My 4 hour startup ::

Last weekend, I launched an online business. In 4 hours. From idea, to a live website … and all within the comfort of my bedroom. I’m not telling you this to show off. Anyone could have done what I did.

OK sure, I started an online T-Shirt business, not a Nanotechnology business. But nonetheless, it’s incredible how much you can do these days with an internet connection, a laptop, and an idea.

The idea? Users submit memorable / funny / interesting Twitter posts, or Tweets each week. The best Tweet submitted each week is then turned into a real T-Shirt, ready to be printed and ordered online. I figure with the massive growth of Twitter at the moment, it was potentially a good idea.

I had the idea quickly, so wanted to implement it quickly. It was about 11:30 on a Friday night. I ran the idea past my wife. She didn’t look at me as though I was a complete lunatic. So I set myself a challenge to get the concept up and running before I went to bed that night.

(Yes, this post is also an admission that I’m often a Friday night computer nerd, but that’s another story)

I got started. I registered a domain name ( and a matching Twitter ID (@tweetmytee). I signed up from an account on Spreadshirt, the DIY T-shirt community site. I came up with a design for the T-shirt. I threw a logo together. I chose the T-shirt styles and colours. One style, 3 colours. Keep it simple. Keep moving quickly.

With a short deadline, I found myself in a strange rhythm. I deliberately made decisions in a split second:

How much to price the t-shirts for? How about $2 less than at Threadless.

What colours? The first 3 that spring to mind.

What does the logo look like? How about a simple bird design.

Has anyone done this idea before? Don’t know, no time to check right now.

And within 4 hours, I had the site up and running, with the first set of T-shirts up for sale. And I’d spent a total of $25 US (on the domain name) to make it happen.

So, my key point here is … that it’s easy to get a business started? It’s best to move quickly? To launch any idea that springs into your head?

Well, they’re part of it. Regardless of whether this idea will take off, it was a real learning experience to do something like this. To completely avoid planning, and to just jump in head first is definitely worth a try. And to make the most of the fact that it has never been easier to start a business (especially an online business) as it is now.

But my key point, I guess, is that you can’t just launch a business quickly and expect it to take off with only 4 hours of labour. If I really want my idea to gain traction, I have to nurture it like any other business.

I’m now finding myself spending more time than I’d initially planned to get the word out, to generate submissions for the next T-Shirt. Regular readers will know that I have a full time job AND another business, so perhaps I’ve bitten off more than is chewable. If entrepreneurship’s like a rollercoaster, this has been like the Mad Mouse.

And it isn’t easy. It hasn’t become a viral success like I imagined it might. I learnt that others have come up with similar concepts before. I’ve made a couple of major mistakes. And I haven’t sold a single T-shirt yet.

But you know what? It’s been fun. And it sure beats any of the crap on TV on a Friday night, anyway.

Who says I can’t be bought?

The key to a good marketing campaign these days is to start small.

That’s what The Ryde, a cool vintage T-Shirt site, have done by sending me some great new T-shirts, including this one and this one.

No doubt, a blogger-relations program is something that anybody should consider as a way of getting their word out about their product or service. But all too often, marketers will just choose a select list of A-List bloggers to reach out to, and hope that they orchestrate a word-of-mouth wildfire in the process.

A-List bloggers probably receive 10 requests like this a day. Even if your product or service is remarkable, the bigger bloggers are less likely to talk about you, because they just won’t have as much time.

My advice – start small. Reach out to C and D list bloggers like me instead. You’re more likely to gain flattery, which will ensure that the buzz will spread. Admittedly, you won’t get the overnight success. But these days, overnight success is pretty rare.

This is the first time anyone has sent me something to review or talk about on my blog. And naturally I’m going to. Not because I’ve been bought or bribed, but because I’ve been flattered. Someone has actually taken the time to reach me on a one-to-one basis, and so of course I’m going to spread the word about The Ryde.

I’ve had a truly excellent experience of this brand, and that’s why I’m letting you know. And I bet there’s others out there who are talking about The Ryde too.

So thanks to the Ryde for these cool T-shirts, one of which I’m proudly wearing today. Make sure you check out their T-shirts too, there’s plenty o’ goodness in their range.