Shopify Alum Runs an Online Store and Earns $30,000 a Month on Biltong

  • Daniel Patricio launched his online store, Bull and Cleaver, while working at Shopify.
  • His business generates around $30,000 in monthly sales, according to screenshots reviewed by Insider.
  • He is one of many Shopify alumni who pursued entrepreneurship after leaving the company.

Daniel Patricio’s Shopify store, Bull and Cleaver, generates around $30,000 a month in sales of biltong, a South African-style beef jerky.

But direct-to-consumer commerce has decidedly humble origins; it started as a side hustle while Patricio was working on the product team at Shopify.

Patricio opened his store in 2015, a few years after his eight-year tenure at Shopify. He worked on products like the company’s Buy Button before spending four years as a marketing-focused product manager.

By October 2021, Bull and Cleaver had grown to the point that he decided to leave Shopify and run the side hustle full-time. The brand had just passed the million dollar mark in historic sales.

“I’ve always said, ‘I have a real business here, and it’s such a shame that I never gave it my all to grow it,'” he said.

Patricio is one of many Shopify alumni who have gone into entrepreneurship. Shopify encourages its employees to create their own stores to understand the challenges faced by merchants on the e-commerce platform.

Shopify also runs internal business contests and allows employees to spend up to $1,000 in business-related expenses per year to encourage entrepreneurship. Those expenses could include technology equipment, domain names, design fees, and sample products, a Shopify spokesperson previously told Insider.

Patricio said encouragement from Shopify management was key to his decision to launch Bull and Cleaver.

“I was in the product business, so it was important to have some empathy with the people we were building for,” Patricio said.

“It wasn’t like it was a sneaky scramble”

Bull & Cleaver Traditional Biltong Wrap and Plate

bull and cleaver

Selling biltong is also personal for Patricio; he grew up in South Africa and his father made biltong in the grocery store he owned.

Patricio’s family moved to Canada when he was a teenager, and biltong was hard to find in his new home country and almost impossible to buy online. He wanted to not only make it easier for South Africans in Canada to buy their favorite snack, but also expose new North American customers to something they may not have tried before.

“It’s an amazing product,” said Patricio. “It was high quality and I wanted to sell it in a way that I was proud and happy to show off.”

He decided to run ads on Facebook during the 2015 Rugby World Cup, during a match involving the South African national team. Sales quickly took off after that, and Patricio found himself working late into the night after his usual working hours.

He also encountered several challenges that would influence his career path at Shopify.

“The store became an inspiration for me to work on product marketing at Shopify because I had noticed a whole bunch of gaps where Shopify was absolutely not helping me,” he said.

This included working with some of the platform’s top marketing apps to improve their reporting to be more useful to merchants, as well as working on Shopify’s marketing integrations with Facebook, Google, Pinterest and TikTok.

All the while, he was getting business advice from business leaders like Craig Miller, former Chief Marketing Officer and Chief Product Officer of Shopify, and Satish Kanwar, Vice President of Product Acceleration at Shopify, who helped him. both encouraged to sue Bull and Cleaver.

“There were so many people you could learn from,” he said. “It wasn’t like it was a sneaky scramble.”

Patricio said the brand is now starting to see traction beyond South African immigrants like him. Bull and Cleaver recently launched new flavors — smokehouse, chili-lime, and garlic and herb — intended to appeal to a more American audience. It has also started selling starter packs and biltong slabs which Patricio hopes will help customers “understand what the product really looks like”.

“The keys to growth for us have been expanding the US market,” he said. “It was an exercise in keeping the steam train running.”


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