A $50,000 Benevolent Bribe: Is Today The Day You Finally Build Your Business?


Two years ago, Patrick Buckley and Craig Dalton had an idea–an iPad case made using traditional bookbinding. Today, DODOcase is a multi-million dollar business that’s been featured in The New York Times and beyond. They have more than 20 employees, and customers all over the world, including President Barack Obama.

Is that a freaking DODOCase in the Oval Office? Of course it is.

Their rocket-like trajectory started with the 2010 Shopify Build-A-Business Competition. They were the grand-prize winners, but they weren’t the only success story. The stats:

Revenue PER HOUR for the duration of the contest: $696.38
Total number of orders placed: 66,503
Most important — Total businesses created: nearly 1,400

In the subsequent 2011 Shopify competition, more than 3,000 new businesses were launched, generating more than $12,000,000 in revenue. Dave Jackson and Dave Petrillo used Kickstarter to fund their product and went on to win big. Now they’re bringing Coffee Joulies to the mass market on a global scale.

I’ve been involved with the Shopify competition since it was a brainstorm with Tobi, their CEO. Now, it’s your turn to jump in the fray…

This year, I’m joined by three exceptional mentors: Eric Ries (The Lean Startup), Daymond John (FUBU, Shark Tank), and Tina Roth Eisenberg (swissmiss). The education will be better, the community will be bigger, the prizes will be cooler, and the support will be unequaled.

What I said back in 2010 is still true today:

“This competition is intended as a benevolent and encouraging kick in the ass. This stuff isn’t rocket science, but it does require stepping outside your comfort zone for a bit to realize: this isn’t that hard. It’s just unfamiliar. If you do it now, a lot of people will be in the same boat and you’ll take the trip together.”

By turning your idea (that one you’ve reserved for “someday”) into reality, you could win:

- A VIP trip to New York City for a day of meetings with all the mentors
– $20,000 in Google AdWords credit
– A feature on the Fast Company website
– A $50,000 investment in your company from Tim Ferriss, Eric Ries, Daymond John or Tina Roth Eisenberg

If you prefer to take Benjamins and don’t want the involvement from us, that’s cool, too. We’ll give you $50,000 cash. No strings attached, no sweat.

And… even if you don’t win the grand prize:

- You still receive a free .CO domain for 12 months, $100 in Google AdWords Credits, and $100 in MailChimp Credits, just for entering the competition.
– You could end up with the greatest gift of all: a profitable business that becomes your muse.

The latter is the whole point.

Ready to join the ranks, shed a little blood with your brethren (mere papercuts, guys), and fundamentally change your life forever?

If not now, when?

Go here. Get excited. Pull the trigger.


Related and Suggested:

Looking for business ideas? Browse some of the detailed case studies in the “Engineering the Muse” posts, digest 17 lessons from six-figure business started for $100 or less, or take a peek at successful examples on Shopify.

Perhaps most helpful of all, here are two posts on lessons learned from past winners: do’s and don’ts from 2010 and 2011.


Odds and Ends:

Wow. Thank you to everyone who shared their personal career struggles and aspirations around risk. Ben Casnocha and Reid Hoffman selected three finalists from over 500 comments — Samuel P.N. Cook, Dennis Keochane, and Cheryl Obermiller — and they’d like to ask YOU to vote on who should win mentorship for their next career move.

Although they sadly cannot offer direct mentorship to everyone, they can offer the next best thing — the mentorship of their network! Repost your story of risk or other thoughts on career strategy as a new discussion in their LinkedIn Group. Their online network has more than 2,000 career experts who are committed to investing in themselves and helping others.

Posted on: July 10, 2012.

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Comment Rules: Remember what Fonzie was like? Cool. That’s how we’re gonna be — cool. Critical is fine, but if you’re rude, we’ll delete your stuff. Please do not put your URL in the comment text and please use your PERSONAL name or initials and not your business name, as the latter comes off like spam. Have fun and thanks for adding to the conversation! (Thanks to Brian Oberkirch for the inspiration)

161 comments on “A $50,000 Benevolent Bribe: Is Today The Day You Finally Build Your Business?

  1. The Shopify contest couldn’t have arrived at a better time. Of all the projects I’ve been working on since the last competition, I finally believe I have THE one that will clinch this year’s event.


  2. Enrique,

    For one I’d say having a Shopify store vs a regular site with a Paypal button will go a long way to getting your customers to trust you, but if they love the product even a Paypal button should do the trick.

    I think what you will struggle with is the competition for tea sales. I drink a ton of tea, and I know a lot about tea having worked in that industry before. When I get tea these days, if it isn’t from a local store where I know the owners then I usually end up at places like Teavana where they have a good selection with good prices. Unless your tea or tea brand has something special going for it then I likely wouldn’t buy from you.

    A great example of a new tea brand that did an amazing job with style and marketing is http://www.luhsetea.com/ they also happen to be a shopify store. I purchased my last tea shipment from them since I loved the site and the owners are very likable real people on a mission I agree with.

    I hope that advice helps and you get that sencha out the door, I love my Japanese greens :)


    • my thoughts of tea here in México is that is a rather new market, sure there are a few Teavanas here in Mexico City but, outside the country’s capital i dont think there is much going on aside from the local organics shops that mostly carry teabags of not a great quality.

      I just thought it was gonna be really easy, but apparently i actually have to do the work, and even thoug i love tea (sencha and rooibos my faves) im not really sure i wanna devote a lot of time selling that,

      As i read in James Altucher blog: there are no shortcuts, which means i have to actually find a great product that sells itself cause its really wanted.

      thanks for the answering!


      • I think luhsetea is a great example of selling a story, not just a product. If you’re selling tea, you’re competing with literally thousands of others. If you craft a unique story for your product, you aren’t really competing with the thousands anymore.


  3. Tim, is the Shopify contest open for non-US citizens this time? Hope you haven’t forgotten all your fans from Europe.

    I really like the Shopify contests and the first contest was the trigger for me to build my first 4HWW muse. Thanks a lot for that! However it’s always very disappointing when you announce a Shopify contest and half of your fans can’t join. Hope this has changed this year.


    • Mike from Shopify – Sorry Sterntaufe, but the competition is limited to the US (excluding some states), the UK, Australia and New Zealand (plus Canadians in a separate competition). We’d love to include Europeans, but laws are different in every country (and sometimes in every state/province) so it makes it really difficult and time consuming for each country we add. You will still be able to participate in everything else, plus we’ll be giving away smaller prizes and those will be open to everyone.


  4. Tim, do you have any post or tips on how to create an electronic gadget ( for the macbook ) without being an engenner or electrician ?

    I think i got a milion dollar idea, but i dont know how to execute it, there are many things involved:

    patent problems
    and the technical stuff of creating it.

    Any tips ?

    Thanx !


  5. Hi Tim,

    I am entering the competition and I am hoping that I get to be in your “electronics and gadgets” mentor category as my product is very much about lifestyle design. I have invented a portable whiteboard (resembles and artist’s portfolio case) and believe it can be seen as a non-electronic gadget. I couldn’t find the “definitions for the categories” after seeing the rules and faqs. Please advise.



    • I never liked stories because it is a bait and switch. “I’m making you warm and fuzzy. You can get more of that emotion if you buy this thing which is crap” We have to admit that stories are used heavily when the product sucks. If you are a big corporation you can do that and still get away with it.(which I still don’t recommend) If you are a start up, it’s going to kill your business.

      Stories will only work if it is 100% genuine, 100% truth and the product is 100% awesome. Imagine if you found out that Tim Ferriss was only 75% genuine and his products(recommendations, advice and etc) was only 75% good.(true, effective and so on.) Rest of it, pure baloney, crap. Would you do business with Tim Ferriss? No. At least not until you can figure which part is baloney and which part is actually good.

      Business abused the heck of stories, and I think it breed a generation of cynical customers.


  6. Enrique,

    Yes a story really helps. For you maybe just highlighting that you are a company based in Mexico for Mexican customers, so they might prefer to buy from you rather than a US tea company. But anyway this is sort of off topic here. Good luck.


  7. Hacking the Competition.
    Forget about the Prize. There is only one( or a few) winner and there is a 99.5% percent chance that it will not be you. Forget about the hype, mentors and other shiny objects which isn’t going to help you. The competition is uneven because there is no way to insure that everyone is indeed starting from ground zero. If you’re completely new, forget about winning. I doubt that you will win the competition without enough critical thinking abilities to figure this out.

    So, it comes down to the real question, “can you create something with the free .co domain, the adwords credits, mail chimp credits and $30 Dollars a month of your own money”? (Note. Mail chimp has a useful free service too, and the $100 adwords credit goes fast)
    If you say yes to that, you should be in this competition. Manage expectations and know what you are getting into.

    That being said, I wish the best of the luck to anyone starting their own business.

    P.S Please do not SPAM people. The free mail chimp credits indicates that email capturing, campaigning, and such is encouraged. However, the majority of the world’s population doesn’t want to hear from you. Overall, it’s a better business decision to cultivate people who do want to hear about your business anyway.


  8. I would like to mention that Stanford University youtube channel has some good videos for starting up businesses. I especially like the ones by Steve Blank. But there are others on why you get funded, and so on. I wasn’t smart enough to go to stanford but it’s good that I can see some of the lectures. It should help you even outside of this competition as well.


    • nvm…read all the other comments about legal reasons…I would also love to find out what laws are stopping residents here from participating. If I can find out then maybe I can get some of my friends to take some actions on this.


      • Marshall – Here’s what our lawyer got back to us with: “Louisiana is excluded because it is an “any chance” state. Any chance means that if any chance is present in the contest, then the program becomes an illegal lottery. There are only a handful of any chance states. Virtually every contest has some element of chance and a strict application of the test could result in most any games of skill not surviving scrutiny. Every pay to play fantasy sports game in the U.S. excludes Louisiana.”

        Hope that helps.


  9. Oh boy! The coolest most 4-hour-work-week idea ever, but not allowed to join from Belgium :( can you try to squeeze us in next time?


  10. So, Tim, any word on why your email states that you can’t be compelled to take an investment, yet the official rules say that you can? It’s not exactly a minor detail.


    • Mike from Shopify – There is some legalese around the option to take the cash vs. the investment that does allow Shopify to make the final decision. That being said, I can guarantee you that neither Shopify or any of the mentors have any interest in forcing an investment.


  11. Hello,

    I would love to participate in this competition. Anyone here want to meet for a brainstorming session in Los Angeles? My background is in mechanical engineering/business.


  12. Dear Mike From Shopify,

    Ah, that pesky, binding legalese. Sure, I’ll sign a contract which gives Shopify the legal right to 5% of my business for $50,000, as long as “Mike From Shopify” assures me on a blog that no one is going to enforce their legal right to do so. Because that’s how things work.

    There are going to be many people joining this contest who have no business experience whatsoever, and making claims that

    “We’re not going to force you into anything. Winners may opt to take a $50,000 cash prize instead of the investment. You’ll still travel to New York and meet all the mentors and receive the other parts of the prize.” [from the Shopify website]


    “If you prefer to take Benjamins and don’t want the involvement from us, that’s cool, too. We’ll give you $50,000 cash. No strings attached, no sweat.” [from Tim's email]

    while reserving the right to do the exact opposite in a binding contract is dishonest. I was considering using Shopify because the app looks awesome, but I wouldn’t want to give money to such a sneaky entity.

    Ferriss, you’re losing major credibility here.

    “There is some legalese around the option to take the cash vs. the investment that does allow Shopify to make the final decision. That being said, I can guarantee you that neither Shopify or any of the mentors have any interest in forcing an investment.”

    If that’s true, then take it out.

    Caveat emptor!


    • Thank you Mel issa for going over the official rules for us and pointing out something that really needs to be understood before entering the contest. You are one of very few readers using critical thinking which in turn helps others
      I believe the 5% equity investment should have been publicized more when the contest was launched. It is an issue of transparency and even though it is stated in the official rules, there should have been more effort to actively let participants know. Also the investment for 5% ownership isn’t necessarily a negative.(A million dollar evaluation for your shopify business). It could be a huge postive. However, I think people have more expectations of Tim Ferriss to be forthcoming and tell his readers what’s what. The omission of 5% ownership in the video and in the blog post was a big mistake, even though it is clearly said “50,000 INVESTMENT”. He made a mistake which could have been easily avoided and it’s going to cost him in trust/credibility.

      We also have to realize that contests are rarely held for the benefit of the participants, but for the benefit of the people who organize the contest. This is usually unavoidable, and somewhat natural phenomenon.

      With all that being said, should you enter the contest? As long as you understand all the fine print and the out of pocket expenses, sure go for it. Again the probrability of winning the contest is almost zero. Even if you do win,(congrats to the one that does, you earned it) I don’t think a 5% ownership is a real problem. It could generate some headaches if you and your investors are against each other. Even if somehow the investors take over your business in true hollywood fashion, you’ll still get compensated handsomely. But that’s expected from any start up isn’t it?

      Thank you, Melissa once again.


    • Mel – You make a good point and transparency is really important to us. The rules were written by legal minds greater than mine. As I mentioned, we and our mentors have no interest in forcing an investment, so I’m going back to our lawyers to see what we can do about this. I’ll post back here with more information when I have it.


      • Impressive. I haven’t confirmed this for myself yet, but if what you say is true, I will not only become a customer at some point, but I will tell others about your conscientiousness. THIS is the way to build brand loyalty.


  13. Actually yes you should forget about winning the contest and just think of it as a bonus if your idea happens to kick ass. The odds are actually pretty decent as even if you don’t get #1 I think there are at least 5 prizes and how many companies actually enter this? I bet less than 1k since they have to be new and that is regulated.

    On a side note one thing I find frustrating on the blog is people asking for advice or what not that is off topic. Please keep your responses directly related to the blog subject so we have more good content and less filler.


  14. Tim,

    Is it appropriate to market a book, (both ebook and paperback) in this contest? I want to market/sell my uncle’s memior. (About his life as an activist minister, and being the son of Armenian genocide survivors.) Is this a good fit?


    John R.


  15. Hi Tim,

    First of all, thanks for all of the knowledge, motivation, and support you’ve shared with like-minded dreamers & doers. I’ve been a quiet but dedicated follower of yours ever since the Four Hour Work Week planted the seed of possibility in my head. I wanted to share a story of mine that feels especially relevant to this post:

    Three years ago, days after my college graduation, my friends and I took a celebratory roadtrip through the U.S. before all going our separate ways. At the end of the trip when the car dropped me off at my parents’ house, I ran inside to grab the Four Hour Work Week. Just before driving away, my friend Michael rolled down his window and I passed it to him: “As my graduation present, I want you to read this.” I had been bugging Michael to do so for two years, yet he remained skeptical about the possibilities of pursuing your unique style of entrepreneurial fulfillment. As a result, I was forced to use this Hollywood approach to guilt him into giving your book a chance.

    A month later, I was in Zurich at my internship and Michael was in Boston working at a desk job that he hated. The brutal abruptness of completing college and landing just weeks later at a desk in new foreign cities had caught up to us both. I knew not one person in Zurich, Michael had one friend in Boston, and somehow the air had been rapidly sucked out of life. We know that everyone can go through a rough transition after leaving the comfort of school, but for some reason, the 9-to-5 cave into which we both had landed felt especially cavernous.

    One day, Michael sent a chat from Boston exclaiming, “We have to do something to change this crappy situation,” to which I replied, “Ah ha. You’ve finished the book.” That was the real moment where we made a conscious decision to take control and start our own business. Working from opposite sides of the Atlantic, we collaborated daily to bring to life a product design idea I had years back. It was the perfect antipode to the isolation and helplessness we felt at work. We put the idea into production, and that Christmas we sold out of our first production run after just two months on the market. Since then, that product has made it into the homes of over 15,000 people and we’re running our small business full-time. As homage to the principles of the 4HWW, we’ve also made sure to ski 70+ days a year and surf every morning that there are rideable waves.

    Four days ago, we launched a new project on Kickstarter: Sunski Sunglasses. The hope was to raise enough money over the course of a month to meet MOQ requirements that would allow us to put these incredible vintage shades from Australia back into production. On Monday, we set our campaign goal at $9,800. On Wednesday, we met our goal. On Friday (today), we crossed the $12,000 threshold with the help of over 270 people and counting. For a project with such small requirements, we are just humbled by these numbers. Better yet, we have 23 days left to amplify a campaign we thought could be a fight to the finish line.

    Because this latest product isn’t in stock now, I don’t think we can open a Shopify store and participate in this year’s competition. But no matter, the contest alone has already been a source of great inspiration. The serendipity of our Kickstarter success coupled with the timing of this post is fueling a great sense of urgency and optimism that has me excited to wake up every day and continue pushing my limits.

    I’ve been waiting for a reason to tell you my story, and today feels like the right day to do it. I hope you get a chance to read it. I know its so long, but damn the torpedoes. Thanks again for sharing your wealth of knowledge with us. Cheesiness notwithstanding, handing the Four Hour Work Week to Michael that day has changed the course of our professional lives in incredible ways.

    Best of luck with the competition,


    • Tom,
      Thanks for sharing your story, it’s stories like these that keep me motivated to find my own path too.
      Mind telling me what your product is all about? Don’t hesitate to contact me via e-mail. (beni (dot) berger (at) ggs (dot) ch)



  16. Just wanted to say I just finished the “Four Hour Work Week” great read and very informative. I just spend several hours reading your blog and just wanted to say, Thank you for sharing so much with so many and you truly do make a difference in so many lives. Thank you Tim Ferriss for a job well done. Mary


  17. I can’t win the contest, but I entered anyway. Sourcing my suppliers now. But I had one question, Tim I can’t win the grand prize since I live in AZ. But I wanted to see if you would be willing to meet with me for lunch if I out perform the other competitors. I’ll pay my own way to fly to your city and all it would be is a lunch where I can pick your brain. meeting you and the other mentors was the real prize to me anyway.


  18. Tim, I would like to know if Shopify would be the best outlet for setting up a marketplace like Airbnb where I have a database and people can search for what they are looking for in certain cities place an order and then book it. Is it only for one time transactions or is there an option to where I can have a system in place to where I can have the transactions actually tracked? I am a bit caveat to enter because I’m not sure what I want to do is ideal with Shopify.


    • Jeremy – Something like Airbnb might be a little complex and not really what Shopify is built for “out of the box”. It might be something you could do with some custom coding. If you called or emailed our Sales Team, they could walk through the functionality you require and let you know if Shopify is the right solution.


  19. Thank you for all you have worked towards in the last decade. You are a global inspiration. I enjoy the diverse groups of people that have been awakened to the fact that they are not meant to be a slave to work. I remember reading your work for the first time years ago and feeling a huge weight lifted from my soul at the possibilities that you presented. You have played your part in shifting the consciousness towards freedom for the masses. Thank you.


  20. Tim
    I got your book I THInk is great but What about atkins bar? I love chocolate, I know is not part of the diet, but before my period I am crazy for chocolate
    Comments will be appreaciate


  21. I wouldn’t be able to enter the contest, as I’m not in the U.S, but I’d love to try an online store. I have been searching for a low cost muse idea for what seems like forever. The trouble is I just can’t think of anything to sell. I’ve been on keywords checkers and read tips on Shopify, still no ideas (or at least none that seem viable).

    I wouldn’t have the funds/ideas to create/develop a product, so it would definitely have to be in a niche. I was thinking maybe something like personalized products/gifts or some sort, as they could be made by the artist and not held in stock? Would anyone be at all willing to offer any tips or advice on whether that sort of idea may or may not be viable?

    Or offer any guidance on how to figure out what is or isn’t a good idea?

    Thanks so much in advance.


  22. Hi Tim!

    This blog post update came in my inbox last week like a sign from the universe defibrillating me back to life.

    I discovered “the alternative way of life” when I took a 7 month soul searching journey of lifetime to Costa Rica before going to college. I’ve never been able to look at work or the world the same knowing full well that people around the world have already opted out of the robotic, uninspiring 9-5 way of life. I’m currently interning in NYC from Chicago and while I am learning immensely, what is simultaneously becoming immensely clear is that “work for work” is innately unacceptable at my core and while I am running around looking busy, there are so many meaningful things I could be doing instead. (Like planning a return to Costa Rica)

    I was pushing paper around and about to bang my head against an office wall as I was brainstorming “my escape.” Then came your blog update in my inbox…

    I have a few questions before I dive in.

    1. Do people who enter the competition need to already have a prototype to enter? What about an existing business model? Or do we just need an idea?

    2. I am in media & advertising and I know absolutely nothing about manufacturing/distribution and wholesale. Your links to finding manufacturers were extremely helpful, but do you have suggested resources for how ordering and contracting manufacturers works? Is it really as easy as calling them and telling them what you are trying to create? (Assume I know as much as an ant on this topic)

    Also, I am a penniless intern & I have read muse owners recommendations on your blog to contract foreign manufacturers in China and to meet them in person – do you have suggestions for how to leverage this cost without risking homelessness in NYC? ;)

    3. Do competition participants need to take these initial steps first (create a business model, contact manufacturers, produce prototype, etc) before entering the competition?

    I hope you can help me out with the answers! Thanks so much for posting and inspiring, Tim!

    Pura Vida,



    • Mike from Shopify – I thought I would answer your questions about the competition.

      1. You don’t need to have a product yet. You get a 30-day free trial of Shopify and you will be able to participate in all the educational materials at that point. We determine the winner based on their best 2 calendar months between August and next February, so you need to get in 2 good months to have a chance.

      3. As a say it’s up to you. You could join while you’re still figuring this stuff out, or wait until you’re ready to launch your site.


  23. Mike F,

    Thanks for letting me know that books (“both electronic and ‘real’ books”) are OK for the contest are already being sold on Shopify. I am signing up tomorrow night!


    John R.


  24. Awesome stuff, Tim, love this contest!!! I need to start mind mapping some form of equipment…. I’m such a bodyweight / train anywhere / the world is your gym kinda guy, I need to wrap my brain around something!


  25. Hi Tim,

    This is unrelated to the above post, but I really wanted to share it with you and the readers of your blog. Sorry to be a pain.

    I thought that you would be interested in reading a translation of Leonardo da Vinci´s letter to the Duke of Milan as it is an excellent example of self-promotion. Also, Michael Gelb´s ‘Work Like da Vinci’ might be of interest to you as he discusses memory, creativity and da Vinci´s impressive physical strength. I recommend the audiobook.

    Anyway, here´s the letter…………………………………………………………………….

    Letter from Leonardo Da Vinci
    to the Duke of Milan Applying for a Position

    Having, most illustrious lord, seen and considered the experiments of all those who pose as masters in the art of inventing instruments of war, and finding that their inventions differ in no way from those in common use, I am emboldened, without prejudice to anyone, to solicit an appointment of acquainting your Excellency with certain of my secrets.

    1. I can construct bridges which are very light and strong and very portable, with which to pursue and defeat the enemy; and others more solid, which resist fire or assault, yet are easily removed and placed in position; and I can also burn and destroy those of the enemy.

    2. In case of a siege I can cut off water from the trenches and make pontoons and scaling ladders and other similar contrivances.

    3. If by reason of the elevation or the strength of its position a place cannot be bombarded, I can demolish every fortress if its foundations have not been set on stone.

    4. I can also make a kind of cannon which is light and easy of transport, with which to hurl small stones like hail, and of which the smoke causes great terror to the enemy, so that they suffer heavy loss and confusion.

    5. I can noiselessly construct to any prescribed point subterranean passages either straight or winding, passing if necessary underneath trenches or a river.

    6. I can make armoured wagons carrying artillery, which shall break through the most serried ranks of the enemy, and so open a safe passage for his infantry.

    7. If occasion should arise, I can construct cannon and mortars and light ordnance in shape both ornamental and useful and different from those in common use.

    8. When it is impossible to use cannon I can supply in their stead catapults, mangonels, trabocchi, and other instruments of admirable efficiency not in general use—I short, as the occasion requires I can supply infinite means of attack and defense.

    9. And if the fight should take place upon the sea I can construct many engines most suitable either for attack or defense and ships which can resist the fire of the heaviest cannon, and powders or weapons.

    10. In time of peace, I believe that I can give you as complete satisfaction as anyone else in the construction of buildings both public and private, and in conducting water from one place to another.

    I can further execute sculpture in marble, bronze or clay, also in painting I can do as much as anyone else, whoever he may be.

    Moreover, I would undertake the commission of the bronze horse, which shall endue with immortal glory and eternal honour the auspicious memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza.—

    And if any of the aforesaid things should seem to anyone impossible or impracticable, I offer myself as ready to make trial of them in your park or in whatever place shall please your Excellency, to whom I commend myself with all possible humility.

    Leonardo Da Vinci

    PS Have you found a book with a collection of incredible emails and letters yet (you mentioned this in one of your interviews)? I´m working on a collection, which I want to publish. This will be a part of it.

    PPS Apologies if this is old news to you. I hope that the community finds this valuable in some way.


  26. On my Shopify store I use a combination of Stripe which replaced my merchant account for less money and less headaches, yet it processes all major cards without any ugly system that might turn off the customer like Paypal. I still use Paypal as well because if you don’t many international sales simply won’t happen. Paypal works very well despite their occasional evilness. When there is a good alternative I’ll switch.

    BTW for those that don’t like Shopify’s processing fees that would stack with your other fees from Paypal Merch accts etc., keep in mind some of the plans don’t have a percentage if you pay up front. I like Shopify so much I paid up front for 2 years and now I save a ton by not dealing with those fees.


  27. Hey Tim,

    My idea is for a new social media type site. Can I still submit for this contest? My website idea does not need a sore for products. I just need funding for website building. The idea would generate money via advertising eventually.



  28. Just fired from a horrible job which I hated today. Kinda scary but looking forward to a new challenge so maybe this is good news..

    Been a fan of 4HWW since it first came out. I have Both editions and have read it many times. Tim ur awesome! Everything in 4HWW rings true still for me. I;ve had many muse ideas but haven’t followed through.

    I have my best muse now and have no excuses. Dont know where the money to start will come from but Im jumping in!



  29. Tim,

    I’ve decided to pull the trigger and enrolled in the competition. After looking at all of the moving parts involved, I’ve also realized it’s a good idea for me NOT to do this alone. I do better with my own goals and projects when I’m helping others with theirs. Thus my desire to put together a “Buried Life” team of sorts in relation to the Shopify competition.

    Do you (or anyone else on this thread) know if there any forums I can go to and put together an in-person support group within Southern California? A meetup to exchange ideas, answer each other’s questions, and just collaborate so the myriad of details don’t overwhelm one into paralysis-by-analysis?

    Thank you kindly,


    P.S. There may be objections, such as why would we collaborate with our competitors? This may be true, but even if we are competing within the same category and for the same mentor, as you’ve mentioned Tim, the ultimate prize is a business/muse, and collaboration can potentially lead faster to a niche product and thus a niche demographic. Those are my thoughts.


  30. I left the wrong email address before! =( If you see my other comment, the website is right but the addy was wrong. Sorry about that!


  31. Hi Tim

    Thanks for such an awesome opportunity. It will be great to participate with like-minded individuals with a common goal and well-defined deadlines. As with forex trading, which is what I do, the value of access to experienced mentors who have been there and succeeded is invaluable.

    Cheers Rachel


  32. I am in the process of building my first ecommerce store on Shopify. I don’t think that It will win any contests though. I just stumbled onto this site by accident. It’s an interesting site. I like it. keep up the good work.


  33. Hi To whom it may concern,

    The 2012 Build-a-business competition is over, I would like to attend the next competition or get help from mentors if possible, when and where can I find such detailed information for competition or mentorship for 2013?

    Thanks a lot!


  34. I am working in a reputed software giant in California, US. I am now looking for the automation step – start business. I have considered quite a few options and narrowed down on the idea that looks promising.
    Mostly looking to start as part-time business or part-time self-employed
    But I am on L1 visa. Unfortunately, on L1, I don’t have much choice.

    I am in touch with some immigration attorneys, but almost everyone blindly responds with a nothing is possible kind-a response.
    I am looking at what is legally allowed for someone with L-1 visa, and what are the options that I can take, like applying for some special permissions from any labor or immigration departments?
    I can either be self-employed or start a small business. I know I can patent an innovation, but I am not sure if I can license or sell for profit, or if I can invest in a startup.