How to make $1 million from tech: print as many t-shirts as you can sell, for zero upfront cost

Teespring launches in Europe, has excellent T-shirt-related business model

Wanting to print T-shirts for an event or to promote your political views, or Father's Day, or perhaps you're a member of the Rolling Stones or Kiss, and want to flog some more merch? Teespring, which has just launched in Europe, is for you.

One in 75 Americans bought something from Teespring last year and it's shipped 15 million garments since its 2011 launch in Providence, Rhode Island. Those are the claims of CEO Walker Williams (below right), who was at the UK launch party.

Here's how it works.

You design a T-shirt, whether that means etching an elaborate image or just choosing a font and writing "My other T-shirt is by Gucci".

You upload your design to Teespring and fit it on a T-shirt (or hoodie, or tote bag, or other product) and choose a colour.

You set your price and how many you intend to sell, the minimum being five, and how long you wish your sales 'campaign' to last. The website tells you what your projected profit will be (hence you can work out what the materials and Teespring's cut will cost you) and helps you set up a microsite that runs for the duration of the campaign.

The clever bit here is that by this mechanism, the upfront cost to you is zero. Teespring won't print anything until you've hit the number of orders that you've stipulated. Once you're past your sales target, it carries on printing for as long as punters are buying.

Walker is an enthusiastic kinda guy, as you'd imagine, and he further reckons that 'hundreds' of people are making over six figures annually, designing garments on Teespring, and that 20 made over $1 million last year through their Teespring businesses.

The biggest seller of all, if you can believe this, was apparently a tee, released just before Father's Day, that simply says, "Papa, the man, the myth, the legend". Interestingly, there now seem to be about nine competing versions of that, of varying levels of competence, available on the site.

This raises inevitable questions about copyright. Okay, maybe whoever designed that was too embarassed to seek copyright protection for their design, or maybe it simply isn't something that can be copyrighted. Teespring says, however, that it has processes in place to prevent copyrighted images - album sleeves, Coke and Nike logos, etc - appearing on T-shirts.

Now, Teespring is not a listed company, so we've no way of checking any of its financial figures, but they ring true to us, given that, undoubtedly, the website is brilliantly easy to use, the business model is very clever and the actual T-shirts are very good and the printing quality excellent.

Walker Williams also told us that the Rolling Stones and Kiss both use Teespring. And if the the undisputed kings of both UK and US rock'n'roll merch are using the site's services, who are we to argue?

In short, this seems like a great service for all of us who want to broadcast their feelings and beliefs from their torso.