Shopify's Build-A-Business Competition Winners Revealed


There's only one way to get over your fear of failure -- to fail. Maybe more than once.

The 10 winners of Shopify's fourth annual Build-A-Business Competition are all entrepreneurs who weren't afraid to fail.

Eight months ago, we challenged people to launch a brand new business and start selling. When they entered the competition, each participant chose a category best describing their shop. The store that sold the most in each category during a two-month period would take home the prize.

Each of our winners will receive $50,000 and a VIP trip to New York City to meet with industry experts who will become their mentors.

We are proud to announce that the winners are:

Bolder Bands (Fashion & Apparel)
Tatsup (Photography & Art)
MVMT Watches (Jewellery & Crafts)
The WOD Life (Sports & Recreation)
Orchard Flats (Food & Beverage)
EZ Lite Cruiser (Health & Beauty)
Output Sounds (Music)
Drones Etc. (Everything Else)
Zoom Hash (Electronics & Gadgets)
Polar Pen (Canadian Winner)

Collectively, we had more than 21,000 participants who sold more than $120 million in revenue. Do you think they didn't lose some nights' sleep because they wondered if launching their business was the right choice; whether their idea was even a good one?

Arianna Huffington herself told us that one of her books was rejected by 36 publishers. And yet she approached a 37th.

Perhaps Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and one of our Build-A-Business Mentors, put it best: "It doesn't matter how many times you fail. You only have to be right one time. And then everyone can call you an overnight success."

Or, as we fondly quote musician Lil Jon (another of our mentors): "Just grab your nuts and go out there and just do it."

Failure didn't stop Drones Etc., launched by two friends and former college dorm roommates. The business that won them this competition (selling drones that attach to GoPro cameras) was their fourth attempt. What if they'd given up after their third try? They wouldn't be headed to New York City to receive their $50,000 cash prize and a meeting with their mentor, entrepreneur and author Tim Ferriss.

In New York, they'll share entrepreneurial stories about how they scratched their own itch to build their businesses. Bolder Band was the brainchild of a woman who was sick and tired of her athletic headband flying off every time she went for a run. Tatsup was created by a tattoo parlour owner in Melbourne who noticed the need for a reliable tattoo supply provider in the area.

If you have the need for something, chances are there are others out there searching for a solution -- but that doesn't mean you shouldn't test the market. A great example of a business who did this right is MVMT Watches. They couldn't find the business-casual watch they were looking for at a price they considered reasonable -- so they created their own.

They decided to launch an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign to raise money but also to test out the market demand for their product. Their goal was to raise $15K. They ended up with $220K in pre-orders, making them one of Indiegogo's most successful campaigns in their industry.

Our Canadian winner, Polar Pen, raised an impressive $800,000 on Kickstarter for their product, even though they'd only been shooting for $14,000. Think they were on to something? We do.

But it's not only online sales that drove the success of our winners. In fact, Orchard Flats doesn't even sell their cold-pressed juices online. They use Shopify POS to power the five retail locations they've opened since last October. They're a perfect illustration of the fact that the future of retail is wherever the customer wants to shop.

Many of our winners have expanded their businesses to a staff of four or six. Our winning entrepreneurs have quit their day jobs to focus full-time on what was, for many, initially a passion project. These businesses are less than eight months old, and only beginning to grow. Who knows how many jobs could be created from these 10 businesses alone?

We're grateful to each and every competitor who took a chance and launched their business on Shopify. We've been so excited to share some of their success stories on The Huffington Post. Most of all, we're excited to see these businesses continue to grow and flourish.

We'll leave you with these words from Mark Cuban, discussing some of the success stories he's seen on ABC's The Shark Tank. We know these words apply to our winners as well:

"There is no model. These weren't the richest people with the best connections ... They were people who put their heart and soul and all their effort into their businesses."

That effort and passion is why there are not only 10 winners in Shopify's Build-A-Business Competition, but 21,000 -- each and every competitor that made the leap into entrepreneurship.

Read Shopify's blog post to view an incredible infographic about the competition, and to learn the stories behind each of this year's winning entrepreneurs.