30DayStartup, Week Two — Design and Marketing

[Didn’t read part one? Check it out here!]

Okay, I hinted at this before, but its official – I literally have no idea where I am in this challenge anymore. Pretty sure 30 days is relatively 4 weeks, so I figure on the 4th post we’ll just launch then.

As for the startup itself, we’ve been making good progress. Concept art for the season 1 designs are now made, and an early-stage marketing campaign has been started. So let’s talk about progress:

Making the Designs

For the season 1 designs, I wanted to focus on a couple of principles that would specify the type of shirts we were going for. The main principle is that we are making art for shirts, not shirts with art. A lot of what I’ve seen on Redbubble is just various pieces of art that are slapped onto whatever items they can put it on. Instead, I want my focus to be starting with the type of clothing (e.g. t-shirts) and making art specifically for it.

Another focus I want to have is in relatively minimalist designs. This should be a given, speaking that I have like zero experience in art and design. I also feel like minimalism is a pretty good style to use for t-shirt design specifically, as too much clutter on the shirt causes your eyes to be distracted.

Early Stage Marketing

In addition to setting up the first set of shirt designs, I also went ahead and made a twitter account for the store. I plan on primarily using the account to: a) market new season 1 designs as they come out (duh) and b) post/retweet interesting pictures that have the same sort of artistic style and “feel” that I’m going for in my shirts. I’m hoping that this helps develop a community that will both enjoy the shirts as well as showcase their own creativity with others.

 

For next week, I’m hoping we build some more followers/engagement with the twitter account, as well as start converting concept art into real, solid designs. If you want to continue following this journey (or look at last week’s issue), I’d recommend checking out my profile and following the blog. You can also follow my twitter – whichever one works best for you!

30DayStartup: The Beginning

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash. Business!

As promised, here’s my first post for the 30DayStartup challenge! This whole thing is already extremely messy; I wasn’t able to post last week like I had thought I would be and I’ve also already lost my place as to what day I’m supposed to be on this challenge. Guess that serves me right for jumping the gun and starting this challenge literally as school started. Whoops!

In this case, what you might end up seeing out of this blog instead is less of a documenting of the challenge itself and more of working my way through the ideas and business model of what I plan to create. That’s essentially short for this probably won’t be a 30 day startup after all – just a normal startup.

Then again, if I count correctly, we should still have 21 days until launch. So let’s get to it!

The Ideas Stage

Most of my time this past week and some change has been dedicated to the ideas process. Spoiler alert: I’m fucking terrible with ideas. I have an idea journal that I’ve kept for about a year and there’s only five things on it. And that’s not business ideas – that’s just ideas in general. Because of this, this was definitely the hardest part of the process for me. I ended up starting with four ideas before finally settling on one, but I’m just going to go ahead and reveal all four, because they either a) already exist and I’ve already made them, b) are way too vague, or c) I just want them to exist and listen someone more competent can make it for me if I can’t make it myself.

The first idea I had was that of a dropshipping site via Shopify. This one was pretty nice because you’re work is primarily in settling the business as the actual product work is done by another company via an initial capital investment. The downside is… there’s an initial capital investment. I mean, let’s face it, I’m a college student who has never had a normal job in my entire life. If we are gonna make a startup, we are going lean with it.

The second idea (also in the vein of fashion) was a Redbubble store. This was pretty easy – I already have experience in having a Redbubble store, and the product work is yet again pretty minimal – in this case, you’re not working at all on logistics like you would be in drop-shipping, but you do have to create the designs. And although I am terrible at art, I am decent at marketing and I’ve already gotten one sale from a few eons ago. The downside with this one is purely that it’s not in the spirit of the challenge itself. When you think side project, you’re thinking more of creating your own service or product – code or no code – and then setting up all the work for that manually. Using Redbubble just… feels like cheating in a way.

So, what ideas are “in spirit”? I had a lot of trouble thinking of ideas for mobile and web apps, but I managed to get a few mediocre ones. For a mobile app, I was thinking of a mentoring system that worked locally with connecting people who are farther along in crafts they wish to follow. In case this sounds familiar, it’s because it is. This “mentor app” idea has been made about a million times in hackathons, side projects, and, yes, even full on startups. Still, if it worked for everyone else, surely it could work for me – right?

And finally, there is the web app. Even though I do know HTML and JS (Thanks 100DaysofCode!) I did want to try out the functionality of nocode editors like Bubble and Webflow. Turns out, they are… uh… in very early access. Also, my idea for a web app was a Resume Editor, in which you could simultaneously edit work experience, education, etc. on all major resume sites – LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, Glassdoor, the works. One issue with this – although it is a great idea (someone please make it oh god), working with that many APIs (as well as trying to get advanced permissions for each one) would be an absolute fucking nightmare.

So, in conclusion…

…I chose Redbubble.

There’s a couple of difference reasons why – first of all, Redbubble has the clearest and easiest tools for the job. Since this is my first foray into really doubling hard on a startup, I want to do something that in a way eases into the process. Secondly, I couldn’t (at the time at least) find any hard cons against Redbubble besides the fact that it’s not really a startup and also I’m kind of a shitty designer. When it comes to dropshipping, I literally don’t have the capital required, and for the mobile/web apps, I literally don’t have any ideas – cons that are much worse.

 

So, now what do we call it? What shirts are we gonna sell? What marketing tools are we gonna use? All these questions, and more, answered on the next episode! Follow this blog (or my Twitter) to get updates on this process. Happy starting!