Christian Heidorn is Making 9,000€ by Helping Print-on-demand Businesses Launch Faster

In this post, we are interviewing Christian Heidorn, who currently runs ThreadBasket, which he is bootstrapping at 9,000€ per month, helping print-on-demand businesses launch faster. Keep reading to know how.


[Xtartups Interviewer] What does your product or service do?

Stock design licensing for the print-on-demand industry.

[Xtartups Interviewer] What's your product's elevator pitch?

ThreadBasket is a stock design platform helping print-on-demand businesses launch faster, cheaper, and with better artwork. We are on a mission to provide high-end yet affordable artwork to thousands of print-on-demand stores so they can focus on what they do best: selling products.

[Xtartups Interviewer] Tell us a bit about your team.

We are 2 Co-Founders (Christian Heidorn & Felix Schuldt) and a team of 17 freelancers from all over the planet. We have been fully remote for most of our existence.

[Xtartups Interviewer] What motivated you to work on this product?

We founded ThreadBasket after turning our long-standing side-hustles and passion for digital art into a business.

We simply identified a need for higher-quality artwork at affordable pricing. Since launching, we've created more than 50,000 unique designs and have helped many people build their own online merch businesses.

[Xtartups Interviewer] Tell us where you are in this product/company's journey?

After an initial foray into exclusive image licensing models, which worked well for just over a year, we eventually realized that our business model at the time was neither sustainable nor scalable. We, therefore, decided to pivot in 2020 and have completely switched our business model from exclusive designs to stock design licensing.

We have also built a B2B licensing solution for print-on-demand fulfillers who seek to complement their customer value proposition with on-demand high-quality artwork by integrating via our API.

[Xtartups Interviewer] What has been your biggest learning moment in this journey?

Positive: Hitting 30,000€ in revenue in a single month (Dec 2018). Negative: Having to fire our 4 local student staff due to falling revenues (May 2019).

[Xtartups Interviewer] What has been your biggest validation for creating this product and taking it to the market?

We already had a lively Facebook community at the time. We simply built something that people asked us to build.

[Xtartups Interviewer] How did you find your first 10 customers?

Via our Facebook group. Our launch day was crazy (for us at least). The server crashed, lol.

[Xtartups Interviewer] If you weren't working on this product, which other product/idea would you be pursuing?

We both run other projects on the side, which are quite successful as well. I publish a bi-weekly research report called "The Heidorn Report" for Merch sellers and Felix built a merch research tool called Merch Ninja which was recently acquired.

[Xtartups Interviewer] Who is your favorite bootstrapped founder? And why?

I don't think I have a favorite bootstrapped founder. Bootstrapping is so difficult that I have tremendous respect for anyone who manages to be successful in this space or at least tries to be.

[Xtartups Interviewer] What book or podcast has helped you in this journey?

The "4 Hour Workweek" was instrumental in shaping my mindset early on in 2009. I bought it on a whim at the airport, but it set me on a clear path and open my eyes to so many things. I would not be where I am today if I had not read that book at the time.

[Xtartups Interviewer] What do you wish you knew when you started working on this idea?

That growth isn't necessarily linear and that demand for a product goes through its own hype cycles and can die off as quickly as it came. I would have done a few things differently if I had known that beforehand.

[Xtartups Interviewer] For someone who is thinking of starting a bootstrapped business, what would be the one thing they should watch out for?

Don't build something and believe that people will come by themselves.

So many people focus far too much on building new features. But new features barely have any effect on growth. At best they help you retain your existing customers. But growth requires you to focus on promoting the product you have and doing it in a consistent and significant way.

1 feature + promotion can go a long way. But 10 features with no promotion are unlikely to gain any traction.

Understanding the basics of online marketing and how to generate traffic, convert traffic to leads, and leads to customers, is a fundamental skill that most people do not have. Learn to sell and you will be set for life.

[Xtartups Interviewer] Are you hiring for any positions? If yes, how can people reach out to you?

Unfortunately, we are currently not hiring.