Startup stories are often too reductive — an entrepreneur dreams up an idea, snags some co-founders, raises a bit of money and presto: success and riches.
It’s nearly never true. Even breakout successes like Slack that may feel straightforward have complicated stories. Amongst the most valuable startups there are hidden crises and disappointing quarters. Some famous startups even had to execute a hard pivot after their original idea flopped. Slack was originally a gaming company, Twitter was a podcasting platform and YouTube wanted to be a dating service.
But not all startups that struggle and eventually make it have to completely toss out their original idea. Some just need to shake up operations before seeing the sort of success they’d hoped for.
Social e-commerce and fulfillment platform Teespring is one such company.
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From a 2017-era round of layoffs and restructuring, the company is on an impressive, profitable growth curve today.
I was part of the reporting team that covered the company’s earlier struggles, which came after it raised more than $50 million in venture capital. So when Teespring wanted to discuss the numbers behind its recent growth, I was more than curious.
This morning, let’s look at how one startup found its groove a few years after we’d figured it was a done deal.
Rewinding the clock, Teespring’s 2017 was a difficult period. The company had sharply cut staff as sales declined, cost reductions that helped push the startup from regular deficits into profitability.
At the time, reporting indicated that Teespring’s revenue fell off after it lost some power sellers and investments in goods other than T-shirts failed to materially improve its financial results. After the layoffs, Teespring raised $5 million at a diminished valuation to get back on its feet.