Seagram’s 19th century whiskey distillery has found a new tenant in Canadian tech wunderkind Shopify. Located in the thriving technology community of Waterloo, Canada, Shopify’s newest office is meant to inspire its people to think way, way outside the box.
“I think one of the most important things we are doing is creating environments to work in which are simply surprising,” explained Tobias Lütke, Shopify’s CEO and cofounder.
“You want to do your environment justice–it’s very hard to be in this space, looking around, seeing all this and having a small discussion about unnecessary things. It’s kind of too inspiring, so there is power in this environment. You would feel disappointed in yourself if you would spend 45 minutes talking about something that doesn’t matter.”
“Creativity is important and thinking big is something that ought to be done” – Shopify Co-Founder and CEO Tobias Lütke
Shopify’s recently minted team in Waterloo, branded as ‘Shopify Plus’, is primarily a sales team for the e-commerce platform’s enterprise services, something that until now has been a missing piece of the tech landscape in the area.
“We have this untapped giant pool of people who aren’t being recruited because they don’t code,” said Shopify Plus general manager Loren Padelford, “We’re shifting this community to become a hotbed of sales talent.”
The Waterloo team currently consists of about 160 people, though in little over a year there will be 300 developers, designers and sales teams working out of the historic space. Much like Shopify’s brick and beam masterpiece in Toronto, staff are treated to a wealth of perks designed to both keep people happy, but also keep them focused.
The new spaces offers catered breakfast and lunch, yoga room, 5 separate well-stocked kitchens plus its own bar suspended within the distillery warehouse and pouring local brews from the built-in taps. The walls are adorned with COO Harley Finkelstein’s famous ‘Hustle’ mantra along with other company slogans such as “Get Shit Done” and “Act Like An Owner”, all important sentiments that Shopify seeks and fosters in its teams.
“We try to create environments which surprise people enough so they are constantly reminded that creativity is important and thinking big is something that ought to be done. We’ve managed to pull this off in office towers, but there is no way to do it as well as in a distillery. This is completely next-level stuff.”