Every great business has to start somewhere. Steve Jobs constructed his first Apple computers in his basement during the mid 1970s after dropping out of college. Bill Gates wasn’t always a billionaire. He remarked in a speech in 2013 that he started coding his high school’s class schedules so that he could get into classes with more girls. Elon Musk created video games to get extra money in his wallet at the age of 12.
Two students here at SAS – seniors Michael McClearn and Toorjo Mishra – are following in these giants’ footsteps and have decided to get a head start on their dreams. They are the founders of a new startup called TeeSharks.
“At TeeSharks we produce and distribute T-shirts,” said co-founder and CFO Michael McClearn. “Toorjo [co-founder and CEO] and I are great friends. In the past we’ve always had little schemes and after talking about starting our own company, it was inevitable that one day we’d actually set out and do it.”
Mishra and McClearn recently opened up their company to the public in April, selling T-shirts through an online website that they created: www.teesharks.net. Since then, they have had a glimmer of success, selling over 100 T-shirts and launching three other shirt designs on their website. They have also recently expanded their staff, adding seniors John Butler as their designer and Callum Nesbitt as their head of marketing.
“What’s interesting is that no one at this school has really done anything quite like this,” said senior Landon Brown. “TeeSharks is one of the first well-known startup companies here at SAS. Not many other people have had the zeal or the inspiration to create their own business.”
CFO Michael McClearn claims that they chose to distribute T-shirts because the initial startup costs were relatively low. With low costs and low risk, the logistics behind the whole idea seemed very rational. “It was a natural choice,” said McClearn.
In addition to their quality, low costs, and unique designs, TeeSharks has also set out to give back to a less fortunate community of rural India. With their 1-for-1 program, the company will look at the number of shirts sold at the end of each month and donate the same number of shirts to charities and schools in Santiniketan, India, through the club Achieving Dreams. In addition to this, TeeSharks gets their shirts from the same community they are donating to. This program not only provides income for the local producers, but also provides quality shirts for the community of Santiniketan to wear.
“TeeSharks is an online retail store and a brand that aims to provide quality clothing and make a difference at the same time,” said Mishra. “We have two objectives.”
As young entrepreneurs, McClearn and Mishra have come across a multitude of issues in their production process. When the idea of TeeSharks was initially created, the two co-founders had to start from the bottom up, without any external guidance, to get the company started. “All the way from learning about the process of creating a business, to creating our first designs, to learning accounting and finance, to getting our word out through creative means, to making an ecommerce website – everything was a learning process,” said Mishra.
The first challenge the company faced was obtaining the proper startup capital and finding the right designs that would appeal to their target audience. Once that was complete, the co-founders had to seek out a manufacturer that would produce their products at a desired price. “Don’t think that making a business is easy or simple at all. Prepare for an uphill battle with a plethora of challenges to overcome. However, if you do manage to push through these obstacles, results can be phenomenal,” said Mishra.
The company is now at a stage where all of these challenges have been overcome. The test that lies ahead is whether or not their target audience will buy their product. And that’s just the beginning. TeeSharks, with their recent success, is already looking ahead towards the future.
“We are looking to expand in all aspects. Our target market is going to increase, our methods of sales, our designs, products, everything. We are also going to start shipping overseas and hopefully be able to advertise further. We may even expand beyond clothing,” said Mishra.
What the future holds for TeeSharks is uncertain, but it will be interesting to watch the journey of these two entrepreneurs creating one successful business.
If you are interested in purchasing any products from TeeSharks, please visit their website at www.teesharks.net.