Harley Finkelstein

Harley Finkelstein

Chief Operating Officer, Shopify | “Dragon” on Next Gen Den

Harley Finkelstein started from the ground up. To put himself through law school, he sold t-shirts using Shopify—an e-commerce platform that was relatively unknown at the time. That decision in 2005 ultimately led him to become Shopify’s Chief Operating Officer, where he helped transform the company into a global industry leader. Dubbed “Newsmaker of the Year” in 2013 for his success as an entrepreneur, and named in 2015 as a new “Dragon” for CBC’s Next Gen Den, Finkelstein lives by his personal entrepreneurial philosophy of “the hustle”: go hard, go fast, build the best, and execute.

Finkelstein started his first company as a 17-year-old student at McGill, when he bought a silkscreen press and was soon selling hundreds of shirts to his classmates. Three years later, he was creating promotional apparel for dozens of universities across Canada. Through this successful business, he met Tobias Lütke—the founder of Shopify. Lütke immediately recognized Finkelstein’s entrepreneurial passion, and invited him to join the company. Together, they grew Shopify into what quickly became the “rockstar” of Canada’s startup scene.

Shopify is now a publicly-traded company with more than 750 employees across four offices, and currently powers over 175,000 businesses in more than 150 countries, including Tesla Motors, Budweiser, Wikipedia, LA Lakers, the New York Stock Exchange, GoldieBlox, and many more.

In addition to his work with Shopify, Finkelstein is on the Board of the C100, and is an advisor to Felicis Ventures. He holds a combined Law and MBA degree from the University of Ottawa.


Disruption: The Future of Business

Harley Finkelstein speaks from the dugout. The Chief Platform Officer of e-commerce giant Shopify, he has a first-hand view of how change—usually in the form of technology—is disrupting every aspect of business.

In this compelling talk, Finkelstein shares his strategies when it comes to planning for your organization’s future in the realms of economy, retail, commerce, and entrepreneurship—all informed by his personal philosophy of “the hustle”: go hard, go fast, build the best, and win.

On The Hustle: Don’t Settle for Mediocrity

Harley Finkelstein believes the real path to success and upward mobility stems from merit  and an ability to better execute.

While with experience comes expertise, organizations shouldn’t focus solely on longevity criteria when evaluating team members, projects or your organization’s future.

The person or company with the best product, service, or offering will ultimately win. So hustle, execute and win!

The Future of Retail

The future of retail is not one where online and offline are separate — today, it’s all commerce.

Right now, 5% of retail sales are done online in Canada, and that’s going to grow very rapidly. Currently, we have brick and mortar and we have “click”.

Harley Finkelstein shows how the future is “brick and click” whereby retailers sell online and off-line.  Are you ready?

For Campuses: Textbook to Checkbook

Harley Finkelstein was an entrepreneur even while undertaking his studies. In this talk, he shares the lessons he learned when it comes to balance, networking, and the value of failure along the way.