Trying to Tap Into the Viral Nature of Crowdfunding
Josh Abramson, co-founder of the comedy site CollegeHumor and clothing site veteran BustedTees, says he plans to officially launch another clothing site TeePublic--a graphic t-shirt e-commerce site that follows a Kickstarter-esque model--on Thursday.
The website will allow designers to submit designs that site users can fund Kickstarter-style for $20. If the shirt gets 30 funders within the 30-day time period, the shirt goes into full production and the original designer gets $5 for each shirt sold, TeePublic pocketing the rest. If it doesn't get enough supporters in the allotted time, the project dies.
Abramson told Inc. that he isn't launching TeePublic out of some undying passion for the t-shirt business; he just sees it as an opportunity to get back into entrepreneurship game in an industry he knows well as a veteran of the both the web media and e-commerce clothing space.
"The fun thing about t-shirts for me is that the behavior that leads someone to buy a funny t-shirt is the same behavior that drives someone to share a viral video," Abramson said. "The difference is: when we got 10 million views in 48 hours on CollegeHumor, we weren't necessarily making any money. But when it's the revenue generator itself--the t-shirt--driving traffic, you can actually capture the profit in the virility."
Abramson left his post at IAC, an internet media company that boasts properties like Vimeo and Newsweek/Daily Beast, and re-purchased BustedTees in May of 2011. He and his partner had sold a majority stake in their company Connected Ventures, which owned CollegeHumor and BustedTees, to IAC in 2006.
He said he got the idea for the website while looking through the designs that were popular among the community members of Threadless, another clothing e-commerce site. He said that there were dozens of shirts that had big followings but were nonetheless axed by editors because they didn't fit with the rest of the Threadless' collection.
Abramson told Inc. that TeePublic made overtures to some of the designers who had been popular but rejected on Threadless to populate the site with its initial designs. He added he hopes to avoid the pitfalls of a having such a unified collection.
"We're not trying to pigeonhole ourselves with a very specific aesthetic," he said. "We'll curate it and push things to the front page, but we're not trying to steer it too much in one direction or another."