025: Using Crowdsourcing In Ecommerce To Go From A $1,000 Startup To A $30 Million Plus Behemoth – Jake Nickell, Threadless.com

Hosted by: Austin Brawner with Jake Nickell

Crowdsourcing in ecommerce isn't exactly a new thing, but Jake Nickell of Threadless is credited with starting the trend.

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Jake Nickell threadless

Crowdsourcing in ecommerce isn’t exactly a new thing, but Jake Nickell of Threadless is credited with starting the trend.

A trend that helped his company hit $30 million plus.

Jake co-founded Threadless in 2000, a company based out of Chicago that combines an online community of artists and an eCommerce website.

He started Threadless with just $1,000 of his own money and has since seen revenues go from $1.5 million in 2004, $6.5 million in 2006, and the most recent estimate puts revenues as high as $30 million in 2011.

Each week, about 1,000 designs are submitted online and are put to a public vote. After further review and some additional scoring and feedback, 10 designs are chosen, printed on clothing and other products, and then sold worldwide through the online store, selling about 120,000 t-shirts per month.

Jake made “crowdsourcing” an essential part of the business plan (even though he doesn’t use the term anymore because of the way it is now perceived), building a thriving community that consists of 2.5 million+ members that have helped him build his business from a $1,000 startup to a $30 million behemoth.

In this episode, he’s going to talk to us today about his online path to $30million+.

Topics Discussed Throughout This Interview

  • Becoming the “Coolest Dude On Earth”….seriously, Google that phrase. He ranks #1.
  • How the idea of Threadless came about.
  • Using crowdsourcing in ecommerce to hit $30 million+
  • His focus on partnerships and how it’s helping his company.
  • Going 8 years without spending even a penny on advertising.
  • The other ideas that failed while Threadless survived and thrived and what he learned from those experiences.
  • Why Jake is focusing on what Threadless does best and sticking with those.
  • Why he no longer likes or uses the term crowdsourcing to describe his business model.
  • His take on creating experiences for customers.
  • What Jake would do differently if he started Threadless again today.


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