TeeSpring story has all the flavors of hope, persistent trials, rejections, retirals, and the much-longed-for success (and then some). The company started as an on-demand merchandise supply platform in 2012, with a crowdfunding event forming the premise. When a famous bar near the college of the company’s founders, Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton, was closing, they crowdfunded T-shirts as merchandise.
With the success of this small-scale event, the idea to expand it on a larger scale and with more conscious efforts seemed doable to the duo. With other people liking their concept, the founders decided to participate in the Y Combinator startup accelerator program, which contributed significantly to their rapid growth in the future.
The Initial Tough Times
Teespring stood out with the brainwork and efforts of many people who pitched in design ideas, and while there was a sufficient amount of creative thinking, the operations part soon became a challenge. Lack of production facilities, complex logistics, and a hefty price tag on merchandise led to people shying away from the brand. Most of their printing vendors were not prepared for the bulk orders or had no know-how of quality and control methods in the production process. So, within three years of inception, the company was in trouble.
Main problems faced by TeeSpring were:
- Poor leadership led to a sizeable managerial restructuring
- Too much dependence on Facebook ads hit back the company profits as the promise of delivery was yet to be fulfilled.
- Downfall in valuation, from a whopping $650 million to a meager $11 million.
- Having a limited number of sellers caused more delivery failures, high production costs, and customer dissatisfaction.
Making a Comeback
By their third year in business, TeeSpring had already caused a substantial burn in their finances. They decided to restructure and focus their marketing efforts on more relevant promotional platforms. This meant shifting from Facebook to Youtube, Instagram, and even TikTok later on.
The changes started in 2017, starting with Boosted Network suites, YouTube influencer marketing, and the correction of controversial design ideas prevalent in the platform. The company began to sell not just T-shirts but hundreds of other merch. With the changes, creators started to use the platform to showcase their designs, tell their stories, and, most of all, market their merchandise. There was no need for large-scale external marketing, and Teespring only needed to concentrate on providing efficient dropshipping. As traffic increased, the company also started earning through ads space that it sold to its users to promote customer products. Its business model is called growth hacking in technical terms.
TeeSpring to Spring (Spri.ng) Rebrand
In 2021, TeeSpring took the dramatic step of rebranding their entire business to be more of a creator merchandise marketplace, even changing their name from TeeSpring to Spring (www.spri.ng) . Many of their original features remained, but the company shifted their user focus to creators or influencers in social media platforms such as Youtube, Twitch, Instagram, and TikTok. The rebrand also included additional features and merchandise, catering to a more creatively dynamic, popular, and premium space.
According to Spring CEO, Chris Lamontagne, the first solid step to moving to this approach was in 2018 when the then TeeSpring did an industry-first eCommerce collaboration with Youtube, where creators can add TeeSpring merchandise under their videos. The new changes worked, with the platform seeing a 135% increase in activity and over 450,000 verified creators by 2020. With such overwhelming support, the brand had no qualms about shifting their business model from content focused (TeeSpring) to creator focused segment (Spring).
Some of the new features of the Spring include:
- Creators can now create branded eCommerce stores within Spring with their own custom domain.
- While TeeSpring was more about physical products, Spring also allows selling downloadable products such as eBooks and even NFTs.
- As the quality of creators increases, the support provided also improves, with Spring now providing Dedicated Strategic Partner Managers, 24.7 chat support and personal design services.
Issues After TeeSpring to Spring Rebrand
Not everything went smoothly after the TeeSpring to Spring Rebrand though. In a 2022 article by Business Insider, it was said that many creators on the platform, including high-profile influencers like FaZe Clan and Moriah Elizabeth faced issues with delayed payments and poor-quality merchandise. The slow customer support was also criticized, even though this was one of the main improvements cited during the rebrand. Some of their new initiatives, such as NFT Play, also failed to get the desired traction.
As per the article, Spring’s focus on the creator economy overshadowed other essential aspects of the business. Some former employees blamed Spring’s problems on rapid growth and an over-reliance on automation.
Despite all this, CEO Chris Lamontagne in August 2022 addressed the delayed payouts, blaming a “technical issue” and promising to prevent it from happening again in the future. Though the much-hyped IPO didn’t happen, Spring continued to pursue partnerships with high-profile creators and expand its offerings beyond traditional merchandise. In November 2022, Spring moved on to the next phase of their story.
Amaze acquires Spring
In the latter half of 2022, Amaze Software Inc. stated in a press release that they have officially acquired Spring, for an undisclosed sum. The acquisition is stated to be aimed at accelerating Amaze’s ability to enable creator success by strengthening their leadership team and promoting the company to create “authentic, shoppable experiences” for its customers.
Amaze had already garnered popularity with creators for making beautiful landing pages and links-in-bio pages for social media.
Following the acquisition, executives from both companies will fill top roles at Amaze. The acquisition was spearheaded by Aaron Day, CEO of Amaze, and will continue to fulfill the role in the larger entity. Spring CEO Chris Lamontagne will serve as President of Amaze, while Annelies Jansen, former President and COO of Spring, will become Amaze’s Chief Business Officer. Laura Haines, Chief Product Officer, and Amelia Shepard, Chief Marketing Officer, will continue their leadership roles at Amaze.
So what has changed after the acquisition? As of now, everything has stayed the same, and both websites remain separate entities. You can follow our newsletter or bookmark our blog if you would like to get subsequent updates to this story.
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