Engineer Turned Entrepreneur
Procrastination, the unexpected ingredient to success
We’ve all been there: pulling an all-nighter in the library, taking on a painfully long shift at work, keeping our eyes open during a monotonous lecture.
Often, the only saving grace during these trying times is snagging a few blissful minutes to yourself. Occasionally, as demonstrated by one of Teespring’s very first creators, a quick break can morph into a prospering business.
Like many aspiring engineers, University of British Columbia student Hung K. frequently escaped from the pages of his too-thick textbooks by logging into his Facebook account. His classmate’s communal grievances about their hectic workloads and shared procrastination techniques gave him solace as he powered through his workload.
One night, Hung figured out that if these jokes and memes were entertaining to him, they’d probably make his friends laugh too. So Hung decided to launch “Engineer Memes,” a Facebook page where he could compile all of the inside jokes, memes, and funny article links his fellow students might find amusing.
Growing His Audience: a few Friends to a Few Million
Here’s the hitch: Hung had never built a Facebook page before. But, like a true engineer, he launched right into the project. Learning as he went along, Hung started off slowly and invited a few new friends every day.
Before he knew it, his friends began sharing the page with their friends, and the growth snowballed.
The engineering major attributes the group’s rapid growth to two main factors: encouraging social shares and learning to optimize his content based on what his fans seemed to love the most. Additionally, posting a steady stream of new content every day helped to ensure that fans had a reason to stick around.
At latest count, Engineer Memes boasts a cool 537,000 followers, with hundreds more joining each week.
Once Hung’s group had reached about 250,000 fans, he started to hear comments from his friends about trying to monetize the page. “But I didn’t want to do something random, just to make money,” says Hung. Then he remembered a few friends who had created engineering shirts of their own to sell to other students in the program. Hung, however, didn’t want to invest in shirts he wasn’t sure he could sell and setting up a store seemed like a pain.
Teespring presented the perfect option—all he needed to worry about was his design and sharing his campaign.
Skyrocketing His Campaigns to Success
While Hung had a decently-sized audience, it was nothing compared to how extremely powerful his levels of audience engagement were.
Each design Hung created went through several different drafts. He solicited feedback and design ideas from his audience, and found a way to incorporate the ones that were the most popular.
When community members can participate so directly in the creation of the shirt, he learned, they’re often excited to place a purchase when the shirt is finally released.
“I wanted to make a shirt where they would be proud and happy to wear and not just at school, but anywhere! ”
“It puts a smile on my face, to see people across the globe wearing the design we created.”
Additionally, Hung answers any of his customers questions directly on his page whenever possible. Though Teespring has a team of support agents, he was quick to take advantage of the opportunity to show potential buyers that he was excited to help them out if he was able.
With the money earned from his shirts, Hung was able to not only cover his schooling and living costs, but also a few vacations to places like California, Burma, and Thailand.
“Being able to run these campaigns risk-free has made it a lot easier for me to attend university and go out and explore the world,” says Hung.
While it took time to build his organic following, Hung was creative about finding ways to continually engage and entertain his community. With a base of a few hundred thousand community members and several thousand loyal customers, Hung looks forward to releasing more limited edition merchandise in the future.
“At least once a day, someone emails me asking me when I’ll be releasing my next design. And that feels pretty awesome,” says Hung.