Providence apparel start-up Teespring is sort of the opposite of 38 Studios: 1) It’s is actually successful, and 2) instead of draining taxpayer dollars, Teespring is helping taxpayers make dollars. While trying to sell t-shirts to commemorate the closing of Fish Co. (of all places), Brown seniors Walker Williams and Evan Stites-Clayton struck upon the idea for an innovative platform to let anyone design and sell their own shirts. That platform became Teespring, which handles the boring and tedious logistics of payment, manufacturing and shipping, so that you can just focus on that awesome ironic t-shirt idea your friends are so tired of hearing about. Just like that crazy notion someone once had to start selling books on the internet, Teespring’s model is deceptively simple, with an underlying demand for product and a business model that’s easily applicable to other goods, allowing it to take off like a rocket. Since then, Teespring has sold over seven million t-shirts and estimates that last year 1 in 75 Americans purchased one of their products. They’ve raised $55 million in funding, employ over 170 people in Providence and San Francisco, and they’re building a 300-employee manufacturing plant in Kentucky. More importantly, they’re helping other people make money. The company says 20 people sold more than $1 million worth of merchandise through its platform last year, and estimates that hundreds more are pulling in six figures. Maybe Curt Schilling should have gone into the t-shirt business.
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