Posted November 18, 2014

“Workers of the world unite, you have nothing to lose but your chains.” Karl Marx, 1848

Karl Marx postulated that the worker would stand on the production line and become alienated (Entfremdung), eventually losing all awareness of not only the total product process but especially of their own connection and self-identity as they were non-stop producing part #326 all day long. Since workers didn’t own the means of production, they were shackled to the production line, earned a small part of the value, and had little chance of moving up the hierarchy. The idea of starting their own companies or founding their own businesses was not even worth daydreaming about.

Well, a little company called Teespring enables anyone with a little creativity, a few friends, or a deep passion to build a serious business.

A group of nurses raised over $200,000 dollars for their cause with a hoodie campaign: “Cute enough to stop your heart, skilled enough to restart it”. But more importantly, it’s not a one-time thing: The campaign is re-launchable in minutes, and has been run successfully over 30 times. Meanwhile, a store manager making $60,000 decided to become a Teespring entrepreneur. Today, he’s making over $500,000 using the sales and training tools available there, and has joined the hundreds of people making over six figures a year on the Teespring platform.

Those are just two stories. There are thousands of Teespring entrepreneurs that now have a creative voice, many of whom have never been entrepreneurs before. No upfront money, business school connections, or software programming required. All that’s required is will and creativity.

On the consumer side, people love the Teespring buying experience. A stunning 25% of shoppers re-socialize their purchases with friends in different social media — a sharing rate that’s off the charts for e-commerce businesses.

Under Walker Williams’ and Evan Stites-Clayton’s leadership, Teespring has established a large and growing economy — to date, the company has shipped over six million products to more than 80 countries.

This year alone, 1 in every 75 Americans have bought a Teespring product.

Teespring is starting with t-shirts but that is only the beginning — the company plans many new products in the coming months and years, and will continue to expand its platform globally. That’s why Khosla Ventures is leading the Series B round of funding and Keith Rabois is joining Evan, Walker, Sam Altman, and me on the board.

I think Marx would be pleased if he were alive to witness Teespring enabling anyone to make money and contribute to a new and bigger economy. While many people have come from “nothing” and made a lot, the “many” are in reality far too few. Most still find the path to creating their own businesses and increasing their income to be difficult and intimidating. With Teespring, those chains can be broken. The best part is that because it is a complete, end-to-end production platform that provides all the necessary software, design tools, and distribution, Teespring puts any potential entrepreneur in business instantly. Instead of being dependent on the means of production, people are empowered to create their own businesses on top of it — and more importantly, capture that value for themselves.

That’s why Teespring was my first investment with Andreessen Horowitz one year ago, and I could not be more excited to see what Teespring enables all of us to create next.

image: credit Braldt Bralds /  source Wikia (Creative Commons Attribution license)