Is Print on Demand the Best Side Gig for 2020?
Hey. Everybody welcome back to another episode of, the bright ideas podcast, as always, I am your host Trent. Deer Smith and I'm, here to share with you the stories of the, today's, most, successful. Entrepreneurs. And more importantly, to, extract. All. The best, gold, nuggets, that I can during each and every interview so you can take these away and, implement them in your business not. Tomorrow but ideally. Today. So, my guest on the show today is a fellow by the name of Davis. Six. Nons, and I think I've pronounced. That correctly and, dothis, is the. CEO. Of a company called printful. One of the industry's, largest print-on-demand. Dropshipping. Businesses, with more than 800 employees in, in and five, fulfillment. Centers in North Carolina. California, and Mexico and, Latvia, the company has fulfilled almost, 16. Million items, since. It was launched in 2013 so, Donais thank you very much for making some time welcome to the show, thanks. For having me it's great to be on the phone so. 16, million items I assume that you personally handled, every single one of those, yeah. We try, I mean my faces. And, in our apps that our employees, who's been fulfilling the orders so I mean I mean well yeah sixteen million it's exciting that's, a big number so, let's. Start with a tiny bit about you who. Are you well how did you get into this business and, let's. Begin there, so. I'm the CEO and co-founder so, actually I've been since, the very beginning, and. Business. Is co-founded, with me and two other Latvians. We. Income, from from. Latvia small, country, and in north east, of Europe and we've. Been involved with other businesses, into internet, space, one. Of the co-founders who actually is most well known for starting the social network in Latvia by taking an idea of Friendster the first ever social network, existed, so decided that back when Facebook was started, but, that business looks successful. And we use money to invest in other businesses, and you, know my, co-founders, have started together, maybe hundred, business ideas, over the course of 15 years and just fearful happens, to be the most successful out of all. Of them and I, got involved with them initially, working in social network. About 10 plus years now and. You. Know a lot of those business ideas were mostly focused on the Latvia and when. The last financial, crisis, happened we really want to go for the best and biggest market, there is in us and so, we started working on various, ideas, for e-commerce, in, the United States markets, one of the co-founders moved to Los Angeles that's. Where our first fulfillment, center for. Printful is and, we. Started building e-commerce, stores, and one, was built on, Shopify. Which. Was in a well known platform, for anybody in e-commerce who wants to start an online store, and. It's. Still around that gave the inspiration, to start prayerful later and the, the business call started vitamins, we were selling motivational. Posters, whose. Quotes for, other businesses, you know we kind of tackled. Our own need because we were startup company and wanted, to have inspirational. Quotes like you see to have in your office and. In. Our co-founder just printed them and he's called about the printer put in his home in LA and every. Day he just. Go down to local USPS, Center and drop them off and to send it off to the customers, and, the. Business was actually going well he kind of tapped in a niche that actually, we're unlocking, some good. Things around marketing, advertising, was, way cheaper, six. Seven oh that, was now eight. Nine years ago you know a basically, peppers lazing was way cheaper back, then and. We. Wanted to move beyond posters, and we, were looking for a print on the manager option company, who can fulfill. T-shirts. On the men just like we do posters, you really need paper and you print on them and we, just couldn't find the company that would do it fast. In a quality, way and when integrated, with our back in at the time which was Shopify, and that, is how like we got idea to start printful. And I've. Been bald ever since, the. Company's, CEO, loved. It all right so today we are going to talk about for, the folks who maybe don't yet have a. Business. Why. You think, someone, looking for will call it a side hustle, should, consider, a print-on-demand.
Business. So let's let's deal with that one first the entrepreneurs, you don't have a business they're thinking of like what should I do I'd love to start something on the side I'd love to have it be able to some become, something that maybe could replace, my. Job at some point in time there's lots of options for them to choose from why. Do you think print-on-demand, is. Worthy of their consideration. Predetermined, is great, because. There's. Not not. A big upfront, investment. Required from user, entrepreneur. Who's starting out to start, an experiment they starting selling something, you. Know, these days Shopify, and platforms, like that have made it easy to have an e-commerce platform so, you can pay Shopify $29. So we can just, get all commerce and pay just for hosting. That's gonna be maybe $10 a month and then. Printful. And services, like that imprints. On the Menton space is entirely free to use you only pay when you get an order, so. We give folks. Who sign up to us tools. Like our markup generator, recessed those designs we, educate. Them how to find their niche. Need, some sample. Graphics, they can choose from 220. Products but essentially they don't have to invest in their. Own warehouse, hire, their own staff or buy expensive. Printers some, of these printers that we're actually using and some, of the being. Buying more recently costs, half a million dollars something, out of reach for anybody, who just, starting out but, by using print, on demand you get access, to that, state-of-the-art. Printing, equipment and, can compete, and an even playing, field there's, other. Companies who for instance do it in-house or have been invested, so, return. Demand is easiest. Way to start and. You. Can get a listing, up on your store. You. Know given that you can design something. Really. Within hours. Okay. So, let's. Break this down, to some pretty simple steps. Suppose. That I am somewhat. Intrigued, about, doing print-on-demand but, I don't have any ideas for products, how. Do I start getting ideas. Well. You, can think Star Wars yourself, I mean that's how we started start of item ins we, you. Know we were moved into new office and actually. Was the office, was previously a gallery. Art. Gallery and it's, a beautiful wall space and we want to put cool stuff on it something that would resonate with us as the startup culture and. They were just googling around startup. Posters and keywords like that and we, just couldn't find the, quotes are they like in the design ceiling so we said ended up designing our, own poster. Designs and putting up on on the sale to, week this is a you, know or SEO to make sure we're ranked number. One on keywords, other posters, invested, their advertising, did other, stuff so, a lot. Of great. Ideas usually, come from your only that's, one way way, to start but, others, ways. Are you can do your real research, on social media such, as Pinterest, seeing what's popular what's what. What people are fit and what people are pinning, or people. Are sharing, on social. Media, such as Instagram. But. But, really, to develop later you need to have some. Relation. To that niche to understand, that niche and in, the case of star environments, we understood. The. Potential customer, really well because we were that potential, customer. Then. What, we seen most successful, customers, so print all the time they you, know they, too are from, that community for instance we. Have a lot of people, who sell a lot of dog, related, designs. And they, just really love dogs and consume a lot of content so they can create. That you know the best designs, who's going to resonate these people like them and, there's all of this stuff going on t-shirts, are you printing on 3d. Objects, or what. Is the does. That look like. We. Have more than. 220. Different products but most of them are different kinds of a battle. So. The paddle, is actually the, in category, in e-commerce so, when we started the star vitamin suite service posters, and, that would work 12 is that mange but when.
We Looked at just people buying stuff on internet and we knew that we would have to move into an apparel, so customers. Really can choose a lot of the products beyond, a part a battle products, that sell really well and have continuously, sold really well art things, like mugs phone. Cases and, others and we have products like that too okay. So pretty much anybody who's interested, in just about anything could, for example decide. They're gonna come up with funny t-shirts, related. To whatever the heck they're interested, in and, your. Company can print good quality, stuff. On these t-shirts okay well that's all fine and dandy so, let's. Say I've got a few ideas that. That. I'm want, to put on some t-shirts there's. Two two roadblocks that come, to mind first of all I'm not a designer so I don't know how to make the design number one and then. Number two once I've got a design made how do I test it to make sure that you know this is actually worth any time and effort and how long does it take and what does that cost. Right. So, yeah. There's. Ways to get around it first. Of all most. Print-on-demand, sites, and including, purple they have a designer. Tool built in it so, simple, designs like that base, designs, simple, job. Jeremy. Trick shapes will be right, in the generator, you do not need to hire an external designer. To. Get you up and running we can choose between the fonts we supply so we. Have an actual one of the customers. Was. We had it from another, country nearby a lot a Estonia, was a design. Site about local pride so their designs are really simple it has at just a name of a city on a t-shirt in a font no, other, illustration. Beyond that so they literally the designs couldn't be more simple and, you didn't need, to hire a. Designer. For, that and you only needed to work with marketing, like influencers. Social. Media marketing stuff like that so, one, you you don't. Overestimate, your, need to hire an extra on this banner however, if you need to we. Have, design a service system in place where you, can email them and tell me oh I'm I would like to design this cartoon, and they're gonna design you a cartoon.
For A fee and beyond. That you can use external, services, where you can hire, designers. Of varying. Prices such, as fiber. You. Know there's a lot of designers on Fiverr that will make t-shirts for you yeah. 99. Designs. There. Was a company the recent Lehman up work right if you can hire any, kind of specialists. And help enough work so you, can you can use those, to. Hire somebody ok, so coming up with the design is actually not. As difficult as you would think if you are not a talented, designer so. Now how. In. Terms of testing my idea of because obviously you, have to be able if you're gonna run ads. To. Get traffic, you've got to think about well what's the clicks gonna cost what's the conversion rate how well is my t-shirt gonna sell like there's a whole economic equation. To figure out whether or not this is going to be a profitable, particular, product, can, you shed, some light on, what you've. Seen some of your customers, doing, in terms of running those tests and what rules some numbers people might want to consider in terms of, to something. Determining, whether the products going to be viable. Right. The. The first thing about printable that's good that you know when. You create a listing, there's no, you. Know you're only invested, time and maybe a little bit of money in design but beyond that it didn't cost, anything so you can test a lot of different listings a lot of different, products, and designs. Generally. We suggest our customers, to charge at least. 30%. Or more, market. Price on top of the print falls wholesale price, and. In. Depending, on your product Gucci so if it's 30%. On a sticker you have very little you know dollar amount and there in your margin to test sufficiently, ads and to actually get somebody by but, we have products, ranging, from a price of sticker which is a couple dollars to more, premium, products, like ball. Art the frame wall art and you can sell those for $100. Or more so. If you choose products, like that you have much. Bigger dollar amount, there to test. Advertising. On the, places, like Google, and, Facebook and Instagram etc, so. If clever peripheral customer, I would. Test, my, designs. Out there on those products, that cost more because then advertising, on Facebook. Has gotten more expensive, I can. Still charge like 30% maybe, 50% or more on top of that but you know instead of having a $5, margin, I'm getting.
Like $20, margin, $30. Margin so. You, know you choose, products, and you know look at our product that goal or some of these other companies try kind of look I would go for the you know the highest price private. Products if I wear myself you. Sell a higher price product and then, you add in a lot of lower, cost products you, use upselling there's. Many apps for that you know up you can upsell stickers, and and mugs and, phone cases that are relatively, inexpensive. In. That one sale, okay. And to be clear. Folks. Are they using, your platform. For. Their online store, or they getting a Shopify, store and then connecting, it for fulfillment. For fulfillment. Through, to your service, so that when they get an order in the Shopify store your. Printers are actually printing and shipping the product. Yes. So, you. We don't have a billing. Platform you will always need to, rely. On Shopify. Or WooCommerce. Or Wix or big commerce, or on. Sale, happening, on marketplaces, that we work with such as Etsy but without all of these partners we have an API integration. That means once, the you sell something an order comes in on the Shopify. Zen or Etsy, send it, will ultimately go to in our back-end and. It's as long as you you, know paid for the order will go into fulfillment, we, print back and ship the order once we ship it we provide the tracking number back, to the platform so just Shopify an Etsy and then that platform, sends the tracking link directly to the buyer okay. So. Let's talk about some success, stories now within your customer, base obviously with. Size of your company you've got lots of customers, so I'd imagine there are plenty of success stories which one comes to mind. They, actually have a section, on our blog you know printful success, stories you can find, a couple ones I, briefly. Mentioned the, Estonian. Local. Pride design, store already I really like them because again designs, were really simple and they just had small towns, names. On it you, know you can forget the United States, thousands. Of. Small towns yeah, and great, thing about that designs are simple and you can target zero. Specifically. Ready, well using things. Like Instagram. And. And, Facebook, so. Designs. Like that still, seem to work well and that, particular. Customer. Also. Used a lot of influencer, marketing so. They're little people. Who are influential, and those communities, who provided them with a discount, card and they said one of the key things. Was. Tracking. The return on. Investment, of. Using an influencer, or paying them to promote their. Apparel. Brand so. They started in Estonia, which was a country of less than two million even smaller than in Latvia then expanded, into lastly, and I think the most recently, they expanded.
Into Spain, I. Don't. Think they're in the US yet because there's probably and competitors, like that so, that's one example really. Really simple design and they you know I. Content. Like how much they sold but they they're successful, a. And. There's, more to. The story we actually have a big deal lady. That owns that's. The work around. That I. Like. There was a there. Was a customer. Who was, initially, started out as I, believe. Posting, to social media, cameras, memes about that's, you know those that's who wear, that, jeans and, New. Balance is the sneakers, and stuff like that and mowing the lawn and stuff like that so there, was a community. Spreading. Around that content. And. Then, he realized, that he can sell merchandise the. That people, would gift, their. Dads because they were very engaging with the content so, the father's days came around and they would they, would so you, know that design, that. T-shirt, was quotes again really simple and, we. Have hats and embroidery, and. More. Recently, in recent years like dad hats have actually come back into fashion so, that that heads was their designs, as their community worked, really well and they, were able to sell a lot. So. That's I, believe the store name is classic, Dada Dada, and then. They had, you know beyond that they. Expanded. Into designer designs. Around mothers and mob so really. Really made sense. There. And, then, there's. The. Third customer I highlight, is, your. Customers who get, again. Passionate, about something, that happened, and get other people resonated. There's. A customer called stoma, stoma and. There. Was this. Graphic. Designer couple, I forgot it was a mother. And father but they had a premature, baby, and. By. Going through the experience, they noticed other people coming into maternity. Ward. Was inspiring. Quotes on their t-shirts, and designs and they. Sort of thought they, know that inspired, them to keep going and they I think launched this t-shirt design called keep fighting. And. With. With, other. You. Know to sort. Of help and inspire other people who might going through the same experience and. And, you. Have the you know then eventually they developed, a whole line of designs. Just. Supporting. And inspiring, patterns. We had a premature baby and they, posted content about, how to, deal. With that you know other aspect suggestions, for parents, like that and. They. Are obviously eventually, developed, a kids clothing line that they're designs of, you. Know inspiring. Kids. I think they're to their, child had to had a help. Is a breathing. Device in. His neck and, there was a lot of cool designs, around that, idea and, I think parents who are dealing with that you, know the the same situation.
Mm-hmm. Yeah that'd be tough, all. Right so. If. You, before we wrap up if you were interviewing, yourself, on this topic with, the idea, of just exposing. Would-be. Entrepreneurs to. This, as a legitimate. Business, opportunity because. Clearly 16, million items there's a lotta items. What. Is there anything that I haven't asked you anything, we haven't discussed before we wrap up that you think would make the interview, just a little bit better. I. Would, just I, think, you gathered the most things I mean I mean, the most of the stuff that, available. This is really just easily Google and, finding, around and, people. Who was wanting, to start something, they. Just really should just find a time on a evening, or just to go in a weekend to explore. Continent. Shopify. And, friend. Full and try, it out because literally. You can you can minutes. To get the store up and running you, can test some designs really, quickly and by. The time weekend, is over hopefully, get a sale and we have some of those stories already on. Our, customer, base so devote. A weekend, see, what happens out of it if you don't end up selling anything you learn something new about setting, up your store or building a print on the Med store and if, you sell something you you, know might be willing to do, at least as this hike hustle or maybe, even make it to full time and. The thing that I would add to that folks is is more importantly, when you take your. First steps towards. Pursuing. An idea. Oftentimes. What happens and, my career. And most every entrepreneurs, can your career is a perfect example of this you. Discover, other, ideas, as you're digging around trying. To be successful with, your first idea and then. Ultimately you might end up may end up becoming much more successful, with one of those other ideas, but if you don't begin the, journey you. Never give your the opportunity. To discover, the second or third layer, idea, which ultimately like you heard Davos. Say early on they experimented. With many. Many many many ideas and, as a part of that journey this printful, company. Proved. To be the, biggest. Success by a wide wide margin, so, the point is is at. Some point in time listening. To podcasts. Like this and watching youtube videos are, great but. They'll never expose, you to the layer 2 layer 3, layer 4 idea, which could be your million-dollar idea so take that time take that weekend make the investment, and, see. What comes of it often times you will be very surprised, so the company is printful the CEO is davos thomas, thank you so much for making some time to be on the show, thanks. For having me.