Bootstrapping on Shopify

Today we are talking about bootstrapping your business, something near and dear to both Kelly's and my heart.

We are joined by a fellow bootstrapper, Isaac Bowen, Founder and CEO of Lightward, to discuss his journey building two apps, Locksmith and Mechanic.

Let's dig in!

 



guest.

Isaac Bowen

 

Isaac Bowen is on a quest. The founder and CEO of Lightward Inc, Isaac has structured Lightward as a long-running experiment: “if we make every decision by just feeling for where there’s the most light ahead, do we have a business?”
Lightward has ten years of history on the Shopify app store, beginning with Gatekeeper in 2011, and offering Locksmith and Mechanic in the present day — both tools for expressing merchant and developer creativity.
All told, Lightward serves more than 10,000 Shopify stores, and earns more than $2MM in annual revenue. Lightward’s Shopify work funds other exploratory projects, like Empowered Human Academy — a podcast investigating self-realization, and the paths we take in finding our light.
Before going fully independent with his team at Lightward, Isaac worked at Apple Inc as a senior engineer. He’s married to his adventure buddy, Abe Lopez.

 

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Every aspect of your website is a variable that could be impacting your businesses revenue. We all want to grow our business. When we make changes we look for that to improve our business. Maybe you add a new graphic here, new social proof on your product page there, maybe change your pricing, bingo. But... do you know if your new thing is helping or hurting you? 
Today, testing is a requirement in understanding what is and isn't working for your business. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to test. In fact we set up our first test in less than 10 minutes using Neat A/B Testing. After our test was live we saw a confidence level on each of our tests to know what is actually best for our business. How? They showed us the additional revenue per view for each variant! Give our friends at Neat A/B Testing a try today and start testing for your business. Head over to try.neatab.com/commerce-tea and start your 14-day free trial.

 

 

show notes.

  • [03:48] Who is Isaac Bowen?
  • [11:40] Lightward
  • [15:56]The journey of Locksmith
  • [24:24] Leading a remote team
  • [27:55] Why Lightward decided to bootstrap
  • [32:07] Why Lightward is build exclusively on and for Shopify
  • [35:10] Predictions for the future of commerce
  • [37:37] Empowered Human Academy
  • Store shoutout: No Nasties
  • Store shoutout: Xocolatl
  • Store shoutout: Teaspressa

resources. 

transcript. 

Rhian 0:00
Today we are talking about bootstrapping your business something near and dear to both Kelly's and my heart. We are joined by a fellow bootstrapper Isaac Bowen, founder and CEO of light word to discuss his journey building two apps locksmith and mechanic. Let's dig in.

Welcome to Commerce Tea, a podcast to help you succeed on Shopify.

Kelly 0:25
I'm Ryan. And I'm Kelly. Grab a mug and join us as we talk about all things commerce.

Rhian 0:38
Hey, Kelly, let's say I can't write code, but I want to create workflows that carry out repetitive tasks automatically. So that way I can focus on my business and create great customer experiences. What what to use,

Kelly 0:51
I recommend Mesa a no code workflow builder for any action your customer takes. You can use meses built in features to extend your connected apps, set up email notifications, receive forms, scheduled tasks, delay workflows, and much more. Developers like me also love Mesa because we can lift the hood on any automation to customize for total control.

Rhian 1:11
Okay, I'm in how do I start go

Kelly 1:14
to get Mesa calm. That's GE t mesa.com. And their team of automation experts will support you on your journey. 24 seven, every aspect of your website is a variable that could be impacting your business's revenue. We all want to grow our business, and we may change in the hopes of seeing our business grow. Maybe you add a new graphic here, new social proof on your product page there, maybe change your pricing. But do you know if this new thing is helping or hurting you? Today, testing is a requirement understanding what is and isn't working for your business. You don't need to be a rocket scientist test. In fact, I set up my first test in less than 10 minutes on a client stored using neat A B testing. After the test was live. We saw a confidence level on each of our tests to know which is actually best for the business, how they sort of see additional revenue per view for each variants. Give her friends that need a be testing twice a day and start testing for your business. Head over to try need AB comm slash commerce dash t to start your 14 day free trial. Again, that's try dot n e@ab.com slash commerce dash T.

Rhian 2:21
Hello, Isaac. Hello. How are you today?

Isaac 2:25
I am fantastic. The sun is shining it and I'm talking to two wonderful humans. Thank you for having me today.

Kelly 2:31
Thanks for joining. It's sunny here. And I know we don't usually talk about the weather because it's super boring. But I just have to say the humidity is finally not like at 80%. And I can go outside without immediately starting to sweat and it is an amazing feeling. I'm very happy for you. I say that theoretically. Like because I haven't actually walked outside. But that's how it works.

Rhian 2:58
That's what the outside is like. But I don't know for a fact. So what are you drinking? I know you said you're drinking tea I sick.

Isaac 3:09
I'm drinking a Puerh from this little Chinese tea shop in Denver called cuccia. And I love it dearly and you cannot pry it from my you can't you could break from my cold dead hands. But it'd be tough because because it'd be tough, but it's my favorite tea.

Kelly 3:21
Because Science. I'm not drinking to you.

Rhian 3:27
Yeah, I was just say Kelly's like pounding her third cold coffee of the day.

What am I wrong?

Kelly 3:40
That's all I have to say about that.

Rhian 3:42
Oh my gosh. Okay. Well, Isaac, thank you so much for joining us. Who are you? We know you Who are you? What do you do?

Isaac 3:48
Cool. My name is Isaac Bowen, who am I? And what do I do is a question plug. We explore an empowered human Academy. Our podcast was not planned advertising it but it came up organically. So here we go. I'm Isaac bow. And I've been in the Shopify community for like 10 or 11 years. And actually additions to community. I've been doing Shopify apps that long, but it took me until like four years ago to actually go like, Oh, hey, other people are building things too. And you're all wonderful. So I've been building things here for a long time, more recently, actually connected to the community. I found Shopify to be an extraordinary platform to build things on. We'll talk more about that I assume. But as as light word, our company, I think in terms of like one big ongoing experiment, I've been lucky enough that my absence have planned done well enough that we can now bankroll other things that we want to try out like the podcast that just came up. So there's a there's a direct line there like the the things that grew slowly and steadily that we bootstrapped foreshadowing. With Shopify, those have led but the ability to us or for us to try other things as lightworkers the whole thing is just one big experiment in if we make every decision, with the litmus test being like, does this feel like there's more light at the end of this particular tunnel? And this other one? If we only make decisions that way? Do we have a viable business? And so far? Seems like we do something we do.

Kelly 5:12
No, I love that, because that's the exact opposite of what we're doing. And that you're bankrolling your podcasts and your apps. We're using our podcasts to bankroll our new app company. Oh, cool,

Isaac 5:23
awesome. That makes it there's so many ways to put things together

Kelly 5:28
are sponsored by all of our podcast sponsors. Thank you. Excellent, excellent.

Rhian 5:36
But I love that right. Like that's that that's one of the beauties of bootstrapping, which is what we're gonna get into is you then have capital to do what you want to with. And the way we bootstrapped over Event Hub is I consulted and my business partner still worked a full time job. Up until so I stopped consulting in 2015. But he didn't stop his full time job until 2017. Hmm. So, and that's how we bootstrapped and that's I think it's a, it's good to talk about what bootstrapping actually looks like, as opposed to it. Because while we can say, Oh, it's awesome, once you make it, good when you, it's when you're still trying to make it where it gets a little tight. And you're like, Okay, I let's also acknowledge restriping is not available for everybody this is, is yes, definitely coming from a point of privilege. So we're very fortunate, all three of us, that we that we were able to do that. But be bootstrapping. While it is fun. It is also very stressful. Often times until you get to a point where it's not stressful anymore, but I feel like that flips, I don't know if that was your experience. But for me, it really flipped. So like word of mouth.

Isaac 6:49
I'm gonna ask that question Can or you didn't ask a question all for my perspective, in a roundabout kind of way. A really core thing for light word is let's is to feel for the balance of the speaking really abstract terms here. But feel for the balance and make sure that we retain it all the time as much as we can. And I lead with that, because when I was starting the app that became what what is now locksmith, then it was called gate gatekeeper. When I was starting things, from beginning from when you're starting things all the way up to the present day, it's always been about making sure that I can remain as balanced with the next step as I am in the current step. So the time that I was putting into then keeper was something manageable. And I think it's a I think it's a particular quirk of the app ecosystem that I can put in a couple of hours here and there. And then those hours serve any number of people who happen to show up and use the app, right? Like it's, it's not like I have to be physically in a store. I think bootstrapping something physical is probably a very different experience than bootstrapping software. But for me, in college, which is where I was, when I started this thing, putting in just a little bit of time, making sure that that investment was sustainable. Building the like smallest, tightest MVP possible, making sure that was usable. And then just slowly layering things on over time. There have absolutely been days when there was overwhelm, and there were 50 messages waiting for me, and it was already 2am. And I had a day job to go to 100%. That is the thing. But overwhelmingly, my story, bootstrapping has been very, like stable and slow. And I wasn't aiming for any particular heights at any particular time. It's honestly felt very good. And I feel like if I can round up through the whole decade, I feel pretty rested. On the whole, actually. Does that make sense?

Kelly 8:36
Yeah. Yeah. That's great. Wonderful. Yeah. I'm, I'm curious. Was there a certain turning point or a certain moment where you're like, Okay, now it's time to work on another app?

Isaac 8:47
Hmm. No. The, I mean, there was a turning point where the finances tilted and I was able to leave apples where I was working at the time. So that was, that was a turning point. That's where my mind went first. But But no, there was never like, okay, now it's time to shift focus to something else. And the reason for that, is that my particular personality type isn't really about like, Okay, what am I doing? Next? What, what's what I want to shoot for? I'm bored of this, let's switch gears. There's some of that. But typically, what I'm always doing is is feeling out for given everything that I can sense in this environment, what does it feel like wants to come forward at the moment? And how can I How can I pave the way for that to be and I explained that because when, when I started working on mechanic, which is the second and only other app that we built, when I started working on mechanic, it wasn't because I wanted to go solve something else. So I was casting without trying to find the thing to build it was because I looked at the shop ecosystem and I said there is something missing here. Like there there are wonderful API's to use and lots of problems to solve, but the overhead is too high. And and I said okay, well, we have liquid can we apply this to to the to the concept Just like rendering API calls, is that the thing that we can do? It's the thing we can do, it turns out so what I was doing wasn't like casting around trying to find something to solve, because I wanted another thing to solve. It was from a place of anger already content, I was just feeling out in environments saying, Okay, what feels like it wants to be birthed here, like, what's not What's missing? But what wants to exist here?

Kelly 10:20
Does that make sense? Yeah, it does. Also, can you teach me how to take on your personality? Because I like, what's next? What are we doing? That's what not what Not now,

Isaac10:30
which is super valuable, super valuable. I'm married to a person who is more, you know, on that side of the scale, if we, if we call it a scale, it's not it's not one dimensional, but are two dimensional. both perspectives are super valuable. And in in marriage to somebody who works a bit more like that. I don't know, I've found it to be super productive, that we've had to learn to think with each other and and sync up but not sync up. Like we've had to develop vocabulary around how we both think about the future. But I think both perspectives are super important. Like let's begin from contentment. in kind of a it's not passive, it's not active, just kind of a general sensing for what we feel like wants to happen next. But also, let's be dreaming. Let's be thinking about what is out there in the future that feels really specifically exciting. And as we are kind of organically growing and building and expanding right here. How can you also be bearing that specific teacher in mind that we can do something that sounds like fun?

Rhian 11:26
I love that. Oh, my. Yeah, that's, that is fantastic. So do y'all work together? Or, or are you work in different fields, same fields, what's

Isaac 11:40
the state of nature? So I'm married my husband and happy bride everyone? He is, let's see. So we're both we're both co leaders light word, I suppose. Like, I'm the principal founder, he showed up in my life several years later, and is now important. And vice versa. And vice versa. There was skin various curtain was pulled back and behold, there was a kind of hard work, actually, it's a different story. Yes, we're so we're both super active in letter word. And returning to the language of an experiment. Like this is just where we do all of our experiments, right. And eight has, for example, it has always had a heart for rising leaders, starting from Leadership Camp when he was really young, and to being in a leadership role in those leadership camps. So one, one function that he was engaged in is this whole arm called light word empowerment. And it's about reminding, reminding people of the light and agency that they all contained within themselves. And so the podcast is part of that empowerment Academy, like I mentioned, it as a as a coaching thing that he's evolving. He's he's got one on one coaching relationships with a bunch of clients. And we've got like we're together, which is a kind of a group community function, the idea being that we are all on our specific paths of figuring out who we are, and how to release ourselves, right. And so what we're together is where we do that as a group, that we're all sharing our journeys and keep in touch. So I mentioned all of that, because I interact with all those things. And on the Shopify side, whenever there's an occasion for people to be in the same place, eight is also there. And it's super common for us to be at United or something in Toronto, and for a guy to come back with a list of contacts that I met and who immediately fell out of my head and it'll be the person that maintains all of those relationships because his Dunbar limit, but the theoretical maximum, how many people you can keep in your brain, please, Dunbar limit is super high. And I can keep track of six people at once. So he's like, he hasn't had a title, Intertek business, but he's a very important part of this. He's kind of like, like the, I don't know, he's an energy stakeholder like he he's deeply in touch with all the people on the team. And the people that we speak to at conferences and whatnot. And he's an important part of how we show up in the world physically out there. So to answer your question, in a super brief sentence, we overlapping each other's work heavily and we take points in different areas.

Rhian 14:14
You sound like you balance each other out really well. And with any type of CO leadership or co founder, ship or etc. co togetherness, yeah, it's super important to find someone like that, whether it's a life partner or business partner, where you're just simpatico with one another, where it's like, yes, you share some of the same skills, but you're like the Venn diagram is not a circle. It is actually a Venn diagram. And there's that magic in that overlap, but then also in that the separateness, separateness separation the differences there we go, I can speak I promise rudeness, that Brit Stefan jackin Yeah,

Kelly 14:52
Adrian, what can I do to help my support team be more efficient,

Rhian 14:55
I recommend gorgeous, gorgeous combines all your communications channels, and click An email, SMS, social media, live chat and phone. It's a one platform that gives you an organized view of all help requests. This saves your support team hours per day, it makes managing customer orders a breeze. Sounds great.

Kelly 15:15
What else can it do? with gorgeous, you

Rhian 15:17
can pre write and save responses to your most frequently asked questions. You even have access to the customer's order information. So you can personalize responses with things like an order or tracking number. This then frees up your time so your support team can focus on complex questions. The sounds

Kelly 15:34
like a great way to also increase sales and brand loyalty. Where can I learn more can request a

Rhian 15:39
demo visit Commerce tea.com forward slash gorgeous, that's Commerce tea.com slash GORGI. A s? Why don't you tell us about your journey with locksmith beginning beginning to now sounds good

Isaac15:56
2009 or 10. Somewhere in there I ever started I have to look at my credit history and GitHub to find out when this actually was but I, I built a thing called gatekeeper. And actually the better place to start is I had a friend who had a friend who bought the local music store in my tiny hometown of rhinelander in northern Wisconsin. And this person, this new proprietor needed a way to allow parents of local elementary school children to open up their website and and purchase instrument rentals. And he wanted to make sure that these instrumentals are only available for this particular audience. Shopify was a couple years old at that point, but still quite new. And I as I was passing about trying to find like the right platform to set them up on in the first place, Shopify immediately felt like the only offering out there that had clean patterns. I don't remember what alternatives were out there like PayPal embedded buttons, I think, was the other contender, but Shopify was the only platform that felt like whoever was behind it had a, they knew to value consistency in their pattern making. It was the only platform that felt sane. And I'm dwelling on this subject for a minute because my sense of what patterns feel sustainable and like they're going to grow and be alive, maybe in a different way, but still be alive in a couple of years. Like that's, that's a constant thing that I'm feeling for at all times. So I felt it was Shopify. And so I got them into Shopify. And there's just one piece missing, which was how do we reserve part of this content just for a certain audience. And that was where gatekeeper came into place. And Shopify then didn't have a customer model that was surfaced in the API, they didn't have a way to sign in with a customer account at that time. And so gatekeeper was like an entire user permissions layer built out mostly in JavaScript was a baby amount of liquid involved. It was just a way to, at that time, almost entirely on the front end, do basic permission, Ming make sure that some products and collections are only available for people with the right code, etc, etc.

Kelly 18:14
Okay, so I've been familiar with locksmith for a very, very, very long time. At what point did you make the switch to rebuild as locksmith?

Isaac 18:23
It was it was whenever Shopify introduced the customer resource I can find like, I don't know, it was probably three or four years into gatekeeper existing, which puts us at what, like 2012 or 2013, something like that.

Kelly 18:39
Okay. Okay. So I probably knew early locksmith, then but not gatekeeper. I came into shop buy in 2014. Sweet. Okay, yeah. Okay, so how have you evolved the app over time?

Isaac18:50
Hmm, that is an interesting question. Because the answer is almost not at all. Like there there are changes, but don't really view them as being super substantive. And to explain my point there, and harkening back to what I said about patterns and choosing patterns that have life and then I suppose that's it, that's it, like, overstate what I'm doing with locksmith, but the fundamental concept of you've identified a resource, you put a lock on it, you configure some number of keys, each key has a set of conditions on it. The current visitor qualifies for at least one key great, they've opened a lock, they gain access to the resource, those concepts don't change super much. We've, if anything, what we've done over time is evolved towards greater consistency. At the very beginning, when I laid those patterns into place, there were like uneven, there are some places where I, I was inconsistent in the approach. And I actually don't have a specific example some stuff that's not helpful but the core concepts of like a resource and a lock and key and a key condition, those don't ever change. And if they do we have a different product, I think. So the only thing, like the important thing over time is that this model grows in its ability to address different situations and grows in its consistency and seen as poorly. The concept is very simple. executing the simple thing well over time is, can be tricky. And so the idea is that over time, we're honing the product so that it gets closer and closer to what it actually is. And the closer locksmith gets in, it's a serving, its its core pattern, its core design focus, the better it is for everyone. How do I since then a better way, if we've done our job? Well, over time, those core patterns don't change. But it becomes easier to apply those in places where they deserve to be applied. Take. There's a mobile app maker right now for Shopify, who's who's working with us on how do we get locksmith working with mobile apps? And the core concepts of locksmith makes sense here, but because we've built it, like just for the online store sales channel, how do we end because we've built everything around like liquid and the context available, you know, in an online storefront liquid template? How do we begin to think about enforcing these permissions on a mobile app somewhere? So this is the kind of question that illustrates what I'm talking about here. We've got the same set of we've got the same pattern, resource lock key key condition, how do we make this work in all the places where it deserves to work? And I feel like that's where the real evolution of locksmith is, over time, same set of patterns, those do not change. It's just a matter of making sure that if you can imagine locksmith working in this specific context, and if that actually makes sense, then we want you to be able to do that. And so we're increasing locksmiths, applicability, maybe or the viability of the idea that you have with locksmith over time. Does that make sense? That makes absolute sense. Yes.

Kelly 21:59
Okay. And how many people do you now have working on both locksmith and mechanic?

Rhian 22:08
Seven, six or seven? I think, yeah. Me.

Kelly 22:14
Yeah, no idea is a terrible thing to say I don't I have 30 employees. And I have some number of contracts. Cool.

Isaac 22:21
Cool. It sounds wonderful. At the at the end of August, we will have nine full timers spread across locksmith and mechanic and all the things that are that are also part of why we're

Kelly 22:35
and are they fully remote?

Isaac 22:38
The Yes, I'm pausing because we had fun side story. We just rented a place in California. I'm talking to you from Laguna Beach right now. And there's somebody that

Rhian 22:52
California do live in Laguna Beach. I'm staying in Long Beach half time, and we're in Orange County all of the time. Okay. We're gonna connect offline. Yeah.

Isaac 3:03
Wonderful. You can come visit us but you'd have to go outside so I don't.

Kelly 23:15
Just for you.

Rhian 23:17
This is a great, sir. Okay, so you're in Laguna right now.

Isaac 23:20
Yeah, I mentioned that because like a one of the persons that we're hiring is for a role that is not limited to tech business whatsoever. And she's a dear dear friend of ours. And because the relationships that I've got a light word, like everyone that I that I hire is also somebody that, like, I want to hold close to my heart also. And I mentioned this because the person that we're hiring, is also going to be like splitting this department with us. And that's something that feels like consonant and resonant with, with language, right? Like it's all an experiment, why shouldn't this be inbounds? And if it feels aligning for everyone involved? And let's fucking try it and see what happens. So, yeah, I don't remember what the original question was. But lately,

Kelly 24:00
it was remote.

Isaac 24:03
Mostly remote, mostly remote. We've got people in Australia and Canada and scattered across the US. And that's it so far.

Kelly 24:08
Okay, so you're very intentional about who you're hiring, it's incredibly clear, it's very clear that you are. So I imagine managing a remote team for you is probably a little bit different. Given the stronger relationships you already have with these people.

Isaac 24:24
Possibly, I wouldn't even use the word manage. Core also to like light word and how we work is the like, kind of sacred idea that everybody is a free agent at all times. And if the right thing for you to do tomorrow is to leave light word forever, then wonderful. I'm happy that you're making a choice that is right in line for you because that's what I want to build a world out of right? I want to build a world where everyone has the the internal permission to make deeply aligned choices. And if we're in a world where that isn't always the case. Sometimes it's useful to explore give other people that permission also. So one of the things that I do with my team, which I don't really call management, but it sure is to remind everybody that, hey, you are entirely in charge of yourself and your health. And actually, like, if we're looking at your priority list as an employee, the number one explicitly charged priority is your own health. And you are the only person who gets to say, what that means, or what's involved in that, or what or what to do with that on any given day. And by making sure that everybody understands unambiguously that, that is the most important thing. I ended up with a company that I want to have, not the time, like, I don't give advice anymore. That's not a thing. But I know what I want to build for myself, and I know what I what patterns I want to set in motion around me. And that's the experiment like words, right? Like I touched that here, also with my employee relationships, and and how our teams are, are encouraged to operate. And I think courage because, again, everyone's a free agent. And the the organization and communication that arises in our team is very organic, and not super structured. There are times when I'll speak with somebody every day or multiple times a day about something. And then I won't see them again for two weeks, because that's the current cadence of my like one on one calls, I call them sick calls, their synchronization calls. Because I want to get in sync with not just what you're doing, but how like the the energy that you're that you're moving in. And I bring that up, because so much of light words function is intuitive. And for us to move in, through intuitively in concert, I need to be in touch with, with with you, like whatever whatever part of yourself you feel like surfacing. But to share intuitive movement means we got to be in touch in more ways than just Trello. And these are some of the things that go into how I manage that work. Does that help?

Kelly 26:59
Yes, I love I love having Well, we just call them one on ones. With our, with my team. You know, having 13 full time employees means that not everybody reports directly to me. So I'm I am grand boss to a number of people. And it's my

Rhian 27:18
boss that sound like for my Nintendo not in a good way.

Kelly 27:27
I did not choose them, but I accepted. But I feel like it's one on ones are important time to not provide feedback. They're important time to get on the same page of you know, how, how are things not only just, you know, how is your work going, but how is how are things for you as a human? I look forward to my one on ones with my team. And I I hope they do too.

Isaac 27:55
I totally agree. And for me, making an effort to maintain the through line of bootstrapping near the like that kind of conversation is critical to the bootstrapping path for me. Like the when I when I brought in when I invited in my first collaborator, can if you're listening to this love, you do have a grateful for you. Ken was the first person to join in and I didn't know it's not that I didn't know what I was doing. But I didn't have like an onboarding plan. There was nothing to onboard into there was just i've i've got more here than I can handle Can you do want to help me and would help me help you also. So having that kind of in touchiness that, again, love Trello, but again, isn't just based on you know, let's logically coordinate. bringing our our mutual humanity like putting that on the table and saying, cool, can't really specifically or exhaustively define this. But this is an important part of how we work together. So let's mush these humans together and make sure they understand each other. So that whatever happens next is a product of, of alignment of our shared understanding of who we are individually and who we are together. And all of that plus the context of and also we happen to run a thing called locksmith that has customers what do we do with that together? And the challenge is figuring out how to scale that and I'm hesitating, because I think there's a problem with the way I posed that. In my experience with bootstrapping, figuring out like air quotes, figuring out isn't always the thing for me. semantics, like different words mean different things, different people. But figuring out here, I mean, let's lay down all the blocks and try to logically figure out the sequence of events and like, logically reason around how everything should work. But I mentioned intuition earlier, and I feel like That's a lot of it. And I don't really know how to talk about that, except that I rely heavily on my gut to tell me like where this thing wants to go. As opposed to what my, like cerebral cortex thinks should happen next. I don't know that's that's important part of bootstrapping for me. Not not saying logically, where do I think this goes? But having kind of a sense for if the thing that I've bootstrapped is actually alive? What does it want to evolve into next? Where is its path of growth? Does that make sense?

Kelly 30:37
It does. And honestly, I think it applies to entrepreneurship as a whole, whether you're bootstrapping, obviously, when you take on, you know, investments, there are other people who also might decide the direction in which you need to go. So there is definitely more more freedom that you get you have, you know, more control of your bootstrap, you own the business, you choose which path you eventually want to take. But I think for me, you know, especially there are these ideas of what scaling is supposed to look like. And you don't have to follow a specific path that people seem to set out for you. You choose, or as you mentioned, the business chooses on its own, like I always, you know, I call my business, my child, because the business has its own identity. The business has its own attitude. And it also just decides, from one day to the next what it wants to be doing, and who wants to be. So there's and I haven't actually announced this yet. But by the time this episode comes out, it will have been announced. I'm taking a one month sabbatical for July, and basically a way to sit with the business and be like, Alright, who do we want to be next? Yeah, I'm so happy. I've never done I've never taken that much time off before. So I'm thrilled.

Isaac 31:56
Awesome. I'm excited for you. I'm excited for the business trials. And for everybody who's involved in it. I feel like I can only end really well. Congratulations.

Kelly 32:07
Thank you. Yeah, that's you. Okay, so probably still in line with bootstrapping to a level. But why did you decide to build exclusively on Shopify?

Isaac 32:20
Okay, cool. Let's answer this in a couple different ways. And didn't make the decision going forward. It wasn't like I sat down and say, I didn't sit down and say, I'm going to build apps, and they're only going to be on Shopify, that was never a thing that happened. Originally, for the story. I told earlier, I sat down to say, I'm going to help a friend of a friend sell the thing. And Shopify is the best tool for that. And I, they give me their API gives me enough to work with that I can build the thing that I ultimately want. So that's what started to ask the question in a different way. It's actually probably more correct to say that I never decided to take it elsewhere. Rather than saying I'm going to Shopify exclusive, that tends to be like consistent with how I think about things. I don't tend, I tend to not rule things out unilaterally. I'll say, cool. That doesn't make sense right now. And then I'll move forward. And maybe I'll say the same thing tomorrow, maybe I won't. Turns out it insane. It doesn't make sense to go somewhere other than Shopify, for 12 years running or wherever we are the same. So yeah, not really a decision to be exclusive. More of a decision, actually, is relationship metaphors here. That's different podcasts, not really decision to be exclusive. But instead of decision that everyone is best served, if served, if I'm here, we've been approached, actually by other platforms, like every so often, big commerce will say, Hey, can you come over here, please? I just have no interest in doing so love you big commerce. Right now. The things that I've built, are deeply informed by my understanding of Shopify is modeling of the world. And those models probably has parallels on other platforms. But what I've made is very specifically informed by the patterns that are running at Shopify. And I feel like going to another platform is, I don't know, I just need a really good reason to do so. And I have yet to run into one. And if I find a good reason, I'll do it. But I haven't yet and I'm very happy. So here we are

Kelly 34:32
at an answer. There's no right or wrong, obviously, but Oh, totally. It was a good answer. For me,

Rhian 34:39
yeah, I mean, I totally get it. It's I've had many of an approach of Would you like to come build over here and yeah, many of Thank you, but not right now. And it keeps I've not right now. Nine years in a row. So I I get it and I totally get it. And so a question for you This is a predictive if you have a magic ball, what do you think? What do you think the future of commerce is going to look like?

Unknown Speaker 35:10
Hmm. I mean, my gut response was just better, which is kind of a throwaway response, but also is my is, is my like inner conviction that everything is getting better. And some things are taking a securities test to better but I hold a very deep conviction that everything gets better over time. Fully acknowledgement for the valleys and the troughs that things fall into. And I'm not saying that the path is never easy. But I think things get better over time. And I'm glad to be at Shopify, with Shopify, around Shopify, this segment not endorsed by Shopify, because they don't feel very aligned with what they put out into the world in that way. So very generically speaking, better. You're welcome. More specifically. You know, I don't know. The i think i think the truest way for me to respond to or force me to respond here is to say that this isn't how I think at all, I don't I don't think about the future in in any kind of specific detail. married to a way that I am, I'm learning to speak that language. But I don't spend any time trying to predict anything. And going back to something that I said earlier in the conversation mechanic came into being because I felt like it's what wanted to happen. And that feels a hair different to me, but a very important hair, different teeth, then what do i think is going to happen? Like, it's it felt like mechanic wanted to exist, and so it does now. But that's different to me looking at crystal ball and saying something like this is going to exist in the future. There are times when I have a strong sense for what wants to happen next. And there are times when I I don't it doesn't feel like a lack. It's just like, I don't have that sense right now. And I don't have that sense right now, in response to your question. Not a specific sense. I may in the future, and that maybe why build something new? But, yeah, all all that I can really say concretely is that this is a good place to be for me and the people around me. And I like what's happening here. And it feels like it's a part of the what I believe to be in inexorable draw towards better, everything getting better. That's, that's how I would answer that question.

Kelly 37:31
I have an easier question for you.

Rhian 37:32
Oh, an easier question.

Kelly 37:35
Can you tell us about your podcast?

Isaac 37:37
Absolutely. Yeah, empowered human Academy empowers human Academy, it's predicated on this idea that we are all deeply free. And I'm not even going to qualify that statement. Apart from saying that, like everyone's life experiences, super, super real. But underneath, I have this unwavering conviction that we are all free to, to make choices that are entirely our own. And I'm projecting a little bit of my specific purpose onto the podcast here, because it has its own and our guests all have their own. But the point of the podcast is to, is to take an hour at a time with each guest. And to explore the through line of self discovery, and, and the stepping into agency that I think many people go through the idea of, like, cool, I don't have to make choices that are dictated to me by like, early on my parental figures and my caretakers, or later on in life like I don't, I don't have to operate in a mindset that I am bound to something that feels on the lining, right? Like I've talked to so many people who feel like they're on journeys of discovering who they are, and of learning that they can make choices that reflect whoever that person actually is. so empowering Academy is a conversation series where we talk with people and learn about how that theme shows up in their lives, how they, how they evolve a sense of, of personal empowerment, and how they figure out and kind of distill down who they actually are underneath everything and how they operate from that base. The idea being that as we have these conversations, and people hear them, they might hear things that resonate with parts of their own journey and give them a little bit more energy for their own process. Everyone's story is unique and different, but we gain like inspiration from each other. And eha is an exercise in that. Like, for me, it's I don't know, each conversation is deeply invigorating for me. And our guests tend to feel that way also. And the hope is that as people listen, they find things that remind them that they are themselves and that is good and okay and it's okay to build a life based on who you actually are, and not on anything else. I live This project a lot. So how are you doing Academy? Thanks for asking.

Kelly 40:03
We'll definitely put a link to that in our show notes.

Rhian 40:05
Absolutely. Okay, so to round us out to finish us up we could talk all day. Let's talk about store shout out store shout out for you, Isaac, what's your store shout out.

Isaac 40:18
Totally my sore shout out is no nasties, go to no nasties dot i and I learned about these folks, because their users have no mechanic they they texted me on slack A while back and said hey, we've been using mechanic. It's wonderful. Can we can we send you some shirts and they did. And I immediately turned around and bought many more shirts because what they make is wonderful, organic, Fairtrade vegan, carbon neutral, good other people based out of India. I've spoken like I've had calls with their team or someone from their team. They're just I use the word aligned a lot. This feels like good aligned work and I don't get to label anyone's experience that way. But the part of me that resonates with this is a part of me that I like so they can say it that way. No nasties that I am wonderful clothing. I love this like the material itself. I love what goes into the material the process the people all that stuff. Like, don't ask you don't

Kelly 41:21
think I'm going to be doing some shopping today. You won't regret it. Kelly, what about you? So my store that I'm shouting out today as cold chocolate bottle. And for the longest time it did not know how to pronounce it. But we recently did his remote chocolate tasting for our team. And they were super accommodating. So actually based here in Atlanta, which is why I was confused about the name because if I I'm showing the one of the bars of chocolates on the my camera here, you can see that ATL is in a different color. And it just so happens to be based in Atlanta doesn't really mean anything else. But their chocolate is so good. They work with CO ops. So everything all the chocolate there are the the caribbeans and everything. It's all No, they literally visit the place it is and they meet the people and it's just really, really cool experience. And but yeah, they were super accommodating for us. They shipped chocolate to Scotland, they ship chocolate to Venezuela so our remote employees could also join in on the fun. And I cannot recommend this chocolate enough. I just I have three bars of it right now. I actually bought two years ago for a client gifts as well, because I wanted them to enjoy some of the chocolate too. It's just It's so good. Cool, I highly recommend that is XOCO l ATL chocolate calm. And that's why I did not know how to pronounce it. Thank you for responding. Regan What about you?

Rhian 42:55
Mine is t suppressor I was gifted some of this recently it t suppressor t a s PRESS a.com will link to it in the show notes. They have what I would just identify as and I mean this with love boozy t stuff. So they've got it's like organic tea and then they've got lox sugar cube so like you know, do you want like a vanilla sugar cube and your tea? You can have that? Do you want toppings? Do you want your tea to have flowers floating in it? That can happen for you too? And do you want an elixir where you drop it in for more flavor? Yeah, you can have all of that at tea stresa I got it as a gift. I'm obsessed with their brand now. Everybody check it out. It's it's very extra. But it's like my kind of extra

Kelly 43:40
wonderful. sounds just like

Isaac 43:44
if I've learned anything from my husband, it's do not apologize for being extra.

Kelly 43:51
good lesson to end on. Right. I do have one final question for you. Where can we find you on the internet?

Isaac 43:59
Wow. What word.com is the place to start? I like even on maintaining certain accounts. He's more active at AIG Lopez or as Bowen lightwood.com is the place to start. And that's because most of what I'm learning as a person ends up in my company somehow. We here here's the thing does plug Actually, we write a newsletter that comes out every every Friday every other Friday. Like we're dot com slash newsletter. That is probably the best consistent source of that which is Isaac on a regular drip basis. We don't use drip, but still.

Kelly 44:40
It'd be really funny if you did, but that's okay. I accept it. All right. Isaac, thank you so much for joining us. This was so much fun.

Isaac 44:48
Yeah, you too are wonderful. I'm excited to have like FaceTime with you to dear listeners. Sorry. You didn't get to be part of the video part. It was fun. It was great. Thank you.

Kelly 45:01
All right. Thanks so much for tuning in. And thanks again to our sponsors for supporting this episode. We have a YouTube channel you can visit it@youtube.com slash Commerce Tea. If you like our podcast, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts reviews make us very, very happy. Please. Every time I start talking you're like, please subscribe to Commerce Tea on your favorite podcasting service. We post new episodes every Wednesday. So grab your mug and join us then we'll see you next week.

Rhian 45:29
The thigh clocked in is the time clock for Shopify. With clocked in your team members can easily clock in and out of their shifts from anywhere. You can manage your team's hours as they work remotely with an intuitive interface that can be used from desktop, tablet or mobile. Check it out at clocked in.io or in the Shopify App Store.


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