Go, Go, Gadget: Former Shopify Employees’ New Company Secures $ 8.5 Million VC Investment

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Inspired by the rapid growth of their old workplace, former Shopify employees Harry Brundage and Mohammed Hashemi set out a few years ago to build their own businesses that beat the world.

They didn’t realize then that one of their biggest sources of frustration would lead to their biggest entrepreneurial breakthrough.

Gadget – the startup they launched 18 months ago to solve an issue that has caused countless headaches for app developers – has closed an $ 8.5 million corporate-led fundraiser. American venture capitalists Sequoia Capital and Bessemer Venture Partners.

A host of other top investors, including Shopify’s head of data science and engineering, Solmaz Shahalizadeh, and the company’s director of product acceleration, Anna Lambert, have also joined. team.

Brundage says it’s an encouraging sign as he and Hashemi strive to be at the forefront of a new generation of Ottawa-made tech titans led by what he calls the ‘Shopify Mafia’ – ex-employees of the e-commerce darling who are hatching a new generation of successful software companies, in much the same way Nortel alumni spearheaded the capital’s computer hardware boom a year ago two decades.

“I really want to see the Canadian tech ecosystem flourish. I hope this is the start of a lot (more) of these companies.”

“I really want to see the Canadian tech ecosystem flourish,” he says. “I hope this is the start of a lot (more) of these endeavors.”

Gadget aims to simplify app development by providing programmers with a software stack that includes features like out-of-the-box search widgets and tools for apps to communicate with each other.

The platform is designed to take the tedious work out of the app building process, freeing up coding assistants to do what they do best: create the unique programs that form the basis of apps.

Brundage and Hashemi – the former Director of Product Management at Shopify who helped develop tools like Shopify Pay – came up with the idea after working on a number of projects, including quality assurance software for Shopify merchants.

They quickly realized that they were spending a demoralizing amount of time and energy on mundane tasks such as setting up a content management infrastructure – “technical gibberish” as Brundage calls it – instead of creating something new.

Big time saver

“We had gone through this cycle many times… and recognized that we were doing the same thing over and over again (it was) done thousands of times,” says Brundage, who spent more than six years as a developer and engineer at Shopify before you go. company in 2017. “You shouldn’t have to do all of this over and over again. “

The 12-person startup is still in the pre-income stage as the platform undergoes beta testing. Initially, it’s aimed at Shopify merchants and other ecommerce developers who want to quickly and effortlessly add things like markup features that streamline product searches.

Brundage says Gadget’s offering has the potential to cut the time it typically takes to build key parts of a new ecommerce application from weeks to just hours. Investors buy, saying they see a huge benefit in the company’s potential to “supercharge” the app building process.

“Gadget’s platform delivers on its promise to help e-commerce developers create scalable software, incredibly quickly,” said Mike Vernal, partner at Sequoia, in a statement. “We’re excited to see the team bring this vision to Shopify app developers and beyond. “

Bessemer partner Jeremy Levine, whose company was also an early investor in Shopify, agrees the technology could be a game-changer for the app development industry, saying it paves the way for productivity “Significantly improved”.

With millions of dollars in funding now in their back pocket, Team Gadget is preparing to seize this market opportunity. Brundage says he expects the company’s workforce to triple by the end of next year, as it seeks to “build like demons” to flesh out the product.

“All the vertical software developers are tackling each other right now, we want to be a part of it,” he says, adding that he doesn’t lose sleep over competing with the tech greats of Ottawa, including his former store, for skilled software talent.

‘Fun Rubik’s Cube’

“It’s a problem for developers,” Brundage says of creating Gadget’s solutions. “This is the most fun Rubik’s Cube to play with. “

While her former employer now calls her home base “Internet, Anywhere” and firmly adheres to the philosophy of remote working, Brundage and his team are taking a more old-fashioned approach as they prepare to relocate to an office. new office in Chinatown. early next year.

“It’s so nice to be able to bring everyone together in a room and understand something very quickly around a whiteboard,” he explains. “We just think this product is difficult to build and most features will require a lot of collaboration. “

At Shopify, Brundage and Hashemi had a front row seat to observe how a global software colossus is being built. Armed with this intelligence, they are ready to embark on what they hope will be another successful software scale-up project in Ottawa.

And like their former boss, Shopify co-founder and CEO Tobi Lütke, Gadget executives aren’t afraid to think big.

“We have seen the incredible journey that Tobi and Co. has taken, and we want to do it again in our own way,” said Brundage. “I would love to talk about an IPO again in 10 years, but we have a lot to prove ourselves and a lot of roadblocks before it’s in anyone’s mind.

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