Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism.
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); } //

Bold founders, from left, Yvan Boisjoli, CEO, Jason Myers, VP Growth, Stefan Maynard, CBO, and Eric Boisjoli, CTO in their Winnipeg head office, Jan. 15, 2019.

JOHN WOODS/The Globe and Mail

When Yvan Boisjoli and his three co-founders set out to build an e-commerce app company nine years ago, their success was so tied to online-commerce platform Shopify Inc. they initially named their startup Shappify.

Now, their Winnipeg-based Bold Commerce is shifting its focus beyond the Shopify universe, following a year of accelerated growth for e-commerce providers during the pandemic. “We’ve expanded onto other platforms so we’re becoming a full-rounded e-commerce solutions provider,” said Mr. Boisjoli, Bold’s chief executive officer, in an interview. Those include Shopify rivals BigCommerce and WooCommerce and, increasingly, large retailers that typically don’t use Shopify, which primarily targets small- and medium-sized merchants.

“A big focus will be building our brand, our story, and making sure we’re discoverable everywhere,” Mr. Boisjoli said. “We love the Shopify platform; we want to continue building that relationship, but we think we’re providing something different.”

Story continues below advertisement

On Tuesday, Bold, which makes apps that enable e-commerce retailers to add features to online checkouts, announced it had raised $35-million in venture capital led by OMERS Ventures and backed by past investors Whitecap Venture Partners and Round 13 Capital. All three institutions are Canadian-based funds. It’s the biggest financing of a Canadian tech company led by OMERS Ventures since 2018, and follows its 2013 financing of Shopify, 18 months before that company’s May, 2015, initial public offering.

“Shopify showed OMERS there’s a massive opportunity in e-commerce,” said OMERS Ventures partner Laura Lenz. “This is the next infrastructure layer that [e-commerce] brands are needing.”

Bold (legally named Bold Innovation Group Ltd.) started out as four people – Mr. Boisjoli, his brother Eric, Stefan Maynard and Jay Myers – building apps as a side hustle. Their first app in 2012 enabled Shopify merchants to upsell customers at checkouts, for example, offering shoe polish to someone buying boots.

Today, online merchants use Bold apps to entice repeat customers to subscribe for replenishment orders, to track loyalty points, recommend products and to ensure prices and promotions are consistent between online and in-store offerings. Bold has 21 apps on Shopify’s app store for its merchants.

While Shopify has specialized in offering core commerce functionality - selling itself as the operating system for merchants – it has relied on third-party developers such as Bold to offer more specialized features. Many of its partners have thrived, raising large financings of their own, including payments processor Stripe, e-mail marketing specialist Klaviyo, Inc. and instalment payment financier Affirm Holdings Inc., which went public last week ”Shopify is a great platform and we were fortunate enough to build on a rocket ship,” Mr. Boisjoli said.

But the 400-employee Bold has also increasingly worked with larger retailers and rivals to Shopify in the past three years to integrate into their e-commerce offerings.

As a result, Bold, with more than 90,000 e-commerce customers globally including Vera Bradley, Harry Rosen and Pharrell Williams’s Humanrace skincare store, saw gross merchandise volume ordered through its customers’ websites reach US$1-billion in 2020, a 140-per-cent spike over 2019. Bold’s revenues have climbed by 50 per cent in each of the past two years, Mr. Boisjoli said.

Story continues below advertisement

He added that Bold has enabled Shopify to improve the competitiveness of its Shopify Plus offering to large retailers, such as Staples Canada. “Staples relies heavily on Bold [for features including pricing promotions and curbside pickup] and couldn’t have gone to Shopify without Bold,” he said.

As Shopify and its partners expand, some observers wonder if they could become competitors. “If you looked [ahead] one, three, five years, there’s a potential that some of these players are on a collision course with each other,” said National Bank Financial analyst Richard Tse.

Shopify has had tensions with app providers on its platform in at least one previous case. In 2019 Mailchimp and Shopify severed ties after the former, an e-mail marketing service provider, partnered with Square to create e-commerce landing pages. A Mailchimp spokesperson told TechCrunch at the time it wouldn’t back down from that initiative “just because Shopify sees it as a competitive threat. We want people to have choices.”

Mr. Boisjoli acknowledged Bold has in the past launched products “that could have been seen as competitive to Shopify,” including a product-discounting app. Bold is “in a unique position in that our technology literally is the checkout, with the ingredients to power any type of experience a brand can imagine – anywhere” whether on a merchant’s website or social-media channels.

Asked if Bold could find itself competing with Shopify, Mr. Boisjoli said: “Hopefully there’s a long road here where we’re great partners and, as we continue to move into the enterprise space, hopefully that continues to strengthen the business. When we talk about our expansion, I’m not sitting here saying I’m going to go up against Shopify … [but] I don’t think we live in a world where we’re not going to continue innovating because we’re scared Shopify is going to come into the space. Obviously I’d hate to go up against Shopify if I didn’t have to.”

“Our partner ecosystem ensures merchants have access to critical commerce technology to help start, market and grow their businesses,” Antonio Silva, Director of Partnerships with Shopify, said in an e-mailed statement to The Globe. “Three out of four Shopify merchants have used a third-party app to help run day-to-day operations, and the Shopify App Store now hosts over 5,300 publicly available apps. Entrepreneurship on Shopify can take many forms, including building a successful SaaS business within our partner ecosystem that helps power the future of commerce.”

Story continues below advertisement

Your time is valuable. Have the Top Business Headlines newsletter conveniently delivered to your inbox in the morning or evening. Sign up today.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

Follow topics related to this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies