T-Shirt Subscription Service Sttartup Is Product Hunt of the Physical World

March 11, 2016

10:30 am

Each morning I pop into Product Hunt to find the latest and greatest products from around the world, all curated by an awesome community of entrepreneurial professionals. Not only is Product Hunt an amazing marketing platform for startups, the community is filled with early adopters who are both supportive and constructive. However, what if there were a way to bring some of these common elements into the real world?

That is the idea behind Sttartup, a new monthly t-shirt subscription service that will deliver you two new shirts each month. Each monthly box will feature shirts from two startups, include information about what they do, and an incentive for you to check them out. For example, one of the featured startups may be a BBQ brand and include a bottle of their product. The next month it may be a startup such as Sniply that allows you to stay top of mind even when sharing content on social media that you don’t own.

Like other subscription based programs such as Loot Crate or Dollar Beard Club, Sttartup has a very specific audience in mind: entrepreneurs. From leaders creating their own company to the early-stage employees making them grow, the startup community regularly likes to support its peers. Sttartup also acts as an additional marketing platform, which is entirely free for the business sharing their brand and services in the form of an awesome branded t-shirt.

From Swag to Awareness

“Usually only get shirts at places like SXSW. The early adopters who are into these kinds of things are going to be exposed to the startup in a new way. We’re trying to get the early adopters to really learn about that startup, and really give startups an opportunity to reach a new audiences. It’s free for startups, we don’t charge them any money at all. For that reason they are getting really excited about it,” said Sttartup Founder Chris Lawson.

The service itself is quite meta in the sense that they are also just now breaking into the startup world. That means their marketing budgets are small and they have to get creative. To kick things off, starting today at SXSW, they are launching a guerrilla marketing campaign. They’ve hired a street team with LED backpacks to draw in the techies, and will be handing out information how they can obtain a very special t-shirt. The shirt in question will be a reprint of the sold out Glasshole Kitty Product Hunt shirt. Best of all, you don’t actually need to attend SXSW to get in on the launch promotion.

“We want to create a new marketing channel for companies,” said Lawson. “We know startups have closets full of t-shirts that they only give away at conferences… a whole subculture of startup swag. People want to wear it. We want to be irreverent and fun. We live the life of startups, eating ramen noodles, trying to have a good time with it, and cutting through the noise of a place such as SXSW.”

Validating Ideas

For Lawson, the idea of Sttartup has a very simple back history that included self-validation.

“I was wearing a shirt from a client, I looked at myself in the mirror doing yoga, and noticed it started cracking so I wanted to find a new one,” said Lawson. “I went online trying to find the shirt, and I couldn’t find anywhere. So the more I dug in there was no market place for startup gear. There are places that print shirts, or things like CafePress, but it baffled me that you couldn’t just buy gear from startups. You can’t buy a Facebook or Google shirt. If Facebook had a shirt with a thumbs up on it, they would sell millions a year.”

Initially Lawson looked at services like CafePress, but ultimately decided both the quality of the digital print and the overall cost would not be ideal. He found a startup in Florida that produces custom screen printed designs, works directly with the startup to ensure their brand guides are being followed, and are able to produce the shirts directly for subscribers. Currently they have 20 startup involved and 40 more set to be onboarded.

Sttartup currently offers two options, a monthly recurring subscription and an annual subscription. The subscriptions cost $39 per month or $420 per year.

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Elliot is an award winning journalist deeply ingrained in the startup world and is often digging into emerging technology and data. When not writing, he's likely either running or training for a triathlon. You can contact him by email at elliot(@)elliotvolkman.com or follow him on Twitter @thejournalizer.

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