Shopify: Tobias Lütke In 2004, German programmer Tobias Lütke was living in Ottawa with his girlfriend. An avid snowboarder, he wanted to launch an online snowboard shop, but found the e-commerce software available at the time to be clunky and expensive. So he decided to write his own e-commerce software. After he launched his online snowboard business, called Snowdevil, other online merchants were so impressed with what he built that they started asking to license Tobi's software to run their own stores. Tobi and his co-founder realized that software had more potential than snowboards, so they launched the e-commerce platform Shopify in 2006. Since then, it has grown into a publicly-traded company with over 4,000 employees and $1 billion in revenue. PLUS in our postscript "How You Built That," after Barb Heilman invented a device that easily releases child car seat buckles, she started a business with her daughter Becca Davison called Unbuckle Me.
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Shopify: Tobias Lütke

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Shopify: Tobias Lütke

Shopify: Tobias Lütke

Shopify: Tobias Lütke

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Suzanne Dias for NPR
Tobias Lütke is the co-founder of Shopify.
Suzanne Dias for NPR

In 2004, German programmer Tobias Lütke was living in Ottawa with his girlfriend.

An avid snowboarder, he wanted to launch an online snowboard shop, but found the e-commerce software available at the time to be clunky and expensive.

So he decided to write his own e-commerce software.

After he launched his online snowboard business, called Snowdevil, other online merchants were so impressed with what he built that they started asking to license Tobi's software to run their own stores.

Tobi and his co-founder realized that software had more potential than snowboards, so they launched the e-commerce platform Shopify in 2006.

Since then, it has grown into a publicly-traded company with over 4,000 employees and $1 billion in revenue.

How You Built That

After Barb Heilman invented a device that easily releases child car seat buckles, she started a business with her daughter Becca Davison called Unbuckle Me.

How You Built That: Unbuckle Me

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/747660923/747709007" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">