In the summer of 2022 I took a prototype that I built for Bull and Cleaver and tested it with hundreds of merchants. The feedback was immediate and the results exceeded even my high expectations.
We had customers, we had angel cheques from friends I had worked with for 10+ years and the next challenge was to build the team. I knew this was something I wanted to make real in the world. One of the few ideas that have an immediate impact, but also a roadmap 10 years into the future I could envision.
I used this as an opportunity to reimagine my dream team. And readers, boy did I achieve it.
So first of all let me tell you the three things we were looking for:
- Technical excellence. We are doing something very critical in merchants’ stores, and where any lag can cost thousands of dollars.
- Platform thinking. Most apps are just apps, but in building many developer products at Shopify I saw the potential and I needed folks that thought in systems.
- Merchant-first thinking. My edge at Shopify was that I was a merchant. I believe more apps would be more impactful if people tried running a store rather than just copying the top apps category of the apps store.
Recruiting one of our first users
My friend Ilia was the first person I pitched Abra on. He was the first shop we took live and he kicked our asses. He told us it wasn’t good enough. Gave me 10 pages outlining how it needed to be better and more useful for merchants.
He has spent the last 5 years running a store that has done over $10 million, and the previous 5 as a product design lead at Shopify, of which most were dedicated to building marketing technology together.
Abra runs on your storefront and represents your brand. It was important to me that we added another merchant in residence, one that could think through things brand first.
Hiring the best developer I know
When Ryan left my team at Shopify in 2021 I told him I would invest in anything he did. He worked on a self-funded Shopify app for the next year and sold it in 2022. During that time, we stayed close and ended up working together on many things at Bull and Cleaver.
One of the last ideas we jammed on was a way of personalizing open graph images and other parts of the store for a specific promotion. This was very complimentary to what I was prototyping at Bull and Cleaver that later became Abra.
After spending 4 years working together at Shopify, a Shopify app acquisition, and a tour of duty on the innovation team at Spotify, we are super excited to work together again.
What’s coming next
We kicked things off together in February 2023, and since then we took all the learnings from our early customers into a more robust platform foundation.
We are launching the new version of Abra next week and you can expect faster onboarding, storefront performance and infinitely more customization with our storefront SDK.
To learn more about Abra and be the first to get access to our new platform signup today.