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Solve your own problem, then help people like you.

August 8, 2017

How Shopify and thisopenspace’s founders went from helping themselves to supporting the retail brands of the future.

Over the last 3 years thisopenspace has gone from a brick and mortar location that enables makers and entrepreneurs to sell their products in Vancouver’s Chinatown to North America’s leading marketplace for brands to find authentic spaces to grow their business.

Most importantly thisopenspace’s history stems from our desire to solve our own problem, a lot like another Canadian startup we admire, Shopify. Here is a bit about how solving your own problems can help you and your company help others.

Last week we announced that we have teamed up with Shopify to make going from URL (ecommerce) to IRL (brick and mortar) easier for any brand. Today, we’re telling you how we got here.

thisopenspace supported The Weeknd pop-up powered by Shopify. Photo by: Shopify

Solve Your Problem Then Scale

Shopify started as a simple rails application built to help Tobi Lütke and Scott Lake sell snowboards online. They didn’t like the tools available to them and realized they could do better. As they scaled, they hired people with same point of view who also turned their side hustle into a business, like COO Harley Finkelstein. The product they built together now serves hundreds of thousands of brands and entrepreneurs in realizing their commerce dreams.

With thisopenspace the genesis story is similar, but starts offline. Yashar Nejati, thisopenspace’s co-founder and CEO, had started his own premium packaged food brand but struggled to find a space to create an experiential marketing campaign. Brokers weren’t interested in renting space for short term pop-ups at the time and it took time to understand how to work with landlords and realtors to build his brand offline. Over time he realized there were many other entrepreneurs and brands both big and small that suffered from the same problem.

Inside the “pre-construction” of thisopenspace’s first ever rotating pop-up shop.

Like Shopify, thisopenspace was inspired help entrepreneurs and brands help their businesses grow. Over time this lead to thisopenspace morphing into a marketplace of spaces that helps creatives bring their ideas to the world.

thisopenspace’s first space, The Playground in Vancouver’s Chinatown, is still one of the most popular spaces on on our marketplace, but we also support over thousands of hosts to help them get bookings from over guests that use thisopenspace to build their brand and tell their story.

We’ve helped brands ranging from emerging brands like Mary Young and Easy pop-up, host events, and grow their community through our spaces. In a lot of ways, these are some of the people we get the most excited to see thrive. We’ve also had the ability to work with brands we admire like Ikea, Casper and Everlane.

thisopenspace supported Everlane’s Day Market Pop-Up in NYC as captured by EggCanvas

A Natural Fit

Working with other startups to find synergies is something that often takes a bit of effort. With thisopenspace and Shopify, we were already working together before we had officially met. Shopify had been powering thisopenspace’s pop-ups for years, it just so happens that the brands that work with us are often Shopify merchants. We’ve both have independently supported brands such as Easy, The Weeknd, and Travis Scott amongst others.

thisopenspace host and guest, Alyssa Bertram, doubles as a Shopify merchant for her brand Easy.

We’re are excited to announce that thisopenspace and Shopify have teamed up to make it easier for each of their respective communities to get access to the tools they need to grow their business online and offline.

What this means for Shopify merchants

Shopify merchants will now be able to easily pop-up and plug in at dozens of retail locations across North America that are already outfitted with everything they need to start selling IRL.

Business that start online can now test offline, they can test new markets, and they can grow their business with foot traffic as well as web traffic. Shopify Merchants also have access to thisopenspace’s network of spaces with 10% off their space bookings.

What this means for thisopenspace Hosts and Guests

thisopenspace hosts that have their own retail space that they rent to brands for pop-ups are eligible to get a free POS that includes everything they need for brands to sell products from their shopify store in the space.

Guests can sign up to get a free card reader which will allow them to start selling IRL immediately from their smartphone whether they have their own pop-up store or are selling products in a market.


Dreaming of giving your brand the IRL treatment? Pop-up with thisopenspace and Shopify right here.

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