Aria Rajasa doesn’t mind when his startup is called a clone. In fact, he feels good – it makes the business easier to understand, keeps his team motivated to be as good as the original, and provides benchmarks for progress.
So I shouldn’t have been surprised when Rajasa told me that his startup, GantiBaju, basically “stole” the Threadless business model and marketing tactics. GantiBaju crowdsources t-shirt designs and then sells t-shirts, giving a portion of sales to designers. It also partners with brands to sponsor competitions, where 10-20 designers per month can win money and prizes like iPads.
But GantiBaju is wholeheartedly Indonesian. All the designs relate to Indonesia somehow, such as the garuda (a mythical bird and the country’s national symbol), heroes of the revolution, and political satire – of the less offensive variety, at least. Inspired by local designers in Bali and elsewhere, Rajasa set out to capture the beauty of Indonesian culture:
“Indonesia is really beautiful – the history, the culture, the spirit,” said Rajasa. “But the thing is … not many people can see Indonesia as how I see it, and I want that to change. I want to at least have a small part in changing the perspective of Indonesia, first to Indonesians and hopefully to the world.”
And he’s put a lot of effort into making this model work, from finding t-shirt suppliers to setting up a production house in the city of Bandung. GantiBaju does its own printing, with 2-3,000 shirts printed per month.
Since getting funded in 2010, GantiBaju has grown to a team of 18 and a network of 25,000 designers – not too shabby for a “clone.” Clearly, they’re doing something right.