Shopify’s Build a Business Competition winners announced; they will spend five days with Sir Richard Branson on his private island

All six winners will spend five days with Sir Richard Branson on his private island

OTTAWA, ONTARIO, 2015-7-14 — /EPR Retail News/ — Shopify Inc. (“Shopify”) (NYSE: SHOP, TSX: SH), — a leading cloud-based commerce platform, today announced the winners of its Build a Business Competition. Over the course of eight months, tens of thousands of new businesses were created, generating over 4 million orders, and resulting in more than $250 million in sales. This year’s products ranged from a GPS-enabled suitcase, to a wearable that zaps users to reduce bad habits, to an innovative mattress.

“We knew that for our fifth year, we had to go bigger and better, which is why we chose to work with Sir Richard, one of the most accomplished and inspirational entrepreneurs in the world,” said Harley Finkelstein, the Chief Platform Officer of Shopify. “We knew that the grand prize of spending a week on a private island, getting advice and mentoring from the likes of Sir Richard, Seth Godin, and Tim Ferriss, would motivate people to kickstart their ideas into actual businesses and I’m amazed at this year’s group of entrepreneurs, businesses and products.”

To be eligible in the Build a Business Competition, entrepreneurs had to start an entirely new company and sell their products using the Shopify platform. The contest ran from October 1, 2014 to May 31, 2015, and at the end of the competition, the top six stores that sold the most, over a two-month period were named the winners. The grand prize includes a trip on a private jet to Necker Island, to spend five days of mentorship with some of the biggest entrepreneurs in the world, including Sir Richard Branson, Daymond John, Tim Ferriss, Marie Forleo and Seth Godin.

Here is a summary of the six winning businesses, their innovative products, and the entrepreneurs themselves:

Leesa: David Wolfe’s goal was to tap into the lucrative mattress industry by creating a high quality but affordable mattress that could get shipped directly to the consumer. Leesa is just that — a luxury mattress for under $1,000.

Trunkster: After living out of their suitcases while travelling for business, Jesse Potash and Gaston Blanchet had an idea for a piece of luggage that was zipperless, with a built-in GPS, scale, and mobile charger. After raising $1.4 million through a Kickstarter campaign, Trunkster was born.

Shore Projects: Based in London, England, Shore Projects was founded by three serial entrepreneurs who had never designed, manufactured and sold a product before. Taking influence from the British seaside, they chose to create a watch that was a timeless, quality product that could be worn every day.

PAVLOK: After experimenting with various ways to increase productivity, Maneesh Sethi realized that there were dozens of wearables tracking behavior but not one that actually changed behavior. Based on the work of psychologist Ivan Pavlov and 80+ years of clinical research, Sethi created PAVLOK, a wearable that uses classical conditioning to break bad habits. Customers have used PAVLOK to quit smoking, nail biting, overeating, drinking, thinking negative thoughts, and more.

Little Letter Lights Co.: Based out of Adelaide, Australia, Lucy Nourse and her husband Rob wanted to start a business so that she could spend more time with their kids by working from home. She knew she wanted a product for children that was unique, safe, and affordable so she created her letter lights.

Coco White: Based out of London, England, Jonny Teeling and Will Peirce were looking to start a new business venture. They honed in on two key trends: the desire for an all natural teeth whitening product, and the concept of oil pulling. After drawing up some unique packaging designs and testing out different prices, Coco White was ready for market.

For more details on this year’s Build a Business winners, visit For more information on Build a Business Competition, visit

About Shopify

Shopify is a leading cloud-based commerce platform designed for small and medium-sized businesses. Merchants can use the software to design, set up and manage their stores across multiple sales channels, including web, mobile, social media, brick-and-mortar locations, and pop-up shops. This provides a merchant a single view of their business. The Shopify platform was engineered for reliability and scale, using enterprise-level technology made available to businesses of all sizes. Shopify currently powers over 165,000 businesses in approximately 150 countries, including: Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Wikipedia, LA Lakers, GoldieBlox, and many more.

Whole Foods Market partners with Austin-based BeeSweet Lemonade as the newest recipient of its Local Producer Loan Program

Young entrepreneur and recent ‘Shark Tank’ contestant receives low-interest loan from national grocer

AUSTIN, Texas, 2015-4-9 — /EPR Retail News/ — Whole Foods Market is partnering with Austin-based BeeSweet Lemonade, founded by 10-year-old Mikaila Ulmer, as the newest recipient of a low-interest loan through the company’s Local Producer Loan Program. Ulmer’s high-quality lemonade, made with mint, honey and flaxseed, is currently sold in 32 Whole Foods Market stores, with plans to expand into new regions in 2015.

“We began with just one BeeSweet Lemonade flavor, but now with a loan from Whole Foods Market, we can add a new flavor, share it with more shoppers and help grow my business!” Ulmer said. “I also love that the company shares my vision to protect pollinators and offer products with wholesome ingredients. I think we make a great team.”

Beyond capital for growth, Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loans come with a wealth of support from the company’s loan administrators, regional buyers and local foragers. The Whole Foods Market team often helps improve the business plan, shares market trends or connects recipients with new partners.

Similarly, Ulmer earned another investor and mentor in March from the television show “Shark Tank.” FUBU CEO and Shark investor Daymond John invested in BeeSweet Lemonade and gained a stake in the company. John’s partnership includes serving as a mentor to Ulmer and sharing business connections that could benefit the BeeSweet Lemonade brand.

“There is tremendous opportunity for Mikaila Ulmer and BeeSweet Lemonade, especially with partners like Whole Foods Market on her side,” John said. “I love to see young entrepreneurs create thriving businesses and am committed to helping her realize the potential for BeeSweet.”

Ulmer’s lemonade and social entrepreneurship caught the eye of Lynda Berrios, Whole Foods Market’s Texas local forager, in 2014, when Ulmer began partnering with the grocer by hosting pollinator events to educate shoppers on the importance of bees. Still a vital part of BeeSweet Lemonade’s mission, the company donates 10 percent of profits from sales to local and international organizations fighting to protect bees.

“We’ve loved sharing BeeSweet Lemonade’s products and mission with our guests,” Berrios said. “Whole Foods Market is thrilled to play a role in the growth and development of this amazing product through the Local Producer Loan Program. We can’t wait to see what Mikaila does next!”

To apply for a loan through Whole Foods Market’s Local Producer Loan Program, producers must meet Whole Foods Market’s strict Quality Standards, use the funds for expansion and have a viable business plan. Loans range from $1,000 to $100,000.

Whole Foods Market has pledged to grant up to $25 million in low-interest loans to small, local producers. To date, the program has funded more than $15 million for more than 200 suppliers. To learn more about the Local Producer Loan Program, visit


Whole Foods Market partners with Austin-based BeeSweet Lemonade as the newest recipient of its Local Producer Loan Program

Whole Foods Market partners with Austin-based BeeSweet Lemonade as the newest recipient of its Local Producer Loan Program