Meet Franco Ronci, the co-founder of BulkCustomShirts.com. BulkCustomShirts began life as a digital marketing firm in 2012, when they discovered they worked with super talented people who had loads of experience producing custom t-shirts and hats. Using this expertise, they were able to tap into the market but do it better through improved tech and extensive research. Today, they make over $100,000 in monthly revenue per month and have over 25 employees on their books, who are more than just staff but are like family.
While creating custom t-shirts isn’t a new concept, beating competitors who have been in the industry for years is no mean feat. We want to find out how Franco and his team achieved this, so we grab him for a chat to find out more.
Who are you and what brand did you start?
My name is Franco Ronci and I’m the co-founder of BulkCustomShirts.com. We produce some of the best custom t-shirts, hats, apparel, and tons of awesome promotional products for businesses, events, and organizations.
We have multiple offices across Texas, but we work and ship to clients all over the nation. We’ve traveled a long road to get to where we are today, from printing from a small apartment to now running one of the biggest promotional product factories in Texas.
How did you come up with the idea, brand name and logo for Bulk Custom Shirts?
We actually started as a digital marketing firm back in 2012, until we coincidentally hired some awesome staff that had tons of experience producing custom t-shirts and hats. After doing some intensive research, we figured out that we could use our tech expertise to promote our brand digitally better than most custom promotional product manufacturers out there.
We were also fortunate to have acquired the domain BulkCustomShirts.com, which led to developing our name and brand “Bulk Custom Shirts”. Our logo was developed by our in-house team of amazing graphic designers. Our goal was to create a logo as easy to remember as our name “Bulk Custom Shirts”. I think our team did an excellent job at keeping everything simple and clean, just like how our web developers built our easy-to-use website BulkCustomShirts.com.
Describe the process of launching Bulk Custom Shirts?
When we started producing our first physical products - custom t-shirts, we purchased a manual screen printing press and decided to convert my two-bedroom apartment into a small production house. Little did I know, we were going to have to convert closets into dark rooms in order to produce our custom screens, and eventually ended up with a patio covered in ink and emulsion from pressure washing our used print screens. It was a mess and probably one of the most stressful times of our lives.
We went through about a year of selling custom t-shirts during the day and printing throughout the night, which was definitely a rough time, but it really helped shape us into who we are today.
We couldn’t be more grateful to the organizations that took the leap of faith of working with a brand new print shop, and it’s incredible that some of our first clients are still some of our closest accounts to this day.
We’re also incredibly proud that after only one year producing promotional products, we were able to fulfill one of the largest live screen printing events in the nation; we printed over 5000 shirts live for one of the biggest tech companies in the world. It was at that point that we knew we had one of the best production teams out there, so we kept pushing to take the business to the next level.
Since launch, what has worked best to attract and retain customers?
Being that we originally started as a web development firm, naturally our main focus has been expanding and improving our web presence in order to get in front of our target market. This has been one of our best ways to help get ahead of the competition when it comes to finding us online.
Once we start collaborating with a new prospect, I like to think we win them over with our low prices, super knowledgeable and friendly staff, and we keep them coming back after they see how great our products turn out.
Ultimately, we’re in the relationship building business - we want to help and grow with the organizations we work with, not only help them one time. This has been our best strategy to help retain most of our clients, and we’re incredibly grateful for everyone that’s worked with us.
How is the business doing today and what does the future look like?
Bulk Custom Shirts today has exceeded our expectations. We have a wonderful team that we call our family, our factory is 100% one of the most organized shops in the nation, and we continue to bring on awesome new clients every day. We’ve been able to develop a great marketing team, an extremely skilled production team, and a super knowledgeable and friendly sales staff team – not an easy accomplishment in this business!
As for the future, we’re constantly improving every aspect of the business and hitting our targets in terms of growth and development. Our goal is to become the “go-to” promotional product and custom apparel company in the US
What’s been the biggest learning experience since starting your own brand?
One of the biggest learning experiences for us has been that the business founders can’t do everything or be the best at everything. Hiring people that are better than you at their specific trade is a crucial first step towards owning a business, and not just giving yourself a job. If it wasn’t for our awesome team, we would not be where we are today. So we’re extremely grateful for the people that have worked with us through the good and the bad times. It’s been an awesome experience and I know most of our staff will be our close friends throughout life inside and outside the workplace.
What marketing tools do you use to run Bulk Custom Shirts?
The platforms and tools we’ve used to grow the business have been invaluable at keeping us organized and on-time with all of our orders. Some of the platforms we use were developed in-house in order to reduce monthly software licensing and overhead costs, therefore passing along our savings to our clients.
I would say our most valuable back-end tools have been our project management software and our CRM systems, which allow our team to communicate and track order progress seamlessly. We’ve actually had a couple of print shop owners who’ve been in the industry for decades tell us how impressed they were with our systems. That for us is a huge honor and a good hint that we were on the right track.
*Find full list of tools/platforms at the bottom of the page.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts or other educational resources?
I think two of the best resources for any entrepreneur has to be Google and Youtube. There’s really no better way of finding information immediately, whether it’s for reactive learning or proactive R&D.
However, I have to mention that one of my favorite podcasts that I’ve been listening to ever since before I was an entrepreneur is Todd Uterstaedt’s “From Founder to CEO”. I really like how Todd interviews tons of different CEO’s, and you get to hear their own personal stories to help derive what you need from them, rather than a host that just tries to give you their own opinion on everything. I definitely recommend it.
Who have been the most influential people for you during this business journey?
I’d have to say that the most influential people during our journey has been my family. I come from a long line of entrepreneurs; I think everyone from my grandparents to my parents and all of my aunts and uncles own and operate one sort of business or another.
My grandparents immigrated to the US with pretty much nothing but the shirts on their backs, and somehow they were able to grow one of their businesses into the largest buckle manufacturer in Latin America. Having to fill shoes that big early on was one of my biggest motivating factors to start my own business.
What drives me now is the feeling of gratitude knowing that my business supports other families. Hopefully one day I’ll be the inspiration for others to reach for their dreams.
Any advice you’d like to share for other aspiring entrepreneurs?
My advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to always keep pushing and always keep learning. The journey isn’t easy and you need to be ready for countless sleepless nights, drained bank accounts, and stressful days - especially at the beginning.
If you’re thinking about starting a business, do your research and save as much money as possible before you jump into the deep end on your own. Maybe you’ll hit a home run right off the bat, but if not just keep working as hard as you can despite people telling you to quit (many will).
Watch your resources and spend your money wisely, it goes very quickly and it takes a good amount of revenue to be able to make a good living and make your investment back. However, don’t forget to budget for advertising. I recommend a mix of digital advertising and promotional product giveaways, because it’s very hard to succeed when no one knows who you are.
Lastly, be sure to hire talented people. Your business’s success relies heavily on the team you build, so build a great one!'Do your research and save as much money as possible before you jump into the deep end on your own.'Click To Tweet
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now or open to new investors?
We have a pretty close-knit team, so most of our staff stays with us for years. However, we’re always open to getting to know new talented individuals because we definitely plan to keep expanding and we’ll need a bigger staff family to help.
We’ve actually never needed outside investors before - all of our business ventures have been funded by my business partner, Dr. David Nekuyi, and myself. That being said, if the right offer came along at a fair valuation, we do have shares set aside for investor capital.
Where can we go to learn more about your current offers/promotions/programs?
Most of the thousands of products we produce can be easily found on our website, “BulkCustomShirts.com”, and ordering is incredibly simple. We also have friendly products specialists readily available to live chat on our website if you have any questions, as well as contract pricing for our corporate accounts.
Our goal is to make working with us as fun and easy as possible, while offering incredible value through our quality and pricing.