Inside Shopify Hack Days

Inside Shopify Hack Days


We’ve been doing something rather interesting for the past few years that I think you should know about.

It’s called Hack Days. Every three months, we take a break from our regular work and for two full days everyone in the company has free reign to work on whatever project they want – as long as it adds value to Shopify. There’s no limit to the creativity or scope of the projects, there’s only one rule to Hack Days: employees must ‘ship’ their projects no later than 4pm at the end of the second day. At this point, everyone meets in our staff lounge to pitch their finished projects.

Here’s what it looks like:

We treat Shopify Hack Days like a sandbox to try new ideas. The best ones stick and become innovative new features for our merchants and our internal infrastructure.

Here are just a few things that were created during Hack Days:

The Dating Game

The Dating Game is our in-house applicant tracking system. We use The Dating Game to manage our entire hiring process from job postings or head hunting calls to the signed offer.

The Dating Game

With The Dating Game we know who has interacted with every candidate and what the outcome was of the conversation. We even automated data entry with a ‘grab’ function from Github and LinkedIn.  

Shopify Stories

Shopify Stories is a collection of videos that capture the story behind our merchants. Through short videos we tell the tales of how our store owners started their business, why they decided to sell online, and how it’s changed their lives.

Shopify Classifieds

Instead of using Craigslist to buy, sell or trade our household stuff we decided to build our own classifieds app. With Shopify Classifieds staff can easily browse products their co-workers are looking to get rid of.

Shopify Classifieds 


Expensely is a hosted expense reimbursement system that allows managers to approve and seamlessly upload into both our accounting and payroll systems.


We even built a mobile version of Expensely so employees can take a picture of a receipt and instantly upload into the system.

Fraud Filter

Fraud Filter is a free Shopify App that gives our merchants greater control over their checkout, allowing them to block repeat fraudulent orders. Obviously, this is just an extra layer of protection on top of the security measures and fraud detections we already have in place, but it gives store owners some more flexibility and extra safeguards.

Brick-And-Mortar to Brick-And-Click

A few of us teamed up with a radio station to hold a contest for local retail shops. We built the winner an online store in one day and filmed some of the fun. 

The War Room

Since not all of our team are programmers or designers, some of our employees contribute in other ways. Our office is already pretty cool, but when one of our marketing guys wanted to build a “War Room” we couldn’t resist.

The War Room

The Benefits

Hack Days aren't just about building awesome things in two days. They’re about taking a creative break from regular duties. They’re about having fun and giving our employees autonomy to act upon their pent up ideas. They’re about team building and getting to work with people you usually don’t get to work with. And Hack Days are about taking a project – no matter how big – from start to finish in just two days.

Hack Days are a tremendous learning experience with tangible outcome, and for that have become an important part of our cultural repertoire of things we do to challenge ourselves.




  • Nicole
    March 26 2013, 02:52PM

    Thats actually a really smart idea that other companies should implement.

  • Seea
    March 26 2013, 03:14PM

    You guys rock!

  • Caroline
    March 26 2013, 04:58PM

    What an awesome idea. More companies should do this.

  • Adam
    March 27 2013, 12:50AM

    A fantastic way bring out peoples creativity.

  • Josh Highland
    Josh Highland
    March 27 2013, 02:43AM

    Such a great idea. The more I learn about Shopify, the more I love you guys. I think I’m a certified Shopify Fanboy now.

  • laura
    March 27 2013, 11:28AM

    Great idea..gotta stay fresh and creative! Love the war room!

  • Don
    March 27 2013, 02:42PM

    Hack up an RMA/returns module! :)

  • Stephanie
    March 27 2013, 06:50PM

    Such a fantastic idea! The Dating Game project stood out to me – I love it when people make organising things fun and easy!

  • Tristan - Shopify Ninjas
    Tristan - Shopify Ninjas
    March 27 2013, 09:17PM

    Nice to see such a great idea coming into action at Shopify HQ =)

  • steve
    March 28 2013, 07:43PM

    you guys should brainstorm about letting users setup free domain emails through service like every other company does

  • Dana
    March 29 2013, 07:55PM

    One of the more difficult things for a new online store is to search for manufactures/products, both in the US and internationally. I don’t know if it’s a tool that Shopify would consider developing, but it could really help.

  • Andrew
    March 31 2013, 10:47AM

    As much as I think this is a very cool idea and Shopify deserves credit for encouraging this kind of creativity, it would be really nice if you invested more time and resources in adding features that your customers desperately want.

    This is a good example of flawed management at start-ups, while you’re building cool, but unnecessary toys like an in-house classified ad system developers like me who like to send more customers your way instead have to recommend your competitors because your service lacks essential features.

  • Emil
    April 03 2013, 03:07PM

    Andrew: It’s not the amount of hours the Shopify team puts into Shopify that makes it a great product. It’s the amount of joy.

  • Elliott
    April 05 2013, 03:16PM

    PUT THE CLASSIFIEDS APP IN THE APP-STORE! This is a great app for local niche’ markets from pet products to children’s toys. I would use this right now, I’ve been search all day for something like that.
    A front-end interface for users to upload their products. Perfect.

  • suhana
    April 09 2013, 06:48AM

    Today i came across this amazing new website named…i really think you guys should check it out..

  • Kelly
    April 10 2013, 08:41AM

    I first heard about this idea through a lecture given by Sir Ken Robinson at a NCTE conference. I have applied this to my classrooms and now apply to my home business. Awesome creativity generator – good for you. ~Kelly

    May 06 2013, 06:45AM

    Appreciate sharing your experiences and thoughts. This is very helpful.

  • Chad
    May 06 2013, 09:38PM

    I agree with Emil! If its always go go go at a job, people tend to get disgruntled. I’m glad to know I am spending my money with a company who treats their employees like real people, not bots.
    I’d like a copy of the dating game for my own “internal affairs”! Bahahahha
    I crack myself up.
    No but seriously I would love it.

    Keep up the good work Shopify.

    I’m looking forward to our webstore going live…

  • charlie @propelad
    charlie @propelad
    June 06 2013, 09:30AM

    It would be cool if Shopify came up with a kind of share option pool or investment round for Experts and Developers to earn into or or buy in to at even a small amount. Giving them the opportunity to realize a return at some future date from all their work and enthusiasm for Shopify outside of the normal business activities. This could be one for your CFO & team to hack together!!

  • Steve
    June 06 2013, 11:15AM

    There is a giant demand among Shopify store owners for a simple “tare weight” option for shipping calculations. It has been brought up many times in many different places and there has not only been no action, there hasn’t even been an acknowledgement that we have even been heard.


    Sorry to use this thread for a rant but I get nothing otherwise.

  • Leah
    January 05 2016, 08:21AM

    Looks like an awesome work environment, but…. Could you pppplllllleeeaaaasssee work on including email hosting and domain transfers? I’d love to have everything all together instead of two lots of hosting fees.

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