Lowering Barriers to Entrepreneurship

By leveraging Shopify's Ecosystem, we developed a global mentorship community that provides health & wellness support to new merchants breaking into e-commerce.


During my time at BrainStation, I had the opportunity to participate in a 24 hour hackathon hosted by Shopify x BrainStation. We were given the challenge to help Shopify build a digital solution that helps make entrepreneurship more accessible. I worked collaboratively with fellow students from other disciplines in UX design, web development and digital marketing. My main contributions were conducting UX research, ideation, wireframing and prototyping.


Academic Hackathon


24 hours


UX/UI Designer


Figma, Adobe Photoshop



the team





UX Designers

web developers

data scientist

digital marketer


Due to time constraints, the human-centred design process had to be condensed to be more agile in order to present an MVP within 24 hours.
Our additional approach was to collaborate, communicate and collectively tackle the project to make the 24 hours as fun as possible. All ideas were welcomed to help effectively solve the challenge under such a tight time crunch.

the solution

wellness community for new entrepreneurs

  • New merchants feeling low in their entrepreneurial journey can find emotional peer support in Shopify's new Community feature.
  • Merchants can select available peers based on their personal story, relatability and needs, and have 1-on-1 video calls for a personalized experienced (not a bot!).
  • At the end of the call, merchants can give feedback and rate their experience to provide Shopify with data to analyze for efficacy or further research.
  • With adequate peer and mentorship support, this solution helps new merchants feel a lot less lonely and intimidated in their entrepreneurial journey.

The Challenge

Merchants have access to the robust Shopify Ecosystem, which include a network of partners (entrepreneurs, educators, influencers, content creators, consultants) that entrepreneurs have access to. So Shopify asked us -

"How might Shopify better leverage its Ecosystem to make entrepreneurship more accessible than
ever before?"

To gain a better understanding of the challenge, we conducted research into existing barriers that exist for entrepreneurs. We discovered that one of the key difficulties amongst entrepreneurs is the lack of mental health support, especially since evidence suggests that entrepreneurs are at a higher risk of burnout due to loneliness and social isolation. (Harvard Business Review, 2018)

Further research into this problem space uncovered the following insights -
Entrepreneurs who are female, and whose businesses are in the growth or early stages are more likely to report mental health issues due to isolation and gender-based barriers.

Canadian Mental Health Association
This led to us to look into Shopify's existing support system within their Community and we discovered a total of 0 community groups centred around mental health or emotional support (Mar 2022). There is an opportunity here for Shopify to provide better resources to support female merchants in their early growth stages to reduce business failure. We decided to revisit the challenge to ensure we're on track and redefine our HMW statement.

How might we help new female merchants in early-growth stages gain peer support in order to decrease dropout rates? 

THE PERSONA + user journey

The Creator

After consulting with the team to ensure we're all on board, we moved onto developing a persona and user stories to help identify a design intervention that could potentially bring our merchant user the most value.

Our proto-persona is Amy Carrington, a 28-year-old small business owner who's been feeling lonely and defeated with the challenges of being an entrepreneur. She's looking for a supportive mentor that she can relate to and express her struggles with. Meet Amy -

Finding Opportunities

With a better understanding of our persona Amy’s motivations and pain points, we researched the Shopify app and website to determine the opportune moment to intervene with our solution in her user journey.

Considering Shopify does not have a designated Community phone app feature yet, and Amy will likely be regularly accessing her phone to source social media and sales content, we decided to build our solution into the Shopify phone app. This is under the assumption that we can modify the Shopify app to accommodate for the new feature.

USER STORIES + Task flow

Product Functionality

With the platform established, we developed user stories centred on the Amy's needs to build out product functionality for the task flow.

user stories

As a new female merchant, I want to find a good emotional support system so that I have a safe space to share my thoughts and worries.


As a new female merchant, I want to find merchants/peers in my demographic with similar stories so that they could help me with my emotional struggles as a entrepreneur.


As a new female merchant, I want to video chat or call a fellow peer so that I can build a more personalized relationship.


As a young female merchant, I want to be able to learn more about a peer and their story, so I know they're relatable to my personal journey.

Primary task
Arrow Right

As a new female merchant, I would like to find a relatable peer to share my entrepreneurship journey with so that I feel supported..


Proposed Solution: The task flow allows Amy to find emotional peer support within the community based on her needs. She'll be able to video call the selected peer for personalized 1-on-1 time. Post-call, Amy will be prompted to rate her experience which allows Shopify to analyze the results of the call to collect data and determine the efficacy of the solution or gather further research.

At this point of the process, we walked through the task flow and planned features for each screen with the developers to ensure we can execute our solution. We also wanted a better understanding of their limitations and gather their feedback on how they'd like to move forward for next steps.

UI ideation + WIREFRAMES

Branding + Design

We implemented Shopify's Polaris design system and referenced their current app and web interface design to pull ideas to develop our app solution.

Since Shopify already has an existing web community site, we integrated the same information architecture into our app design. The UX team worked together to finalize the features for each screen based on the task flow and my teammate developed the following set of sketches.

Considering developers required time to build out each individual screen, I started on the low-fidelity screens to pass to developers so they could start working on the features ASAP.

high-fidelity prototype

The Finish Line

Due to the time crunch, I jumped straight into working on high-fidelity and refined all the details. During this time, any and all changes (including SVG icon exports) were being communicated to the developers to ensure they were on the same page and features were built properly. Thanks to a very collaborative and hardworking team, we were able to cross the finish line with an MVP.

the FINAL prototype

The Shopify health and wellness community feature provides new merchants with adequate emotional peer support as they embark on their often isolated entrepreneurial journey.

key learnings



Communication, was by far, the hardest yet the simplest way to get the project moving in the right direction (especially remote!). There were moments where there were a lot of confusion (especially in the beginning when we were still getting a sense of everyone's roles in the process), but by speaking up and asking questions, we were able achieve clarity and work towards a common goal. The other half of it is just being willing to listen, and luckily, I was blessed with a very good team that worked well in this regard.


Building a solution within 24-hours is extremely limiting (huge understatement!). There were so many moments where we had to throw the UX process out the window just to move ahead. We had to make assumptions instead of diving into primary research. We had to move forward with our wireframes without being able to test for usability. We had to pass our wireframes off to developers instead of taking the time to refine features. Our app solution is not perfect, but I'm just proud we were able to create a decent MVP within 24 hours!

You've reached the end of this case study - thank you for spending the time. If you found any of it interesting, you might find it even more interesting to connect with me directly so I can walk you through my design process. There are also other insightful case studies listed below that may pique your interest. Have a great day!

Asset Credits: Design Library - Shopify Polaris | Icons - Shopify, Material Design | Photos - Unsplash | Mockups - Figma Community: Luong Nguyen

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