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Bountee possibly finding the road to success

A few days ago, I complained openly about how irritated I was with Bountee’s exclusivity with a post called Bountee doomed to fail. Sometime in the wee hours last night, Steve from Bountee left the following comment on that post:

Hi CK,

It’s Steve from Bountee here – and I just wanted to say a few words in response to your post if I may.

Firstly, you’re right.

It’s too much of an autocratic process at the moment and we’re working on a more ‘community led’ solution as I type.

We have been quite simply swamped with the number of designs that we have received; but that hasn’t been the issue. What we have been more than a little surprised at is the content of a lot of these ‘designs’. Something which we had hoped that limiting our submissions to SVG only would have gone some way to resolve.

Over the weekend we received submissions that included (the perhaps obvious) crudely drawn penises, blatantly copyrighted imagery, text with arabic script (which we didn’t have translated) alongside celebratory pictures of the twin towers burning, white power slogans and various levels of offensive material too numerous to mention.

We also fell victim to a lot of people testing out the the system with clipart and similar style artwork.

It appears that your line drawing fell foul to an over zealous team.

We haven’t been transparent with our process – and that is a mistake (hindsight is a great thing right? :/ ) but just so that you know; every design is approved (or not) by a chain of individuals and the majority decision of this ‘group’ is taken as the final decision of approval. Quite how your design didn’t make it through the process is unclear to me – and I’ll be sure to go off and check – but we had hoped and still, genuinely believe that for the moment this is a system that is working ‘ok’ for now.

We’re sorry that it has resulted in some ‘rogue’ refusals and we are frantically trying to make the whole thing more robust.

What I will say – in our defense though – is that we are literally 1 week old, and are not a multi-million dollar funded company with cash reserves and allusions to a fancy, cash rich exit strategy. We’re just a couple of guys who built a t-shirt site in our spare time and who wanted to share it with our peers.

And I hope that we’ll learn as much as we share.

Apologies again.

Apologies accepted! Here’s my unasked for recommendations:
1. Start a Bountee blog and be entirely and totally transparent about what you’re dealing with.
2. Don’t make excuses about being just a couple of guys. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak were once just a couple of guys building computers in their garages.
3. Build a community. Rather than policing each individual design, police the accounts. Make a clear set of rules about what is and what is not considered appropriate behavior for your community. Allow everything to be added as a shirt design, but only feature the shirts of people you handpick / who have been voted on by the community as cool shirt designs. If someone uploads something that violates your terms of service (like a penis or the twin towers burning etc etc) then ban the account (and thereby automatically eradicate their designs from your system) and blog about it without pointing fingers directly identifying the culprit (i.e., “Today someone uploaded Goatse, which clearly violates our ‘NO Goatse’ clause, so we had to ban that person’s account.”)
4. Rethink your rejection copy. It’s really off-putting right now with the lovey dovey robots playing thought police.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Victor Agreda Jr 4/17/2007, 9:01 am

    This is really the nice thing about small companies, and something you find regularly when dealing with shareware authors (on Mac apps anyway)– a willingness to listen and modify.

    Amazing how transparency changes things. It appeals to our desire to simply know what is going on. Like when you track a package, wouldn’t you feel better if you could actually track the journey on a map or something? Information is key, and transparency provides the consumer with that info.

  • Steve 4/17/2007, 9:08 am

    Hey C.K.

    Just a quickie in response to the response of my response (I think I got that right).

    First off, cheers for the dialogue – it’s nice to talk shop with people who obviously care about it.

    So anyway…

    1) The blog is there – has been since before the site launch actually; http://blog.bountee.com

    2) It was supposed to be less of an excuse and rather a highlight of ‘potential mitigating circumstances’. It’s the truth sadly – but who knows, maybe one day we can do this full time?

    3) It’s hard to build a community when policing the accounts I think? (maybe). We’ve looked at this all along from very much a community perspective and really believe that approving individual designs is a better strategy long-term than just ‘whacking’ an account because one design was perhaps mis-placed.

    It’s a tough call to be sure – and like I say in my earlier comment, we’re already working on a solution much the same as that which you have reiterated here. And it it *will* be a ‘community led’ solution.

    4) You find lovey-dovey robots off-putting? Where’s your sense of romance? :) Seriously, we’ve tried to be as gentle and honest throughout all of this as we can – you only have to read our T’s & C’s to see that ‘transparency’ is more important to us than anything. BUT based on your comments – and those from others who have expressed similar sentiments we are working on being a little more erudite with the response.

    We’re going to get better I assure you – because people like yourselves are helping us to do so.

    Cheers again!

  • Steve 9/3/2007, 3:34 am

    Hey again,

    I don’t know why – buy your blog posts have been bothering me since I first read them. Perhaps it was because they are the only, real negative feedback that we have received. I dunno… The fact is we understood your problems so thanks for the critique.

    And with that said I just wanted you to know that we have changed Bountee a lot in the past couple of months, so much so that you’ll no longer receive any rejections at all. ANYONE is welcome to design and print at Bountee now.

    Perhaps, if you’re not so jaded, you’ll pop over and take a fresh look?

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