Shopify's entrepreneurial spirit is so strong that even its president has a side hustle. Here's how more than 30 employees launched their own businesses and helped create the 'Shopify Mafia'.

Shopify's entrepreneurial spirit is so strong that even its president has a side hustle. Here's how more than 30 employees launched their own businesses and helped create the 'Shopify Mafia'.
Arati Sharma, Chris Grouchy, Effie Anolik, and Roger Kirkness have all pursued entrepreneurship since leaving Shopify.Backbone Angels; Convictional; Effie Anolik; Shopify; Savanna Durr/Insider
  • Shopify encourages entrepreneurship among its employees.
  • Many employees have left the company to start businesses of their own.

As the self-proclaimed "entrepreneurship company," Shopify builds and offers tools for some 2 million merchants to run their online stores. The company frequently highlights merchant success stories on its corporate blog and on earnings calls.

But Shopify's messaging on entrepreneurship extends to its own employees, too. Company leaders encourage employees to start their own businesses in addition to their day jobs, hosting internal business competitions and allowing employees to expense up to $1,000 in business-related costs per year.

Even Shopify's president, Harley Finkelstein, has a side hustle: He runs Shopify-powered DTC tea brand Firebelly Tea with David Segal, the founder of DavidsTea. Finkelstein previously told Insider that having a side hustle helps him to better understand Shopify's product and to have empathy for the platform's merchant base.

"I talk a lot about the highs and lows of being an entrepreneur in my role at Shopify," he said. "Firebelly allows me to experience that firsthand."

Other company leaders have their own Shopify stores, too, like Atlee Clark, who is the director of operations for Shop and also cofounded the kids' and women's apparel brand Pika Layers.


"We have long said that Shopify is a company for entrepreneurs, built by entrepreneurs," a Shopify spokesperson previously told Insider. "We promote a spirit of entrepreneurship internally and encourage our employees to pursue their passions and side projects."

Insider has profiled dozens of Shopify employees who have become entrepreneurs. Read their stories below:

A 'Shopify Mafia' founder on how he built his brand while working full-time: 'Shopify is the only company in the world where you can have a million-dollar side hustle'

Greg Macdonald already had a Shopify store when he joined the e-commerce company as a merchant-success manager in 2016. But his bath-products brand, Bathorium, grew dramatically during his five years at the company.

Eventually, the store had grown successful enough for Macdonald to quit the e-commerce giant and run Bathorium full-time. He told Insider about his experience running a "million-dollar side hustle" while still working at Shopify.

Shopify encourages its employees to launch stores as side hustles. This entrepreneur quit the company to run his store full time and now generates about $30,000 in monthly sales.


Daniel Patricio was working on Shopify's product team when he launched Bull and Cleaver, a Shopify store selling the South African beef jerky product biltong, in 2015.

But the side hustle eventually grew larger than Patricio expected, and he quit his job at Shopify to work on Bull and Cleaver full-time. He shared the story behind his biltong brand with Insider.

This 'Shopify Mafia' offshoot has invested $2.3 million in women-led startups. 2 partners share what they're looking to invest in next.

In the spring of 2021, 10 Shopify employees — some current, some former — launched Backbone Angels, an angel investment collective focused on funding startups founded by women, particularly women of color.

A year in, they had invested more than $2 million in new startups. They outlined some of their investment priorities in interviews with Insider.


Meet 34 members of the 'Shopify Mafia' who embraced the e-commerce giant's entrepreneurial spirit and launched their own companies

Many other Shopify employees have left the company to pursue entrepreneurship full-time. Insider has interviewed more than 30 of them, including Michael Perry, who left Shopify to build the parenting-software startup Maple, and Erin Chan, who cofounded the rental marketing platform Rhenti after years as a product manager at Shopify.

Several alums went on to build software meant to help engineers simplify coding, like Harry Brundage and Mohammad Hashemi, who cofounded Gadget, and Ken Rose, who cofounded OpsLevel.

Others doubled down on DTC and launched their own Shopify stores.