In this podcast episode, we discuss how to customize your store using apps without breaking the bank. Our featured guest on the show is Mohammad Hashemi, co-founder at Gadget.
Topics discussed in this episode:
- How your business can customize your store using apps without breaking the bank.
- Ways Gadget is particularly beneficial for projects that involve back-end data security, stability, and large volumes of data.
- When using this service, it allows businesses to skip the expensive and time-consuming set-up infrastructure phase.
- How the company provides customized solutions with various templates as a starting point to reduce the cost and time of development.
01:27 Introduction to the Show and Today's Topic
01:42 Guest Introduction:Mohammad Hashemi
02:19 Discussion on Shopify App Development
04:57 A Gadget Walkthrough
05:30 How Gadget Works
09:33 Who Uses Gadget
12:28 Onboarding and Pricing of Gadget
21:57 Mohammad Hashemi's Experience at Shopify
26:16 Closing Remarks and Contact Information
Links & Resources
About Our Podcast Guest: Mohammad Hashemi
Mohammad Hashemi is the co-founder and CEO of Gadget, a low code, Shopify app development platform that lets big enterprise brands and agencies customize their stores with app functionality without breaking the bank. Before founding Gadget, Mo spent years as a product executive at various tech companies, primarily focused on fintech, and platforms. He worked at Shopify for five years, where he started and led the Shopify Money product team, building or leading products like Shopify Payments, Shop Pay, checkout and more. When he's not working, Mo is an adventurous traveler and hiker. He and his wife are always looking for new corners of the world.
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Claus Lauter: [00:00:00] This is episode 264 of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Today I'm joined by Mohammad Hashemi, co-founder at gadget.dev, and we discuss how to customize your store using apps without breaking the bank. So let's dive right into it. But before we get started, a big thank you to our sponsors for supporting today's episode.
Have you heard about PartnerHero? They're experts in support on the e commerce industry, known for their outstanding team building skills. Their main pillars, quality, people, and culture makes them a great fit for your company. Learn more on partnerhero. com or click the link in the show notes. Are you feeling overwhelmed by marketing stress?
Say goodbye to pressure and meet your new secret weapon, a remote marketing assistant. Easily scale up your business, boost productivity, and reclaim your time. The game changer. Get your own marketing visit at half the cost. Visit smart minus eCommerce minus marketing.com and discover the magic. Check out the link in the show notes now.
is the eCommerce Coffee Break, a top rated Shopify Growth [00:01:00] podcast dedicated to Shopify merchants and business owners looking to grow their online stores. Learn how to survive in the fast changing e-commerce world. With your host Klaus Lauter and get marketing advice you can't find on Google.
Welcome to the
Claus Lauter: show. Hello, welcome to another episode of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Today, we want to find out how you can customize your store using apps without breaking the bank. Now, a lot of merchants out there, companies, brands out there are using developers and developers spend a lot of time.
reinventing the wheel to a certain degree so that can be avoided and we want to dive into the technical side of running a Shopify store much more than we usually do. And with that, I have Mo Hashemi with me. He's the co founder of GadgetDev. Mo is a Shopify developer by profession. Before funding Gadget, Mu spends years as a product executive at various tech companies, primarily focusing on FinTech and on platforms.
He worked at Shopify [00:02:00] for five years, where he started and led the Shopify money product team, building or leading products like Shopify payments, Shopify pay, checkout, and more. When he's not working, Mu is an adventurous traveler and hiker, and he and his wife are always looking for new corners of the world.
So let's welcome him to the show.
Mohammad Hashemi: Thank you for having me. How are you? I'm very
Claus Lauter: well. Well, let's dive right into it. Shopify development app development is a very technical thing and specifically bigger brands see a problem that the development cycle is just taking too long for various reasons. Talk me into it.
What's the problem there?
Mohammad Hashemi: So I think Shopify app development and frankly, like all web software development these days has gotten painfully slow and painfully expensive for a series of reasons. One, the teams that build them and the professions required to build this type of software just happen to be expensive.
They're very high in demand, a software developer. Costs a lot more per hour than, you know, a person who writes blog posts. That's just kind of the [00:03:00] reality. But on top of that, as people who've kind of been building software for decades. Most developers will admit that most of what they do day to day involves a series of kind of repetitive boilerplate steps that they have to go through as a result of the tools that are being used.
So, imagine you're going to construction sites to build brick buildings, but you show With sand instead of bricks. And that's kind of the reality of software development is like, we know we're building a brick building every day, and yet we show up with a bunch of tools that are sand and fire, and we spend six hours building bricks.
And then finally we get started on the building. And of course that someone has to pay for those hours building bricks. And so, why does this problem occur? It's because the tooling is disparate. There's a lot of tools that a developer uses to spin up a web app. There's a database to store your data. A front end to show nice user interfaces to your customer.
A back end to run your logic and keep [00:04:00] everything secure. All these disparate tools have to talk to each other in various ways, and they're just like, they were built independent of one another, and it's the developer who builds your web app that teaches them how to talk to each other appropriately every time.
And that's a bit broken, you know, if you're a Shopify app developer who wakes up every morning building Shopify apps, you should have a tech stack that understands what you do for a living and gives you the highest level components to build that as quickly, efficiently, and with all the best practices necessary.
And so that's the problem with software development is it's gotten expensive because the people who do it are pricey, but also the tools that are being used are a little antiquated, they don't capture the reality of the software that We all see when we leave our house. There's clear patterns to it and we just need better tools that let developers do it faster and that would bring the cost down for everyone and that's kind of the intent of Gadget.
Claus Lauter: as a developer, you're always sort of [00:05:00] in a cross line between the marketing department or whatever department is there and the store manager or whatever and time is precious because as I said, developers are expensive, they're scarce, you might have problems finding a good one. So you want to speed up the process and gadget.
dev. Solve that. I just went through your demo video and I'm not a developer, but, um, I have done many, many it projects over my professional life, and then even I can understand how it works for the listeners who haven't watched the demo yet. How does it work? Just walk me through the process. We
Mohammad Hashemi: have all of the different parts of a web app in our toolkits and they all know how to talk to each other with some best practices designed for e commerce.
So that's kind of the default starting point is like you just go to our website and you say I need a new Shopify app and you give it a name and instantly we boot up all of the infrastructure on the cloud for you. And typically just to kind of frame this like in a normal developer [00:06:00] environment you tell your developer to start a project usually that takes about a day.
Like just the booting up all of the infrastructure on all the various parts of the internet. You've now paid them for eight hours of work. In Gadget, they type in a name and boom, done. You pay them for a second of work. So that's kind of the starting point is zero setup infrastructure with all the best practices built by people who used to run Shopify Checkout.
So it can scale. On top of that, there's a connection to Shopify built in. So as soon as you boot up this infrastructure, instead of you building what developers would typically call an integration, We give it to them for free. They can just pick the data they need from any store that installs their app and Gadget will take on the burden of making sure that that data is present in their applications database.
They don't have to deal with. How do I integrate Shopify's API? There's all sorts of little technical challenges of like, if you try to, let's say it's a Shopify Plus store trying to send a million [00:07:00] orders to an ERP. Trying to get a million orders from Shopify in one shot is really, really tricky. These problems are kind of solved with Gadget, where it's like you want a million orders, here's a million orders.
You decide what to do with them, not how do I get them in my database in the first place. Like, that's not a unique problem. That's a, whatever you're building, you need the data in your database, leave that to us. Decide what to do after. So, zero setup infrastructure, zero integration, and then the, everything's kind of built with like, e commerce best practices.
And what I mean by that is like, Building an app for e commerce is different than building an app for Twitter. In e commerce, you're dealing with people's money. So, when an order takes place on a store, a product needs to be shipped. Within 24 hours, worst case scenario, disaster scenario, 48 hours. If you don't ship it, there's a consequence.
They go to their bank and they do a chargeback and you lose money. Because of the nature of, like, there's money movement and [00:08:00] whatnot, some of the work developers have to do to make their applications robust and robust. Very wildly from if I were building a Twitter app that was like displaying the latest tweets to my friends.
I'm not dealing with money. And so reliability and the practices that go into like, how do you really make sure you never miss an order? Like, being 99 percent accurate is very easy, being 100 percent accurate is incredibly hard. The difference between 99 and 100 is like many tens of hours of work for a developer and in e commerce that 1 percent difference is so important because you're dealing with money and so all these best practices of like we have a automated reconciliation system if Shopify goes down for an hour and doesn't Report the latest orders to all of its apps, which sometimes happens, Shopify goes down and doesn't send its apps a notification saying new order.
The app is responsible for checking for that. It's your responsibility as a [00:09:00] developer to make sure you never miss an order. That is built into Gadget. So all these like best practices that a developer will spend thousands of dollars building themselves, we give as a starting point. And then what they do is they take that starting point and they write code on top of that.
And that's what I mean by bricks and not sand. These are like higher level starting points that they can use to kind of compose their application a lot more quickly. And the net result for merchant is a cheaper build and cheaper maintenance too, because we actually scale the application as it grows up and down for you.
Claus Lauter: Who's your perfect customer? And obviously a smaller business, a small and medium enterprise, not necessarily they don't have their own developer. So who's
Mohammad Hashemi: using your tools? So we have three audiences. We have Shopify plus agencies are our biggest customers. They do customizations for Shopify plus merchants.
They're in the business of pumping out Shopify apps and a tool that can let them do two or three a day is very valuable to them. So really big Shopify plus [00:10:00] agencies. I think five or three a day. So of the top 10 in the Shopify ecosystem use Gadget exclusively and we're kind of working our way down the list.
That's our primary audience. Really big brands with in house developers. About 10 percent of Shopify Plus merchants are actually extremely big and they have developers in house and they are in the business of pumping out customizations on top of their store. They buy Gadget as well. And then more recently, as of two months ago, we started supporting public apps.
We used to only do custom apps, now we support public apps. And so some of the apps in the App Store are powered by Gadget. Rewind, which is a very big app in the Shopify App Store, they do backups. They launched a new set of products, a protection suite for alerting and other things that they added to their product.
All of those are built on Gadget. We are white label. What that means is you will never see our name anywhere. Kind of like Shopify. You'll never see their name anywhere. They're just behind the scenes powering a bunch of things. And [00:11:00] so, we're in the app store, but you'll never see Gadget. What you'll see is Rewind, or another app that's really popular, shoppable videos is, uh, Shoday.
Shoday is a Gadget app. But you'll never see our name, unfortunately. If you pay really close attention to the little bar under your browser, your Chrome browser, when you're using any Shopify app, sometimes you might see a gadget. dev show up there. And that's because it's talking to our database and our backend.
But other than that, you'll never see our name on any application. Okay. That's
Claus Lauter: funny that you mentioned show day. I think they were a guest on the
Mohammad Hashemi: show a while ago. Oh, are they? Yeah. So it is, uh, one of the more public gadget apps.
Claus Lauter: And now a quick break to thank the sponsors of today's episode. As a prominent player in the e commerce support arena, Partner Hero specializes in delivering personalized customer experience solutions.
With a clear focus on helping you not just meet but exceed your goals and requirements, they have become experts in e commerce support. Their commitment to tailoring solutions to your unique needs ensures that your support [00:12:00] experience is nothing short of exceptional. Partner Hero is more than a CX company.
They are your partner in success. Visit their website and learn more on partnerhero. com Are you feeling overwhelmed by marketing stress? Say goodbye to pressure and meet your new secret weapon, a remote marketing assistant. Easily scale up your business, boost productivity and reclaim your time. The game changer?
Get your own marketing wizard at half the cost. Visit smart ecommerce marketing. com and discover the magic. Check out the link in the show notes now. So, as a developer, what kind of skill set do you need to bring to get started with Gadget. dev?
Like, the Gadget Framework makes the back end part really simple. And so if all you have are theme developers, and this is why, again, Shopify Plus agencies like it. There's a lot of Shopify theme agencies. That have realized like, Hey, we actually can pick up this tool and get into app development as well without the need to hire back end developers or infrastructure developers.
Mohammad Hashemi: skills. You can try it out. One of my colleagues who is not a developer, he did like a two month bootcamp. He can get quite far with Gadget.
Quite far. He can build full applications with Gadget after his two month bootcamp. Give me an idea on
Claus Lauter: what's the cost and time savings by using Gadget compared to sort of the traditional [00:14:00] way.
Mohammad Hashemi: It's very project dependent, I would say like anywhere between two to ten times. And so if your project is very back end heavy, where Gadget really shines, so like, let's say you came to me and said, I'm a Shopify Plus Merchant, I have ten million orders, and I need an application that generates ten million PDF invoices and emails them to the customers.
That application, while it sounds really big because of the numbers, Gadget would really do well there and shine because most of that problem is infrastructure. How do I move large volumes of data? So in that type of project, Gadget will speed you up at least 10x. If your project is more like I just need a little bit of data in the back end, but I need this really complicated design.
It's a design project. Then Gadget will help make it faster by two X. So it kind of depends on like how back end heavy it is. And the more [00:15:00] the project involves a back end data security, large volumes of data moving back and forth, the more valuable Gadget gets and the less the project requires back end data security and stability than, you know.
Gadget will be valuable, but not 10 times faster, maybe two times faster. So it's a little bit project dependent. But for things like connect Shopify to an ERP, connect Shopify to my tax provider, connect Shopify to my gift card provider. That's where gadgets like 10x faster because most of that is just backend data shuttling between two systems.
Claus Lauter: Okay. I see on your website, you also provide templates. I think that will speed up the process even more. What kind of templates do you have?
Mohammad Hashemi: So we're actually revamping all of them. The agencies now tell us which projects they do over and over again. And so we're trying to create templates for the common projects agencies do, because that would bring the cost of the project down for everybody.
The agency will do it faster. The merchant will get it cheaper. So the ones we've heard of [00:16:00] so far, and I would love feedback from your community as well. If your merchants are like, these are the templates you need to build. I will make sure they get built. But so far we have a quiz template. So if you're familiar with like Octane AI, take a quiz, recommend a product.
It's one of the most common custom apps we've seen where enterprise brands want to build their own specific version. That maybe takes the data, sends it to Klaviyo, or enriches it using a third party API. It's not the base Octane AI version. We have a template for that. And what an agency will do is like, if a customer says, Hey, I need to build a quiz app.
Like, great. Gadget. dev, fork the template. I have a starting point, which is a working quiz app that doesn't look great. Like the front end is not designed yet, but the back end is functional. And then your project cost is half as much because they're just doing a front end for you, not a whole back end from scratch.
So templates are going to be these base features that we think merchants ask for agencies to [00:17:00] customize for them a lot. And then the idea here is the agency can now offer merchants a huge reduction in price if it happens to be a gadget template because they can save so much time just taking our base as a starting point.
So we're going to do quiz. We're going to do one checkout extension. for Europe, where we check the tax ID of every single one of your customers and validate the VAT ID and tag the order as VAT valid or invalid, just like another sample app we see a lot. We're going to do shipping discount on checkout, like a little checkout extension, shipping discounts.
And all of this is editable in code. So you can also take ours and change it and then sell it to your customers. And there's a bunch more. I think there's about 10 or 15. There's like a sales report dashboard. You put in what you expect your sales to be this month. It sends Slack notifications to you saying congratulations.
You hit your goals. We're going to offer all of these on the app store for free. [00:18:00] So if a merchant wants the base version without customization, go to the gadget templates store, which is not live yet on the Shopify app store and just download it and it's free forever. But if ever you see something in there and you're like, I kind of wish it was slightly different.
Then you go to gadget. dev slash experts and you hire one of those people and say I have one of these gadget templates I want it customized can you do it at a cheap price and they customize it for you so that's what templates is going to look like this new revamped edition and it's going live in anywhere between three to five weeks so we're going to make some big announcements around it too and I encourage merchants to use our apps freely and give us feedback and also We're not a merchant facing company.
We don't talk to Shopify brands, but always love feedback. So if you folks have templates, you would want to see. I'll probably find where this podcast is hosted and read the comments every once in a while to see if anyone dropped any suggestions for us. Okay,
Claus Lauter: let's [00:19:00] talk about the pricing. So developers agencies working with you, what do they need to
Mohammad Hashemi: calculate?
Developer pricing is usually, it's called pay as you grow. Which means you pay nothing if your app does nothing, and you pay a lot if your app does a lot. So it kind of scales with API calls, which is a computer running your logic, essentially. So we charge based on how much work a computer has to do to serve your app.
We calculate it in hours, and then we bill you for the hours. And we also charge you based on how much data we're storing in our database every month. So an app can cost zero dollars, an app can cost thousands of dollars. It really kind of varies based on size. Agencies and developers in general are very familiar with this pricing.
And so they kind of know how to translate this for the merchants. And frankly, this is how pricing works on all of the big cloud providers, Google, Amazon, Bursell, Netlify, wherever you go. The [00:20:00] developer pricing is based on how much computer resources are being consumed. And so if your app, if it's like a bursty, it goes up in November, I pay a thousand dollars, but in December it goes back to zero, that's exactly what your billing gadget would look like.
It's based on what you use every month, not a fixed monthly price.
Claus Lauter: Yeah. How can developers agency get in contact with you and how does the onboarding process look like?
Mohammad Hashemi: So right now we're We always joke that our product's not even finished, and we're very proud of the fact that people are willing to pay a lot of money for it, but we're still scrambling to finish the product.
So we don't actually do very much marketing. It's all word of mouth, and all of our customers are organic. So agencies tell other agencies they find us, and we kind of give them a demo, and if they like the product, they use it. How do we onboard them? Agencies of different sizes, of course, are kind of different.
There's a couple of plans on our website, but we have a few others for agencies, and depending on whether [00:21:00] they need support or not, we have two offerings. The one without support, they just use Gadget as they like, and they usually put in their customer's credit card to pay for it once the app is done. We have another version of our pricing with support, which a lot of the agencies like, and that includes onboarding.
So when your agency signs up, we do a one hour training session on all of the concepts. You don't have to read our docs for a day. You can just listen to us for an hour. And then we do pair programming hours. So, we're a bunch of ex Shotify engineers ourselves. We know the Shotify API inside out. We know Gadget Inside Out, and so if your developer gets stuck on a project, they can call us for a pair programming session, and one of our solutions engineers shows up on the call, okay, what's wrong with your code?
Let's try to troubleshoot it and help fix it. So agencies choose. Do they want that support, or do they want to figure everything out themselves? And they can.
Claus Lauter: Before we started the call, you mentioned that not only [00:22:00] were working with Shopify for a couple of years, but also you were reporting directly to Toby Lutges.
So that means you were in the
Mohammad Hashemi: core of the business. Yeah, I actually reported to Harley Finkelstein and then because I was on the product side of Shopify product effectively reports to Toby. Toby is very involved in product. And yeah, my role there was all of the financial products. So Shopify payments was when I was very young, my first product shop pay.
And then afterwards I kind of became a leader within the company and I had a team. And they built things like Shopify capital, Shopify checkout, checkout API, and a lot of the backend infrastructure for powering Shopify checkout. Which is why we feel very confident in building a company like Gadget.
We've spent a lot of time, many many years, sweating some of the nastiest, biggest flash sales on the internet. And that's given us the confidence that we know how to build a scalable development [00:23:00] framework that we can host and run for everybody. That experience was very instrumental in Giving us the necessary skills to start gadget.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, no, I think that's a really good background in running what you do before we come to the end of the coffee break today. Is there anything that you want to share with the listeners that we haven't covered
Mohammad Hashemi: yet? I think what I would share is maybe my hope. Of a future in the Shopify ecosystem for Shopify plus merchants.
That is also great for me selfishly, but I think also great for them. One of the reasons we picked Shopify as the first ecosystem to launch gadget, cause this problem of software being slow happens everywhere. And we're going to expand beyond Shopify. But one of the first reasons we picked it is. In Shopify, there's this really interesting dynamic where you start off at zero sales and you discover this amazing platform that gives you everything you want and it's so perfect and it's only 29.
And you grow and you grow and you grow and you [00:24:00] grow and you get to a million to two million in sales and all of a sudden, some of the opinions of the amazing platform are no longer so amazing. The way you want to do fulfillment is slightly different, but now it's slightly different times a million. You know, when it was slightly different times, five orders, you didn't care, now you really care because it's annoying you.
And you're stuck in this position of like, do I go to the app store and try to find an app? I can't find the perfect app because usually these problems are internal. They're like, my company wants to do order fulfillment this way. And there is no app that is only built for my company. So you get disappointed that there's nothing on the app store and then you're stuck with the worst debate.
Do I hire a developer and pay a lot for custom software? Or do I live with this frustration? And the status quo is typically you live with enough of the frustrations, and then one day there's enough of them [00:25:00] that you decide it's time to buy an ERP, like NetSuite or Oracle, and to me that is a tragedy. The only reason people reach for these really antiquated products that are insanely expensive is because building custom software is insanely expensive.
If you could solve your small issues as your business grows with custom software, for a reasonable price, you would not end up buying NetSuite for 2, 000, 000 a year after 10 years of frustration. So my hope for a future with Gadget in the Shopify ecosystem is one where merchants now have a viable third option.
That's not. NetSuite, it's not expensive custom software, but it's actually custom software at a price point that makes it so that every time you have a problem, you go, okay, gadget expert, someone built this for me, but I only have 4, 000, not 40, 000. And I believe that our product will [00:26:00] hopefully allow for this someday.
So I'm hoping that by planting the seed, people will start to think about their needs a bit differently as they arise as their businesses grow.
Claus Lauter: Yeah, makes perfect sense. I think professional software development should be affordable to every merchant out there, not only for the very big companies. Where can people find out more about you guys?
Mohammad Hashemi: Gadget. dev, D E V, is our website. We have a very active Discord community. It's all a bunch of developer nerds. So if you join in, you're going to see code flying around and people using magic words that mean nothing in English, but you're more than welcome to join our community anyways. And I am very active on Twitter, so if you find me on Twitter, my handle is HashemiTO, so at HashemiTO.
You can always DM me on Twitter, and I'm usually very good about responding to everybody.
Claus Lauter: Excellent. I will put the links in the show notes and you just want to click away. Well, thanks so much for giving us an overview on how to make software development much easier and more affordable. And I hope a lot of people will check it out.
Thanks so much. [00:27:00] Hey, Klaus here. Thanks for joining me on another episode of the e commerce coffee break podcast. Before you go, I'd like to ask two things from you. First, please help me with the algorithm so I can bring more impactful guests on the show. It will make it also easier for others to discover the podcast.
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Have a good one. Before you leave, don't forget to visit the sponsor of today's episode. Are you feeling overwhelmed by marketing stress? Say goodbye to pressure and meet your new secret weapon, a remote marketing assistant. Easily scale up your business, boost productivity and reclaim your time. The game changer?
Get your own marketing wizard at half the cost. Visit smart ecommerce marketing. com and discover the magic. Check out the link in the show notes now. Have you heard about PartnerHero? They're experts in support on the e commerce industry, known for their outstanding team building skills. Their [00:28:00] main pillars, quality, people, and culture makes them a great fit for your company.
Learn more on partnerhero. com or click the link in the show notes.
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