Evan Jacover, VP of Engineering, at Jackbox Games knows a good idea when he sees it. Having been successful in the past with the mega-hit trivia comedy series You Don’t Know Jack, Jackbox was also the company behind the largely successful Who Wants to be a Millionaire CD-Rom in the 90s.
Jackbox Games went on to dabble in the mobile app market for a few years before finding a new niche developing collections of party games where players use their mobile devices as controllers. These Jackbox Party Packs have been a huge success, with each yearly edition offering five unique games with support for up to 10,000 players.
A few years ago, one of the games provided a unique opportunity to bring their digital product into the physical world. In October of 2016, Tee K.O. was born to rave reviews. While Evan wasn’t shocked by the success of the launch, an unexpected source of revenue enabled by the Gooten API was a much welcomed surprise.
The Launch of Tee K.O.
Perhaps you are already one of the tens of thousands of users who have played Tee K.O. and know the ridiculous fun of journeying to mysterious T-Shirt Island where you must “compete in an ancient and deadly fighting tournament with t-shirts.” Instead of fighting with fists, you fight with t-shirts! Everybody draws pictures and writes slogans, then they get swapped around to other players. Whoever puts together the best/funniest/stupidest shirt wins the battle!
After launching the t-shirt drawing game Tee K.O., the Jackbox team realized enabling their customers to buy the product they’d drawn was the logical next step. “If we’re making a game where players draw t-shirts and at the end of the game, you can’t buy the t-shirt, we’re idiots,” laughed Evan.
Quest for the Perfect Printing Partner
While Jackbox Games had been around for many years, the concept of printing on a physical product and creating a real artifact for their customers had not. This was one area they knew they needed someone else’s professional expertise.
“We needed a solution that would grow with our company,” said Evan, “and one that gave us the flexibility to capture artwork and payment and seamlessly route customer data for fulfillment.”
Print quality, reasonable pricing, broad product offerings, and scalable and easy-to-use technology led as the top requirements for a Jackbox fulfillment partner.
“We had very specific and custom needs and we had to find the perfect printing parter.”
Things initially did not go smoothly. They experienced limitations with other providers’ APIs, knowing they needed flexibility and a full range of technical functionality. The Jackbox team had many moving pieces to handle – everything technical needed to be coordinated and the API had to send all of the right messages and handle the right data at any given time.
“The main thing is finding the functionality. A lot of companies say they have an API, but it’s built specifically around what a lot of people are probably doing: having a shop that sells a handful of specific items that don’t change. We sell one item but every version of it is unique. Other companies didn’t have an API that was flexible enough to handle that.”
Discovering Gooten’s API Solution
Having finally made the decision to leave their first vendor, the Jackbox team found and landed on Gooten as their long-term fulfillment and technology partner.
“Gooten’s tools are super helpful and make our lives a lot easier. The quality of print from their print network is great, the prices are reasonable, and I love how Gooten offers a ton of great products to choose from.”
Having found the functionality they needed with the Gooten API, the Jackbox team began implementation and Gooten was there to support them along the way. “The support is exceptional. Whenever we send a request, we’d get a response right away. The best part of their support was working with Maddy [Gooten’s Director of Partner Success]. Having a contact who understands our business and what we’re trying to do is invaluable.”
Sustainable Growth with Gooten
The on demand t-shirt business for Jackbox has become an unexpected source of income for their company, even making its way onto the Jackbox quarterly finance reports, a badge of honor for Evan.
“For us, the price point is critical. We needed to be able to do this for under $20 and still make a profit. With Gooten, we can sell these shirts for $18 (shipping included) and still make a good amount of money per item sold.”
As Jackbox continues to expand, adding new products and games is easy with the Gooten API, and the Jackbox team has started using Gooten for more standard merchandise as well.
The Gooten team continues to support Jackbox post implementation, but more often than not, the t-shirt business runs itself. “The [Gooten] products get shipped out quickly, we get very few support requests on our end, and our customer support team has been very grateful with how much less work they have to do supporting our customers since we switched to Gooten,” says Evan.
To date, the Jackbox team has sold tens of thousands of shirts using Gooten’s technology. A creative marketing idea that had the simple goal of bonding their brand with their audience has turned into a surprising and lucrative source of sustainable revenue.