The Shopify Mafia is the collective term for several former Shopify employees who have founded startups of their own. Similar to the PayPal Mafia who went before them, these individuals have become well-known and sometimes influential in their respective industries.
The Shopify Mafia was likely born out of a tendency for the company to encourage its employees to open their own stores. Here, the idea is that employees who have first-hand experience with running a business are better able to serve Shopify’s entrepreneurial customer base.
Many of these employees simply became so enamored with entrepreneurship that they decided to quit the company to focus on their businesses full time.
Brittany Forsyth and Arati Sharma
Brittany Forsyth is a former Spotify chief product officer who is now a founding partner of investment company Backbone Angels. She co-founded the company with Arati Sharma, a former head of product marketing for Shopify. Some of their notable investments include collaboration platform Wethos and dating app Snack.
Backbone Angels promotes itself as a collective of angel investors who invest in women-led startups in industries that are traditionally overlooked. Since March 2021, Forsyth and Sharma have overseen the deployment of $2.3 million to over 42 companies.
Michael Perry and Mike Taylor
Michael Perry and Mike Taylor joined Shopify after it acquired their startup, Kit, in 2016. Four years later, the pair left the company to start work on Maple.
In the future, Perry and Taylor are aiming to grow Maple’s partner ecosystem to feature products and services from various related brands. Two brands the company has already partnered with include pajama company Pika Layers and baby food brand Yumi.
Together with husband Tomas Ronis, Erin Chan founded Rhenti in 2017. Rhenti is a platform that connects property owners and renters via leasing software and marketing automation. Chan worked as a senior product manager for Shopify, joining the company in 2018 and working on Rhenti as a side hustle for around two years.
In an interview with Business Insider, Chan admitted that her experience at Shopify helped prepare her for the rigors of building a company from the ground up: “They think about product discipline more there than any company I’ve worked with before. It was never lined out for you perfectly. They kind of just forced you to really think about what you were building and who you were building for, and quite intensely.”
After experiencing difficulty planning her father’s funeral, Effie Anolik started the end-of-life services startup Afterword in 2018. Anolik spent over four years at Shopify in a variety of internal and customer-facing roles before leaving to start her own company and follow the family tradition of entrepreneurship.
Today, Afterword provides grief and planning support and was also instrumental in helping families live stream memorial services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The Shopify Mafia is the collective term for several former Shopify employees who have founded startups of their own. Similar to the PayPal Mafia, these individuals have become well-known and sometimes influential in their respective industries.
- Brittany Forsyth and Arati Sharma founded women-centric startup investment firm Backbone Angels, while Michael Perry and Mike Taylor quit Shopify in 2020 to start their own parenting and household management platform.
- Former Shopify senior product manager Erin Chan created a platform to connect renters with landlords, later admitting that the product-focused nature of her former role served as ideal preparation for starting her own business.