They provide team members with the latest Apple gear
  • They offer full medical coverage, including health and dental
  • They have cool holiday bonuses. Last year, they gave everyone $1,000 to spend in Shopify stores. That's over $1M!
  • They're big on philanthropy. Shopify runs community workshops, including one for local kids who have run away from home 

Over to you 

Who's your company culture crush? We're doing a whole series on companies with remarkable cultures, and we'd love to hear which ones you think are noteworthy. Leave us a comment below, or email us at editor @hrisdead.com.