Ever had a really neat idea for a t-shirt, but no means of producing or selling them? So did Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton.
Back when the duo were attending Brown University about three years ago, the police raided and shut down their and their peers’ favorite local dive. Naturally, the two wanted to make a t-shirt to create awareness and rally students in the hope of keeping the bar open. They made a Facebook page for their idea, which racked up a ton of likes.
However, they didn’t have a lot of funds between them to produce the shirts without knowing how well they’d sell. So, Stites-Clayton and Williams then spent six hours creating a one-page website so people could pre-order the T-shirt. The site then went viral in the Brown community in less than 24 hours, receiving more visits than there were Brown students.
Unfortunately, the shirts did not keep the bar open. The website, however, did inspire the two to create Teespring, a sort of Kickstarter for t-shirts. It recently received another $35 million in venture capital funding to add to the $21 million in financing it had already garnered.
The idea behind Teespring is simple. It’s a site designed to eliminate the risk of having a bunch of T-shirts printed, only to have none of them sell. A user puts the design online, sets a price, and then starts taking pre-orders. They won’t print the shirts until the seller hits a minimum pre-order threshold.
As if the tens of millions of dollars in backing didn’t already indicate, the idea has quickly seized the interests of many. Teespring has already hit such a high volume that the minimum number of pre-orders can be as low as five. Hundreds of Teespring users have even been able to pull in six figures, and according to Williams, 10 users have already become millionaires through Teespring.
“It should be as easy to bring a product to market as it is to have a great idea,” said Williams. “The best ideas should win, not just the ones with access to capital.”