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Leveraging Shopify's Ecosystem to Make Entrepreneurship More Accessible Than Ever Before.

The Shopify Startup Success Program uses data-driven guidance to help new businesses overcome the barriers of entrepreneurship.


Making commerce better for everyone because you shouldn’t need a business degree to be successful.



The Kick-Off

Project Type:
24 hr Hackathon for Shopify x BrainStation

24 hrs


Figma, Photoshop


Desktop Website 

During my time at BrainStation, I participated in a 24-hour interdisciplinary hackathon hosted by Shopify and BrainStation.
Tasked with
creating a digital solution that makes entrepreneurship more accessible, I worked collaboratively with a team of UX designers, Web Developers and Data Scientists to create the Shopify Startup Success Program. My main contributions were conducting UX research, wireframing, prototyping with Figma and aligning UI with the existing Shopify Design System, Polaris.


We were awarded as a runner-up (Best on our stage)


UX Researcher, UX/UI Designer


'Fuelled By Coffee'

Team Member Profile Image



Data Science

Team Member Profile Image



UX Design

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Felipe Rezende

Web Dev

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UX Design

You're Here

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Web Dev

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Data Science

A talented group of individuals - Check them out too!

Modified Design Approach 

Our process was modified to suit a 24-hour timeframe. These are the steps that the UX team took to work within the allocated time, while frequently checking in with the Web Developers and Data Scientists to ensure synergy and a consistent focus on the users throughout.


Concept Sketching

Branding Constraints

Low & Mid-Fi Wireframes


Data Driven Guidance

Task Flow



Revised HMW


Project Brief 

Problem Space


Secondary Research

Modified Design Thinking Process



The Problem Space

With Shopify being one of the most popular eCommerce platforms on the planet with a 23% market share in the U.S. and more than 1.75 million merchants, Shopify asked us: How might we better leverage the Shopify Ecosystem to make entrepreneurship more accessible than ever before? Placing an emphasis on inclusivity and accessibility.


How might we leverage the Shopify Ecosystem to make entrepreneurship more accessible than ever before?

Photo of a person viewing the shopify website on a laptop


Narrowing Down the Problem

In order to narrow our focus on the problem space, we began by conducting a social listening exercise to see what merchants have to say on online social forums like Reddit and other online communities. We found an overwhelming amount of merchants using these online forums to ask other merchants about apps to use and suggestions for growing their business. 


By conducting a social listening exercise we were able to conclude that merchants are mostly in search of information and guidance.


Understanding the Problem

What factors make it difficult to learn entrepreneurship? The biggest issues surrounding new entrepreneurs are poor education systems, financial illiteracy and social exclusions. BIPOC entrepreneurs especially face barriers, lack of related education and the inability to qualify for loans. In fact, only 9% of all Entrepreneurs globally hold a Bachelor’s degree in Business. 


Why do most Shopify stores fail? Many of the new stores fail because of a lack of knowledge, merchants not understanding their niche, not having a well-defined strategy, and poor optimization of their Shopify theme.


Our research shows that Shopify gained 700,000 new businesses in 2021 alone.

But based on the current attrition rate for failed businesses, that means that from those 700,000 new merchants:

20% of Businesses will fail in year 1 
30% of Businesses will fail by year 2
50% of Businesses will fail by year 5

What does this mean for Shopify? Well if the attrition rate remains, there will be an estimate of $685,000,000 in loss of potential revenue over the next 5 years.


Loss of potential revenue over 5 years



Understanding the User

We created a Proto-Persona based on the insights obtained from our social listening exercise and secondary research. Doing this aligned our team to understand the challenges facing our new users. Keeping our Proto-Persona at the forefront in developing the best user-centred solution for Shopify Users.

Meet Ken.

He is 21 years old and wants to sell his own brand of shoes. He decides to use Shopify for his digital storefront. But he’s feeling a little lost and worried he isn’t going to get the results he wants without any guidance and feedback.

Image of the persona, Ken Rowland

Proto-Persona Ken Rowland


How might we empower new entrepreneurs through the Shopify ecosystem to understand business strategies in order to ensure long term success?



Data-Driven Guidance

We thought of the Shopify Affiliate Program and wondered if we could elevate the information available to guide new entrepreneurs through the steps of creating a successful business plan. After consulting with Data Scientists they helped us identify a data-driven guidance based on a step-by-step process we can provide to new users searching for help.


Leveraging the data and resources that Shopify already has to give guidance to new businesses with these 3 areas of opportunity. Pairing new sellers like ken to an experienced mentor, recommending apps used by others, and best practices.


Best Practices
Nudge new users to optimize their setup based on the best practices seen in the Shopify Community.


Recommend Apps specific to their industry, location and business goals.


Match new users with successful Shopify Entrepreneurs with a similar business profile.


Product Functionality

In creating our task flow we authored several user stories to identify what functionalities would be needed to successfully start a new store. Ultimately we chose to intervene during the onboarding process for new users such as Ken looking to start a business without prior experience. This was the perfect moment to intervene because we can increase new users'  knowledge early on and guide them to optimize their setup with the help of mentors.

Primary Task:
Set up a new Shopify store with guidance and help from mentors.

Task flow Diagram of finding a Mentor on Shopify

Primary Task Flow: Set up a new Shopify Store with Guidance and help from Mentors



Concept Sketches

With the time constraints, we wanted to explore different solutions as quickly as possible. So we conducted a Crazy-8 session and while our sketches are a bit messy they really helped us see what solutions we both envisioned for the final product. We also noticed a lot of similarities and combined the best features to help users like Ken.

Image of our exploratory sketches in a 'crazy 8's' session

Crazy 8s - Concept Sketches for Shopify Hackathon


Establishing Constraints 

When looking for inspiration and defining our branding constraints we were blessed to work with the already established and highly reputable design system, Polaris. With such an expansive design guide to work from, we ensured all aspects of our solution aligned with the existing Shopify brand. Using screenshots of current Shopify site pages to inspire our UI decisions.

Image showing an overview of the Shopify Style guide, polaris used

Overview of Polaris Assets used and inspiration


From Sketch to Screen

While we did consult with the rest of the team throughout the entire process, the web development team up until this point had only a brief overview into the digital solution we would be creating. They knew it would involve creating a dashboard with modals but that was about it…

So at this point, in order to express our solution visually, we needed to translate our sketches into Mid-Fi Wireframes to show our Web Development team the vision. Presenting this to the developers, they were able to understand the scope of the project and answered the question us UX Designers were scared to ask… Is this still possible?

Version 1 of Mid-Fi Wireframes to pitch to Web Devs


Refining our Prototype

Thankfully the answer was yes! Our talented developers began to work on creating the Dashboard while we finalized the design for the modals leading to our final Hi-Fi wireframes and the birth of the 'Shopify Startup Success Program'. At this point, we UX designers helped the developers through the night/morning with assets and words of motivation.

Version 2 of Wireframes - Finalizing the Design


The Shopify Success Program

The Shopify Startup Success Program uses data-driven guidance to help new businesses overcome the barriers of entrepreneurship.

Making commerce better for everyone because you shouldn’t need a business degree to be successful.



Key Learnings

The 24hrs felt like a Relay Race. I say that because we worked strategically. Leaning on our strengths and helping each other out in a great team effort. Working intentionally using agile practices to iterate, overlap tasks and adapt. It truly felt like we were handing the baton to one another as we made our way closer and closer to the finish line.


In a way, it not only felt like we were running the race but also cheering along the sidelines. We were motivating each other when we felt overwhelmed and helped each other whenever possible. I’m so thankful to my team.


Gif of man proudly clapping and smiling

Looking back on the experience, there were so many valuable lessons learned within the 24hr timeframe. I learned new concepts from my peers and their disciplines. Which gave me a new perspective and respect for their talents and skills. 


While we didn’t win first place, the experience alone was a highlight of my time at BrainStation. This was my first time participating in a hackathon and it definitely won’t be the last!


Me being proud of our team.

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