Teespring story has all the flavors of hope, persistent trials, rejections, retirals, and finally, the much-longed-for success. The company is an on-demand merchandise supply platform. This company was ideated in 2012 with a crowdfunding event forming the premise. What happened was that a famous bar that was near to the college of this company’s founders Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton, was closing. So, to commemorate this bar, they crowdfunded T-shirts.
The idea to expand it on a larger scale and with more conscious efforts seemed doable to the duo. With more people liking the idea, they decided to participate in the Y Combinator startup accelerator program that contributed significantly to its speedy ascend.
The Tough Times
Teespring shirts were the result of brainwork and efforts of many people who pitched in design ideas, and the model of sharing profit amongst all the entities involved actually rose the T-shirt price by a considerable factor. However, the lack of production facility and resources generated output that could not justify the hefty price tag leading to people shying away from the brand sooner.
At the management front, all seemed fine at the top level, but the real story beneath the surface was quite contrary. Teespring started the concept of providing a platform to T-shirt and other merch sellers who had a purpose behind the production.
These sellers who approached the company were enriched in terms of design ideas but were indeed not prepared for the bulk orders or has no know-how of quality and control methods in the production process. So, the tough times began sooner than anticipated within three years of inception of the startup.
Main problems faced were:
- Poor leadership that ultimately saw lots of changes happening at CEO and top executives level.
- Too much dependence on Facebook ads hit back the company profits as the promise of delivery was yet to be fulfilled
- Immediate downfall in valuation from whooping $650 million to meager $11 million.
- Inclusion of a limited number of sellers that translated into more delivery failures, higher production and promotion cost, and ultimately customer dissatisfaction.
Making a Comeback
The completion of three years in business caused the substantial burn, which could not be made up by the profitability focused approach which they concentrated upon a bit late. So, the time was to restructure the capital and also to search for better and more relevant platforms than Facebook.
All of this started in 2017 in full flow with the help of the Boosted Network suite, YouTube influencer marketing, and correction of design ideas to keep the controversies at bay helped the company achieve the status it enjoys today.
At present, the company is selling not only T-shirts but about hundreds of other merch that also do the job of propagation of a cause or idea. The company, as we speak today, is a small business but with superior numbers to be proud.
Learning from the Teespring success story is that the generous start is not the promise of sustainable success. The company has to be ready to respond to the changes or to have a critical view of the structured capital- as well as leadership-wise to become a popular, sellable, and ultimately successful brand.
Business Model of Teespring
Teespring crowdfunded their first line of T-shirts cashing the emotions of people, albeit unknowingly. After adopting an organized approach, they started supporting people with campaign ideas and made the causes the design base of the merch.
Campaign creators use this platform to showcase their designs, tell their story, and to market their merchandise.
Teespring dropships the orders and also earns through ads space that it sells to its users for promoting the product. Its business model is called growth hacking in technical terms.
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