Apparently, starting one popular T-shirt website wasn’t enough for Josh Abramson.
Last week Abramson, who previously co-founded the jokey T-shirt retailer BustedTees, launched TeePublic, which is basically a Kickstarter for T-shirts. Users can pledge to buy designs that they like, and if a shirt gets at least 30 people to fund it, then TeePublic will print it, and will continue selling the shirt indefinitely. Shirts cost $20, of which $5 goes to the designer.
Older sites have taken steps in this direction. Most notably, there’s Threadless, where people submit their designs and people vote on them. Ultimately, however, the designs that get printed are chosen by the staff. As a result, Abramson argued that there are plenty of designs that attract significant interest, but never get turned into shirts. (Y Combinator-backed Teespring is trying to do something similar.) For example, he pointed to this design, which the artist said received “a huge response from the members of the Threadless community” but “they never opted to print it for whatever reason.”
Abramson sold his company Connected Ventures (whose properties included CollegeHumor and BustedTees) to IAC, but he bought BustedTees back in 2011. He said that he considered making TeePublic part of the existing site, but he worried “there would be pressure on everybody to come up with funny T-shirts” (some shirts on the site are funny, but many are not). Nonetheless, he will be using BustedTees to cross-promote the new site.
In the first week since lauch, Abramson said TeePublic saw 50,000 visits, and there are now more than 2,000 registered users. Those users performed 1,000 funding/purchasing actions. On the design side, more than 480 designs were uploaded and 22 have been funded so far. And since it’s important for designers to publicize their shirts, Abramson also pointed out that 60 percent of the designers are sharing on Twitter and Facebook once they upload their work.