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Udacity’s Teespring story: uniting a community & supporting a cause with custom swag

Do you want to create custom swag for a special group, event, or community? Teespring has got you covered! Take Udacity’s story for example; Joanna Buchmeyer and Magda Zochowska are community managers at Udacity—an organization whose mission is to make education affordable and accessible for everyone. They have the exciting opportunity to work with 6,000 students (located in Europe, the Middle East and Africa) who have received a Udacity Nanodegree scholarship from Google. Their community recently decided to use Teespring to create custom student swag (merchandise) in a fun and engaging way. 

“Our scholarship community is really vibrant and active but members are geographically spread out all over the world. We found Teespring provided a solution for the challenge of shipping globally as well as the budgetary issues—it’s difficult to have enough resources to provide 6K students with swag. Teespring is great because it lets everyone purchase their own merchandise and decide exactly what they want!” — Joanna, Community Manager @ Udacity

Students sport their community swag!


Using Teespring to create custom merch

Students in the scholarship program have the chance to earn four life-changing Nanodegrees in Android or web development. These degrees prepare them for employment opportunities in the tech industry as developers. Receiving this scholarship can have a real, positive impact on students’ lives as well as the lives of their families and local communities.

Students in the program are located all over the world and interact with each other online. They enjoy being part of the virtual community but wanted to create custom merch to connect with each other offline too. The challenge, however, was finding a platform that enabled them to create products that ship all over the world with no upfront costs or fulfillment hassle.

Scholarship recipient with his community hoodie

Udacity content creator shows his support for community with merch

This is where Teespring comes in. One student from the program, Abbie Turner, took it upon herself to find a way to create student swag for the entire community. She searched online for a platform that was easy to use and offered global delivery. After exploring a few options it became clear Teespring was the perfect solution.

“I needed to find a site that catered to the students in areas around the world. I found Teespring offered exactly what we were looking for—an easy way to upload designs, customer support for shipping and the option to send all donations to trusted charities. I love how little you have to do to run an online shop on Teespring and the customer service is really great!” — Abbie, Scholarship Program Recipient

Once the students decided to use Teespring the next step was hosting a design competition for the community.


Building excitement with a design competition

Getting a community involved in the design process is a great way to engage followers and ensure you’ll create something they’ll love! Design competitions are fun and get people excited about purchasing your products too. Just look at the success of the Google Dev Scholars design competition to see how effective it can be.

Abbie helped create a design competition page on the scholarship community’s website

Joanna, Magda, Abbie, and the rest of the students got together to host the design competition. Abbie created a website and asked everyone to submit their designs for consideration. Then the entire community voted on their favorites. Five winners were selected and the designs were added to products on Teespring.

Student swag shop on Teespring

Once the products were live on Teespring, Abbie set up a store so the community could view all the items in one place. In the spirit of giving, they also chose to donate their profits to a special cause. So far the students have sold hundreds of items and successfully raised funds for the charity of their choice.

“The students chose the charity weCare Africa because it’s a foundation that works to eradicate poverty through educational resources in rural sub-Saharan Africa. Our program scholars are all scholarship students themselves and therefore understand how important it is to give support to education.” — Joanna, Community Manager @ Udacity


Using merch to encourage community engagement

Joanna says the design competition and custom merch has helped strengthen the group’s sense of community and has created new opportunities for students to interact with one another.

“The student community is beaming with pride! We have a Slack channel for the student swag, and there are new photos every day of students sportin’ their shirts and hoodies from across the globe. We have one student who had professional headshots taken in his Google Developer Udacity Swag and another bought a hoodie for his mother that says ‘Never Stop Learning’.” Joanna, Community Manager @ Udacity

Family members support the community too

Scholarship recipient wearing his “never stop learning” tee

Scholarship recipient with her community shirt

These interactions are the perfect example of social proof, a useful marketing tool which community managers can use to generate excitement around their product offering.

“It’s fun to see how excited and enthusiastic everyone is about the merch. Having some collective pieces that unify this community together, like a t-shirt, coffee mug or sweatshirt, has allowed everyone to show off their pride and cheer each other on as they continue on their learning path to the finish line!”  — Joanna, Community Manager @ Udacity

The Teespring Team would like to thank Joanna, Magda, Udacity, and all the students in the Google Developer Nanodegree Scholarship Program for sharing their story!  Click here to learn more about how Teespring works and how you can use it to connect with your community too.

Ready to create custom merch for your community?




4 responses to “Udacity’s Teespring story: uniting a community & supporting a cause with custom swag

  1. Tané Tachyon says:

    I have two of these shirts, and love them, and love this article — thanks for running it!

    1. Kate Shoaf says:

      We’re glad to hear it Tané! 🙂

  2. kadir ariyanto says:

    Kreatifitas seni dengan media kaos mengispirasi visi & misi untuk menyatukan perbedaan di era globalisasi.

  3. Rick B says:

    Just altogether Awesome

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