USC startup creates T-shirt bidding war

For college students attempting to get good pricing on Greek rush apparel or searching for the perfect student club shirt, ordering custom T-shirts can be a hassle. Sometimes the time and effort required to find quality printed tees at a reasonable price can be more trouble than it’s worth.

A new product launched by USC students, however, has an answer for that.

Started by juniors Jason Wei and Sarah Bernosky, taggle centralizes the screen-printing market by bringing together customers seeking to order custom apparel with local mom-and-pop screen printers. On taggle’s site, customers post their T-shirt order and local printers bid against each other to secure the business order.

Create your own · Brothers of USC Kappa Sigma show off custom-ordered T-shirts from taggle. The fraternity used the site for spring rush. -  Photo courtesy of Jason Wei

Create your own · Brothers of USC Kappa Sigma show off custom-ordered T-shirts from taggle. The fraternity used the site for spring rush. — Photo courtesy of Jason Wei

As there are hundreds of printers in Los Angeles alone, the bidding process allows students to get a better deal on bulk orders. At the same time, it helps local printers tap into the college market.

“Through the implementation of this reverse-auction model, the competitive bidding process adds value to both buyer and seller; customers get the best prices for their shirts without the hassle, and printers have easy access to new business,” Wei said.

Using taggle is simple. A customer goes to taggle’s website and provides the basic order details such as quantity, color and brand. Then, they use a design tool to drag and drop pre-made graphics and text or upload photos from their computers. Once they have completed their design, it is posted to the site and email notifications are then sent to taggle’s network of printers.

Printers can then compete for the business by updating their bids over a 24-hour period until the competition closes. At this time, the customer can then select a competitively priced printer.

“We hope to revolutionize the way people order custom apparel. With the reverse-auction model, a true win-win situation is created for both printers and customers,” Wei said. “EBay and Amazon were able to change the way people shopped online. Taggle’s goal is to change the way people order custom apparel.”

The idea for taggle came to Wei after facing numerous frustrations with the world of custom-apparel ordering himself. He realized that the current way of ordering custom T-shirts was extremely inefficient and that there was an opportunity for a business to change the game and make an immediate impact on the market.

“After noticing friends in different fraternities and student organizations getting constantly ripped off by national printers, I started looking into the specific problems with this current method,” Wei said.

When researching the custom T-shirt market, he discovered that there were two main routes people took when ordering custom T-shirts for their clubs. The first route, using large companies (CustomInk, Kotis Design), makes custom ordering extremely easy to do, but is very pricey in exchange. The second route forces people to spend hours looking for specific quotes from various local printers. Though one might get a better deal in the end, the hours that can go into the process make it frustrating and tedious.

Wei came up with the idea of using a reverse-auction model to solve both problems in one fell swoop.

“No longer do people have to settle with one benefit and one cost,” he said. “Using taggle’s reverse-auction system allows customers to get the best prices on the market with an extremely easy-to-use service.”

The initial customers are college student organizations, Wei said.

Because of this, he said, taggle is focused on increasing its presence among USC students. Since its launch in January, taggle has worked with seven USC student organizations: Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, Kappa Sigma Fraternity, Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity, Delta Chi Fraternity, TAMID and the Kurth/Park Undergraduate Student Government campaign. Part of taggle’s agenda is to positively impact the USC community by providing a service that student leaders can trust and enjoy.

“As someone involved in several USC organizations, I can personally relate to the poor experiences that club leaders have had with ordering something as integral as T-shirts,” Wei said.

The business has gained momentum by reaching out to club leaders and inquiring about spring T-shirt plans at USC and UCLA, the two locations taggle has targeted. Doing so has allowed the company to gain enough orders to test its beta model.

Currently, taggle is focused on learning from its beta round by making significant upgrades and additions to the website. Wei said the goal is to perfect the process as much as possible on these two campuses and then scale to other universities.

Wei said that taggle would not be where it is today without the university.

“USC really lends a huge hand with young student entrepreneurs and our team have been appreciative of the benefits we’ve enjoyed from that,” Wei said. “Needless to say, the Trojan Family and strong alumni network has benefited us tremendously as well.”

For Wei, the very best thing about taggle is the core team it has put together. Taggle is crosstown collaboration of USC and UCLA students besides Wei and Bernosky: There’s Connor Eichten, co-founder and CFO who is a sophomore at UCLA studying business economics, and Chris Del Guercio, co-founder and CTO, who is a senior studying computer engineering and computer science.

“The team that taggle has right now is not only innovative, passionate and bright, but also extremely well-equipped to adapt to tough circumstances in the future,” Weigh said. “I am fully confident that with this team, we will be able to scale at a high level and achieve a large amount of success in the future.


For more information, check out taggle’s Facebook page and its website


2 replies
  1. alex
    alex says:

    oh wow, greater competition produces less cost to consumer and the creation of more business? wow what a concept, but I though capitalism was evil?

  2. Garrett Kaule
    Garrett Kaule says:

    You need my bank account and routing number? Sure, let me do that! As a printer being in an already competitive market, I have no interest in this. Sure, if you want to see who can go out of business first, be my guest. I’m keeping my doors open, producing a top quality product and service. If I was in my basement, I may reconsider joining this website.

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