- Mat De Sousa’s two Shopify apps generate nearly $30,000 in net revenue a month.
- He shares his insights about building Shopify apps with a growing audience of developers.
- De Sousa said the community’s helpfulness was his favorite part about Shopify.
Mat De Sousa, an entrepreneur in France, runs two Shopify apps, WideBundle and WideReview, that together generate nearly $30,000 in net revenue a month. Now that he’s found success, he shares his business tips in his newsletter and in tweet threads that get shared widely among the e-commerce-software community.
But De Sousa’s Shopify-app career was not an overnight success.
He had to kill his first three app attempts, one of which he was forced to shut down when Shopify stopped allowing for custom tech solutions at checkout, he told Insider. In 2017, he even became convinced that building Shopify apps wasn’t for him and started working on more traditional software.
But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit three years later, he realized how much he had learned about coding in his time away from the Shopify App Store, he said. He decided to launch apps that would help merchants grow their sales, but he also wanted to help other developers stand out among the more than 7,000 available Shopify apps, while building a community around the process of creating third-party apps.
De Sousa launched the product-bundling app WideBundle and the customer-reviews app WideReview in 2020. Both continue to grow, he said. WideBundle allows merchants to offer products at various discounts depending on the amount of items a customer is buying. WideReview gives merchants the ability to display customer reviews more prominently on product-listing pages. Both operate on a monthly subscription model, with WideBundle costing $20 a month and WideReview costing $10.
WideBundle has about 2,500 users, while WideReview has about 250, De Sousa said.
He hired two developers to work on WideReview but still does the development work for WideBundle. He also hired a customer-support representative and someone to work on marketing.
These days, he shares his best tips for launching apps on the Shopify App Store with a growing audience on Twitter. He also has a newsletter with about 600 subscribers.
“What I always say today is just that I want to be the guy I wanted to meet when I started,” De Sousa said.
I’ve built 5 Shopify Apps. And it makes me $340K+ per year.
So if you’re interested in Shopify Apps
Here is my perfect process for launching a new app 🧵👇
— Mat De Sousa (@DsMatie) July 11, 2022
On a website he recently built just for this purpose, he shares dozens of tips, including: “Make changes to the images you use on your listing and see how it impacts your conversion rate,” and, “Create a clear and good onboarding. Shopify App users usually install many apps, so they don’t have time to figure out how your app works.”
But one of his biggest pieces of advice is to make sure your app idea is uniquely suited to fit a very specific merchant problem.
De Sousa said he did that by engaging with merchants in Facebook communities, in Slack channels Shopify hosts for its partners, and at live e-commerce events.
“At some point, you will realize that they want something that doesn’t exist, or it doesn’t exist exactly the way they want,” he said. “You might find, like, two, three, four people having the same problem, and so that’s when you know that there is something you can build.”
“After you’ve built a very basic version of the app, keep engaging with the people whose problems you were trying to solve with it,” De Sousa said.
He added that app developers should ask early users to make suggestions for how to improve it and to put them in touch with others who might be interested in trying it.
‘Everyone was helping each other’
De Sousa is one of many entrepreneurs looking to build a community around the process of creating third-party apps for use by Shopify merchants. Others, like Dennis Hegstad and Gil Greenberg, have attracted followers by building their businesses out in the open and tweeting their takeaways while they do it.
⚡️Here’s a quick demo of a “true” one-click upsell in Shopify’s checkout using @CheckoutBlocks checkout extensions.
It detects if there’s a more expensive variant and offers the customer to upgrade. Add a discount and 🚀
Can’t wait to share more soon! pic.twitter.com/aQaTbM8muH
— gil greenberg (🛒,🗽) (@gilgNYC) July 19, 2022
momentum only stops when you stop being consistent
consistency is one of the most crucial parts of hitting your goal(s)
— dennis hegstad (@dennishegstad) July 17, 2022
That openness is part of what drew De Sousa back to Shopify, he said.
“Everyone was helping each other. Everyone wanted to build a business,” De Sousa said. “That was the first time I met people like this because usually I was alone in my room, doing my stuff, trying to make money with it, trying to build a business and everything, but I didn’t find a community that was that engaged, that wanted to help each other.”
Getting its third-party developers excited about building for its platform is a key strategy for Shopify. Many times throughout its history, the company has referred to its mission as “arming the rebels” against Amazon’s empire.
And the opportunities are huge for developers — Shopify has more than 1.75 million merchants using its platform, and the average merchant uses six apps to run their online store, the company previously told Insider. The better tools there are for merchants, the more sales merchants can convert and the better that Shopify does overall.
A recent thread by De Sousa was even retweeted by Shopify’s cofounder and CEO, Tobi Lütke, earlier this month.
“Having your work valued and highlighted by the founder of Shopify,” he said, “was an honor.”