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Beginner's handbook Marketing tips

The What’s What of Merchandise for Startups

By Reading Time: 3 minutes

The cornerstone to any startup’s ascending path to stardom – the merchandise. How else do you get the word out about your new startup? The pitch events you go to, conferences, competitions, and networking events. You want people to know what you’re representing. The startup shirt has become such an iconic element that it has even sparked a snarky opposition movement.

Ok, some joking aside, merchandise for your startup is an awesome way to identify yourself and your team at big events, gain visibility, and even get in on some easy guerrilla marketing. Check out the different functions of startup merch, as well as the quickest and most pain-free ways of getting your stuff in the internet age.

Benefits of merchandise for startups – Guerilla marketing, visibility and branding

Merch is great. It’s an excellent way to get your logo and name under even more people’s eyes. Why does this matter? You’ll be increasing visibility, that many more people will have seen your logo, and when people need the service that you’re offering, then they’ll at least know that you offer it.

You can use merch in different ways. As a minimum, you and your team can flaunt your merch all over town, at conferences, and at networking events. You can show your belonging to your startup, and by being a cool person, your startup becomes cool by association (note: make sure that you’re nice while flaunting your merch – you don’t want to represent your startup badly, talk about backfiring!).

The second way you can use your merch is by offering it to the world. If they like your stuff, you can buy their t-shits. They get to show that they’re fans of your startup to the world, and you get a walking billboard. Some startups will even send merch to their most engaged users to become brand embassadors.

All in all, having merch is a great way to improve visibility, and also give your biggest fans a way to show their love and admiration of your company. Especially if your put a store where they can buy the merch, then you can even profit by selling t-shirts as a by-product.

Where to get your merch online


Founder of Uldis' laptop
Founder of Uldis Leiterts’ laptop

People love stickers. Especially in the startup industry, stickers go everywhere. They can serve as ice breakers at events, they show you the person’s affiliation, by which you can deduce which region they’re from, which industry they belong to, who their investors are or which products they advocate., one of the leading startups in building infographics is an active user of stickers in their marketing. Their brand embassadors place them all over. Founder Uldis Leiterts at one startup event told a story about meeting a potential partner for The only reason they agreed to meet was allegedly because they had recognized the sticker and logo from a door frame in a California startup space.

One place you can get your own stickers is Sticker Mule (bonus, get a 10$ credit if you sign up from this link). We use them to print our stickers.

(note: Printful doesn’t offer stickers, but it’s such an attractive form of merch that we just couldn’t leave it out!)


The startup t-shirt is iconic. Years later when your startup is acquired by Google, you’ll longingly gaze at your pride possession – your first startup t-shirt – and remember the early days of pizza, no sleep and growth hacking your startup.

Each Silicon Valley startup will have their t-shirt, and it’s no coincidence. T-shirts can denote company culture, belonging, and more. This is all eloquently put together in this blog post by Adam Nash, an employee at LinkedIn.

Where to get them

  • Printful – easy online orders. Also the best option if you want your t-shirts to be available for purchase the the public with no down payments
  • Local printers – if you’re only looking for a small batch for your team and you don’t have time to wait for shipping, then this may be your best bet
  • Startup Threads – a place that specializes in startup t-shirts, but will require upfront payment

Join the big leagues, sell your stuff like these pros

Here are just a few tech startups that have the right idea. They’ve created their own merch, so that people who really enjoy their brand can get a piece for themselves.


Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 14.30.20


Interesting note – Stipe sells their t-shirts at $10 a pop, which is significantly lower than the price of production, let alone market value. They do this because the recognize the benefit of have people walk around the world sporting their t-shirt, so it can be written off as a marketing expense.

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 14.31.15


Github has a host of cool t-shirts, including a clever fill-in-the-blank username shirt. What a great way to use white space!


Github also evidently uses Shopify to run their store. There are so many great and easy to use options available now. Gumroad, for example, even lets you embed a “buy” button anywhere, so you can sell merch straight from your site.

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  1. Robert Morris

    I`m creating t/shirts, posters and artwork for the homeless …..and thanks to Printful I can change the message quickly, and delivery the shirt globally. Just wish they provided hemp!

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