The Market

College could be defined as the last four years of your life in which it’s socially acceptable to wear a t-shirt everyday, everywhere, to everything.

This depends on your definition of socially acceptable, of course. The Internet has taken to making fun of sorority girls, in particular, for the omnipresence of extra-large t-shirts in the Greek community. I believe the technical term is “lampshading” these days.

Courtesy of The Odyssey

Big shoutout to The Odyssey for providing essential and substantive content like a price definition and term for the above style. Where you and I see meme potential, two former UT students see business opportunity.

The Business

GroupThreads is a t-shirt ordering company based in Austin, Texas. Focusing on a client base of university students, the startup capitalizes on the lampshade needs of Greek communities nationwide.

GroupThreads streamlines and combines the design, ordering, manufacturing and delivery processes of mass t-shirt orders for sororities and fraternities. It’s composed of a full time team of 11 employees and an intern, as well as 19 external Campus Managers and contracted designers. GroupThreads brings their t-shirt designs to live via partnerships with manufacturers both within Texas and across the nation.

The Acquisition

About five months ago, GroupThreads had an operations bottleneck. Manufacturing, design and delivery processes could not keep up with demand, and only 65% of orders were delivered to the customer on-time. When current president and COO Keagan Wernicke took over in March 2016, he spent the summer cleaning up the operations, hiring staff and fail-proofing the design process. With the on-time delivery stats up to 97%, Wernicke, CEO Zach Cook and the rest of the team are now focused on the newest — and possibly biggest — GroupThreads move yet: an acquisition.

“If you had told me a year ago that I would acquire a company before having a company acquired, I would never have believed you. It was completely unexpected,” Wernicke said.

Capital Factory mentor Matt Bell, founder of BrewDrop, introduced Wernicke and Cook to the company GroupThreads would eventually acquire, oneGreek.

oneGreek is the largest Greek life media outlet in existence, with over 6,000 fraternities and sororities from across the U.S. signed on. Users can post photos to their own house’s stream or view other’s.

“I was skeptical there could be any synergy. It’s a social media outlet, and that’s completely outside of what we do,” Wernicke said.

What GroupThreads quickly realized, however, was that along with oneGreek’s social platform came 279,000 user phone numbers. 81,000 of these phone numbers are verified as active fraternity and sorority members.

“This is any sales company’s dream,” Wernicke said.

The deal closed mid-October, and GroupThreads officially acquired oneGreek. Their first step was to post job listings on Indeed and AngelList in search of sales reps. After application reviews and interviews, GroupThreads hired three inside sales reps whose sole focus is calling those phone numbers.

Because oneGreek now operates within GroupThreads, Wernicke and the team have the right to utilize contact information. Because of the acquisition they now have access to 6,000 sorority and fraternity chapters nationwide, a mouth-watering chunk of potential customers in the precise target market of the company.

The Success

GroupThreads is on the path to major expansion, growing from an already successful position. And did I mention that the majority of the GroupThreads team is under the age of 25?

Wernicke dropped out of the University of Texas at Austin in 2015 to pursue entrepreneurship full time, and he says he does not regret that decision. The 21-year-old admits only to sleep deprivation. At peak crunch time, Wernicke approximated an average of 120 hours spent working per week.

“People do what the leadership does,” Wernicke said.

When the leaders are working as hard as humanly possible, it’s easy to get everyone on the team motivated and productive.

“It doesn’t feel like going to work, usually. It really is my dream job to be able to run my own business,” Wernicke said.

Up next for GroupThreads?

Hiring additional middle management at the start of November, taking supply chain to the next level, and continuing to dial their way to success through 81,000 phone numbers.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here