Hailing a brief mention in one of Ami's postings a couple weeks back I decided to find out more about the web based T-shirt company Bountee. With less than a year's uptime, the company's fast becoming a top contender in the online t-shirt industry. Offering pre-designed prints in their gallery which are uploaded and voted on by the online community, as well as the option to create and sell your own designs, this two pronged approach seems to solve all the traditional problems associated with silkscreen methods. With no set up charges, a user-friendly interface and the option for single units and short-runs it seems they've mastered the art of on-demand printing. Using a âDirect to garmentâ printing method, in which graphics are literally printed directly onto the tees, Bountee offers unlimited numbers of colors, gradient printing and a turn around time that a traditional screenprinter would scowl at! If you like what you see at their website feel free to use the code "lovecoolhunting" at checkout for 15% off your order. To delve deeper Bountee's Steve Hunt was kind enough to answer a few questions
Who came up with the business model/idea and why?
Bountee was really born out of a couple of other t-shirt sites that I used to run. I actually studied fashion illustration back in the day and really enjoyed the freedom that t-shirt design offered, but having to squeeze design work into my spare time on evenings and weekends really didn't fit with the day job and I was gradually spending less and less time designing and more time fixing code and answering emails—basically doing day-to-day website running tasks and not enough sketching.
What I really wanted was a service that would take the hassle out of website owning and shirt printing for me while still allowing me freedom to pretty much design what and when I wanted.
I'd always been interested in on demand printing (especially as it considerably reduces overhead/outlay as a designer), but was never really impressed with the vinyl and transfer methods that some of the other, big "print on demand" websites offered. Both of my sites used the same techniques and it was a little embarrassing to be honest and I didn't really have an interest in printing mugs or mouse mats either. I had heard vague rumblings about a newer technology based on ink-jet printing, so I hooked up with a couple of friends and we starting talking around the idea of a website that pretty much ran itself and would cost nothing for the designer to get started. This beta version of Bountee is the first step along that path really...
In fact, as a designer I don't need anything to start selling t-shirts now, except for ideas and a graphics program capable of producing vector artwork. It's almost too easy now!
As for the business model, one core aspect of the site that we are proud of is our Terms and Conditions, especially our views on copyright, which have never changed since the day we sat down and started sketching stuff out. We own nothing of the designs that get sold through our website, and everything belongs to the designer.
We see a lot of sites these days paying a few hundred bucks for exclusive use of a design and basically locking the designer out of any future profit, and that kind of rankled with us. Sure we make some money off of each sale, but the key to Bountee is that the greater chance for profit from each individual sale is with the designer; the creator. And if a designer decides that he or she wants to go off and print a hundred of their designs and pimp them to their local shirt store, then who are we to stop 'em?
Our model is pretty simple really. We hope that in time we will have earned the respect and trust of the designer so that they keep using the site and to keep working with us.
Tell us a bit about your printing method (as opposed to silk screening)?