My new store: Real Estate Flyers

A few months ago Shopify’s VP of Marketing bet me $100 that I couldn’t build an online store and get a first sale before February 1st 2013. I chose to sell artificial plants, flowers and trees for no reason in particular other than it would be funny to see people’s expressions when you told them you sell flowers online. It’s the same logic that sent me to Antarctica for a vacation to escape the Canadian winter.

It turned out that running an online store is more addictive than ecstasy induced bubble wrap popping. I decided I want to open another store, but this time it’s going to be different. This time I’m going to try and pick a product that I actually know a thing or two about.

I picked Real Estate Flyers.

I don’t know much about the real estate industry, but I do know a thing or two about designing great flyers. Fortunately my esteemed colleage and juice connoisseur, Bruno knows all about the flyer business as a former realtor himself.

The idea is to sell DIY real estate flyers to realtors to feature their properties. The trick is to make it dead simple to customize the feature sheet templates so that any realtor can edit them. It only takes an agent 5-10 minutes to customize these feature sheets and print it off when they have finished editing it.

This is what the site looked like when it launched

I conjured up the flyer site in three days, using the code/design from Silk Artificial. Then spent the week making feature sheet flyers. When I made 9 flyers I hit the launch button and SnapFlyers went live.

Both Silk Artificial and Real Estate Flyers share the same designer

It took me about 3 weeks before I sold my first flower on Silk Artificial, so you can imagine my surprise when some cheery chap from Australia purchased a flyer within 48 hours of being live.

I received my first order within the first 2 days

It’s now been a week since I launched the site and already it’s been more profitable than Silk Artificial. This could be fun.

The best month ever

A quick recap on what has probably been one of the most exciting months this year…

Featured in Entrepreneurs magazine

The notoriously well connected and overall good looking chap Mark Hayes got an article profiling Angry Birds and Shopify’s success in Entrepreneur magazine. It centered around how Shopify (me) got their site up and running  in less than 72 hours. From Wednesday Oct 27th, until Friday Oct 29th I went home, turned my phone off, injected red bull into the blood stream and worked. Surprisingly, 8 months later and their shop is still largely unchanged from my original and wow, is it ever doing well.

I got back from the Himalayas

I got back from visiting tallest mountains in the world including Everest and the Annapurnas. Out of Kenya, Peru, and whatever other country I’ve stumbled upon, Nepal was truly a spectacular adventure. Me and my pops hunted rhino on the backs of elephants, brushed death in a car crash, accidently ended up in Bangladesh, canoed through crocodile infested waters, and played a soccer match at the foot of Annapurna One.




 New position at Shopify

I’m now responsible for the UI and UX of the admin at Shopify. Over the past few years at Shopify I’ve done a lot, I’ve designed the documentation, forums, partners area,, app store, theme store, themes, admin, theme reviews and a smattering of other projects.  Being responsible for all those projects took a massive toll on me and I felt overwhelmed.

Now that I’m responsible for one area, I have a renewed sense of energy and you bet your bollocks that we have some wicked stuff in the tubes for Shopify stores.

A visit from Epic Meal Time

Epic Meal Time is an immensely popular TV show, especially among the youngins. They came to the Shopify head office and filmed an episode from our rooftop patio. It was insanity. I didn’t realize what a big deal they were until we walked the streets of Ottawa and got stopped every few minutes so people could take photos with them.  Turns out they know how to party as well.

Lightning Talks booked for the next 2 months

I started this thing called Lightning Talks at Shopify. Basically you get up in front of the whole office and talk about something interesting for 5 minutes. It could be a lesson in typography, pottery, brewing your own beer, haikus, whatever. It’s been a huge hit and we’ve had 55 talks in the past 8 months and over half the people at Shopify have spoken.

Anyway, it’s been such a success that for next 2 months we are fully booked with talks.

This is post is getting arduous, so let’s shout out the remaining tid bits….

  • A pigeon flew through my drivers side window while I was driving 40mph
  • Signed a new apartment for a presentable 2 bedroom flat, steps from where all the Ottawa “night life” is
  • I launched a new company called Splendid Themes - watch this space
  • Soccer team is undefeated after 4 games
  • I’ve got 600+ followers now on twitter
  • In 24h 7000 people clicked on my tweet
  • I ran I 5k in 26:29 (top time for this year)
  • I did a ton of design stuff, but I’ll save that for another post.

Let’s see what else this year brings!

SXSW bound

SXSW is a massive interactive/music/film conference in Austin Texas and I’ll be there babysitting the other lads from Shopify: Harley, Daniel, Cody, Tobi, Toby and the other Mark.

I’m already meeting up with a few awesome chaps and I can’t wait to see how SXSW compares with Future of Web Design (FOWD) and Future of Web Apps (FOWA).