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September 21, 2009

From the Ashes of Failed Business Plans Sprouts the Success that is Cafe Press

Filed under: Start-up Companies Reviews — admin @ 5:35 am

Business can be tricky sometimes. Many successful businessmen fail many times over before they become successful. This is especially true with Cafe Press. What is Cafe Press? Cafe Press is a combination of an advertising company and a printing company. Cafe Press prints T-shirts, coffee mugs and other ceramics, stickers and buttons, cards and calendars, and arts and posters. Cafe Press also offers gifts for sale as well. When you first pull up the Cafe Press website, you will see many different T-shirts that Cafe Press has printed for different people and business. Many businesses use Cafe Press for their marketing as well. There are many products that Cafe Press has to offer, and what is even better, Cafe Press offers reasonable prices for custom printing on just about anything.

The top product from Cafe Press, however, is T-shirts. On the website, you can see some of the hottest T-shirts that Cafe Press has printed for various businesses, organizations, and social groups. If you own a business or want to sponsor a fundraiser, Cafe Press might just be the right thing for you. Cafe Press has some T-shirts that are humor of all sorts, ranging from political to geek to other types of humor. Not only does Cafe Press sell all kinds of different T-shirts, and other accessories, the company also allows you to make your own T-shirts. By clicking on the hyperlink that is at the very top of the website, “Make Custom T-shirts and More,” you can see a broad range of T-shirts, sweatshirts, and other articles of clothing that you can have Cafe Press customize just for you. You create the design and Cafe Press will print it. Cafe Press also even has T-shirts for dogs that you can have something printed on.

It does not even stop there. Besides T-shirts, Cafe Press also offers a wide range of other different customizable products for you to choose from. Perhaps you want to place your business logo on a coffee mug, or on some other type of article. Well, Cafe Press has something for you too. Cafe Press also has a wide range of different cards, stickers, bumper stickers, and calendars that you can customize for yourself or your business or charity. Cafe Press also makes banners, yard signs, greeting cards, posters and more.

Cafe Press also has a small variety of different drink ware that you can customize for yourself or your business or charity. These include water bottles, coffee and beer mugs, keepsake boxes, and tile coasters for hot pots on the table.

In a nutshell, Cafe Press will practically print on anything for you. Other things that Cafe Press customizes are mouse pads for your computer, wall clocks, dog and cat food boles, buttons, refrigerator magnets, and much more. If you want Cafe Press to customize a large quantity of items for you, they even offer a bulk price and the company also has no minimum limits. This is great for the individual who wants a T-shirt for him or herself.

Cafe Press is a true success story. As the title of this article mentions, the founder of the company has had many failures before he succeeded with Cafe Press and not only is this company successful in the United States and in the area where it was founded, on the West Coast, but internationally as well.

Besides the company’s main website in the United States, Cafe Press also has websites for the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. The US website is also the website that Cafe Press uses for doing business throughout the world. Cafe Press also accepts several other currencies, besides the US Dollar, which include the British Pound, the Euro, the Canadian Dollar, and the Australian Dollar.

The cofounder of Cafe Press is Fred Durham, who also works at the company as its CEO. When you click on the About Cafe Press hyperlink on the Cafe Press website, you can watch an interesting video that has Mr. Durham explain everything about the company and how it was founded. In the video he explains that he came to the Bay Area in southern California, because that is in his view “the Hollywood for Geeks.” He also states in the video that he had ten business plans about two types of businesses, helping businesses sell their products on the internet and providing a medium for businesses to print their advertising material on. Nine of these ten business plans failed, so Mr. Durham came up with the idea to combine the two things together and change them a bit. This idea became the core idea that grew into the successful Press Cafe. In the video, Mr. Durham was doing most of the narrating and explained that he could create a company that allows businesses to sell something on the internet and have something that can be customizable and be generated on demand. This is the main idea that is behind Cafe Press.

The company video also features some of the customers that Cafe Press has acquired. Cafe Press has acquired a unique variety of different customers who have different ideas about their products and have turned to Cafe Press to produce their ideas. One of these customers, featured in the video is Matt Jervis of Kulture Hero Designs. According to Mr. Jervis, Cafe Press is a neat place for him to express himself. This is also another unique thing about Cafe Press. You can also sell your creativity on Cafe Press and many T-shirt artists sell their T-shirts on Cafe Press and make a profit.

Another Cafe Press customer featured in the company promotional video is Jolene Sugarbaker, of Jolene’s Trailer Park. The business plan that Ms. Sugarbaker is to “right the trailer park name,” which she has been doing with not only her products, but also through the internet and hope shows. Mr. Sugarbaker further went on to explain that though her theme is the trailer park, she wants to turn a negative into a positive. She went on to say that there are many people whop either do not like something or are anxious about something, such as going to the dentist. She will use these anxieties or dislikes that people have about certain things, such as going to the dentist. She comes up with all kinds of shirt designs, such as “sexy waitresses” and other ideas. Ms. Sugarbaker also believes that many people are on the internet begging for money, and she says that there is something wrong for that. Ms. Sugarbaker further stated that she feels fulfillment, since she knows that when someone buys her product, she knows that someone is helping her cause and at the same time she knows that her images, slogans, etc. are being worn by real people around the world.

A third Cafe Press customer featured in the company promotional video is Lisa Spodak of She runs a charity against breast cancer, which she started when her mother was diagnosed with the disease. Ms. Spodak has a walking fundraiser where she walks and raises money, from which the proceeds go to help fight breast cancer. She goes on in her video to explain how she started with this fundraiser where she needed to raise a minimum of $1800 but with her first walk she managed to raise over $4400 and then in her second walk she managed to raise $7800. She noticed that she was being successful with her fundraiser and wanted to reach out to people who were not her close acquaintances, so she turned to Cafe Press for help. Along with walking 14 Avon Walks to help fight against breast cancer and wearing T-shirts that were printed by Cafe Press, Ms. Spodak was able to raise over $110,000. Lisa Spodak further stated that social expression can be very important and when she wears one of her T-shirts people can see what is important to her.

The video closes with Mr. Durham again explaining that Cafe Press is at the heart of the trend of people wanting to express themselves and this is one of the reasons that the company is so successful.

Cafe Press was founded in October of 1999 and is based in San Mateo, California. The company currently employs ober 300 people.

Cafe Press’s investors include New Millennium Partners, PacRim Venture Management, and Staenberg Venture Partners who invested $1.2 million in series A funding in March of 2000. These investors added another $300,000 to the series A funding in May of 2001. These investors were later joined by Sequoia Capital for a $14 million investment in series B funding in 2005.

New Millennium Venture Partners is a vc firm that primarily focuses its investments in angel and seed and first round companies who are in the internet industry. The vc firm believes in turning entrepreneurs and their ideas into great companies. Some other companies in Millennium’s portfolio include CodersLife, WildTangent, Kana, LookSmart, Four11, and others.

Based in Seattle, Washington, Staenberg Ventures is a vc firm that is committed to the companies that it invests in. Staenberg Ventures primarily invests first in the early stages of the company and co-invests together with other institutional investors in later stages in the company’s life. Some other companies in Staenberg’s portfolio include Aprimo, Blue Marlin, Care2, Corrigo, Intrepid, and others.

Serquoia Capital is a vc firm that invests in early stage companies who are in the healthcare, energy, internet, outsourcing services, and tech industries. A typical investment from Sequoia Capital ranges from $1 million to $10 million per round. Some other companies in Sequoia’s portfolio include A123, Achates Power, AdBrite, AdMob, FireEye, InfoBlox, and others.

Though Cafe Press does show signs of success, it does have a few competitors that it has to deal with. A couple of Cafe Press’s major competitors include Zazzle and Spreadshirt.

Zazzle was founded in 1999 and provides a service that is similar to the service that Cafe Press offers. Zazzle prints and sells everything from T-shirts to postage stamps and pays artists commissions to sell their designs on the Zazzle site.

Spreadshirt is also a company that has a similar service to the service that Cafe Press offers. Spreadshirt was founded by a German graduate student who later built the company and based it out of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Spreadshirt’s service allows anyone, to be either an individual or a company to design and market their T-shirt with the company.

For more information about Cafe Press, click here.


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