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> "Everyone's being told, 'Don't go public,'" Ries said.

In my experience, If there is consensus around something, it's often a great idea to do the opposite.

I decided to take my company public last year and it has been exactly the right thing for us. As far as I can see it, there is absolutely no reason to wait if your company and your team is ready.




With a tiny chance you might answer, I'm curious.. how did Shopify come about? Did you start an eCommerce store yourself, have bad luck, but then say "hey we could take all this tech we just built and sell that instead"? Or was shopify always the goal?


Exactly as you said. I build a online store to sell Snowboards back in 2004. The business worked really well but the software was clearly even better. The snowboards ended up financing building Shopify. The first checkin into the Shopify git repository was the first checkin to the original online store (although I used Darcs as SCM back then, I converted the history over to Git ).

We actually put together a mini documentary about Shopify for our IPO Roadshow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYl8iwD-6tk It's worth the watch if you are into this kind of thing. We decided to do this because Shopify grew out outside of the Silicon Valley sphere and wasn't that well known before our IPO. That has clearly changed since.


That documentary was really interesting and beautifully shot.

I refer a whole bunch of stuff towards shopify since I get inquiries about building e-commerce stuff all the time where they have some money but not enough to make it worth doing a bespoke solution and frankly unless they want to drop serious money your platform is always going to be better.

I'm over in the UK and I saw a talk a while back by one of the shopify guys (Keir Whitaker iirc, it was a couple of years ago) that was superbly well done which made me look at the platform.


Interesting you mentioned the marketing/exposure benefit aspect of going public. This point is overlooked a lot.


How did you approach getting your first customers when you had an MVP?


I developed an early (technical) following because I was one of the people behind Ruby on Rails. That lead to the first few customers because technical people are often asked for recommendations for software. Keep in mind this was in 2006, a very different time from today.


Awesome. If you had to do it all over again, do you think you could have been successful with Shopify if you'd started today?


Building companies is 90% luck (timing, competition, demand, macro trends, technology penetration, also health & passion of the team). So... I doubt it.


> if your company and your team is ready.

And what does that look like?


Right, that's the key question. In my case, it just felt that way one day.

Running a Public company looks like a daunting task before you are ready, and it doesn't look like a big deal after you are ready. Building a company is a journey of personal growth, at some point your personal growth as a leader takes you past the point where a IPO looks daunting. Then you make your move.




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