With a new crop of tools like Klout measuring your online influence and others like What’s My Twitter Account Worth attaching a monetary value to your social worth, the race is on for how many Twitter followers you can get. But the age-old question remains: how?
“My co-founder and I wanted to do something different,” says Wong. “When people think of ‘startups,’ they think of location-based services, software developers and dot-com companies. We wanted to do something that doesn’t require a smartphone, logging on, or getting your friends to join a social network.”
After brainstorming, Wong and Alfonzo realized the answer lies in the shirt on your back. “Even if you pay good money for a nice graphically-designed tee, when you wear it at a birthday party or a friend’s house, it’s not going to get a conversation started,” says Wong. “We thought, ‘Why don’t we create something that is a conversation starter?’”
The result: Tweetee, a company that designs custom t-shirts with your Twitter handle splashed across the front. On the back, customers have the option of printing a hashtag representing their personality, “whether it’s “#voteforobama, #ilovecats or #princess,” says Wong.
Just launched in September 2011, in the past five months, Tweetee has truly proven that people want to wear their Twitter handles on their chest. Eighty percent of their sales thus far are from Massachusetts customers, due in large part to Wong wearing the shirts to a slew of networking events across Boston. “For me, it’s such a conversation starter. [The shirt is] the first thing that people see before my business card,” he says. “I get a lot of questions like, ‘Where did you buy that shirt?’”
“But it should not be worn only to networking events. We do not want to create that image, actually,” says Wong, explaining that the tees should be worn on all occasions. For example, one of their models wears her shirt to the Boston Public Library when she’s studying for exams. “We don’t want to just be a t-shirt company; we want to be a personal branding company that helps people get more followers.”
Tweetee’s focus in 2012 reflects that mission. “If step one is buying the shirt, what’s step two? Events,” says Wong, answering his own question. The site will eventually showcase tweet-ups and other events going on in the area so that when a customer purchases a shirt, they’ll immediately garner ideas about where to wear it.
Additionally, the duo hopes to place continued focus on the customizable hashtags on the back of the shirt. By creating a different hashtag for different types of events, customers will be more inclined to purchase multiple tees. “The idea is they’ll buy two or three different shirts – one for networking, another for birthday parties and another for gatherings,” explains Wong.
Tweetee shirts are also one to two percent organic, and the co-founders are planning to capitalize on that more this year, starting with the introduction of brown and green tees, which are more eco-friendly than other colors.
What are some of the most fun hashtag they’ve seen? Tim has one that says #birthdayboy for various birthday celebrations he attends. Even better? “There was one that said #youwish, printed on a women’s hot pink shirt,” says Wong. Awesome.
The tees are $25 each — plus $5 for shipping — and are available in both men’s and women’s sizes in navy blue, light blue and hot pink. Want to see what one looks like in real life? You can spot Wong wearing one tonight at the BostInno Insider Awards. Now, you’ll have the perfect fuel to strike up a conversation with him!