US 'pre-commerce' firm opens European HQ in UK
A merchandise platform which has made millionaires of 30 YouTube stars has named London as its European headquarters.
Led by Liverpool-born CEO Chris Lamontagne, Silicon Valley-based TeeSpring has invested $1 million into its UK operations as it backs content creators on these shores including Mr Bean, which has more than 11 million subscribers, and Simon’s Cat, which has almost five million.
The platform allows successful YouTubers to sell and advertise their own merchandise across their videos instead of having other branded adverts allocated to them. It deals with all manufacturing and shipping of this merchandise and can even provide an online shop for fans to buy T-shirts and other branded products.
In effect, it allows content creators to connect their fans to their brand and allows them to become a business.
“If you had a desire to start a business you would have to find a supplier, a manufacturer, a shipping partner, a payment provider. TeeSpring cuts out all of that and you come with an idea and you're able to put your design onto a product," Lamontagne told BusinessCloud.
“All you really need to have a business is ideas: it takes out all of the complication of the supply chain and all the messy parts of eCommerce.
“If you think about the cost associated with starting a business, I think that's what puts most people off as you have to invest in the supply chain to buy products.
“TeeSpring is free but our business model is that you create products and upon selling, we then take the margin out of the product itself. So the concept there is called pre-commerce.”
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Visual representation of Teespring's 'merch shelf'
Teespring has shipped over 25 million products and paid out over $300m to its sellers to date.
“Creators build up this following and at some point they have to start pushing ads to these people and that's effectively how they make money - but all of a sudden ads appear all over their videos," continued Lamontagne.
“They don't want to feel like they're selling out. They've built a loyal fan base so the minute they do become bigger, all of a sudden ads as an ecosystem is like a necessary evil.
“[Our system allows fans to say] 'I follow this person or I enjoy this person's content and I want to support this person - but I don't want to support them by having to click on an ad'. "
Lamontagne was recently promoted to the CEO position from his prior role as VP commercial and has previously led growth plans at both investment house Hambro Perks and taxi app disrupter Gett.
He says helping to create 30 millionaires "is a great story" but believes that what is happening further down the ecosystem is more important.
"What sits behind all that is just tons of people who are able to go on and live and create the way they want to, so while I'm super proud of the 30 millionaires, I'm actually more proud of the hundreds of thousands of creators who rely upon TeeSpring to make a living," he said.
“So I think as the business continues to grow we want to work with more creators, we want to work with more designers and artists and people who've got ideas.
“We want to look to try and integrate and partner with other similar ecommerce and social media platforms to be able to create this real deep distribution layer of being able to get this content into other places where customers are."
There are plans to expand the current London workforce of ten, which is made up of designers, account managers and marketing professionals and has been based in Bermondsey for around 18 months.
Teespring also has offices in Spain and remote employees across Europe.
“We just saw so much organic uptake in the UK markets from content creators, particularly high-profile YouTubers," said Lamontagne. “I think specifically what we want to do is grow the team in London - we want to be better represented throughout the UK.
“We've got exciting things coming up right in the next six months with a bit of a new look and some exciting announcements, so all in all 2019 is prepped to be a pretty big year for us.
"Announcing this expansion to Europe is just the start: we feel there's a really healthy roadmap for the next 12-18 months."