Why did Speakteesy die?

by Ryan Cook

So, there's this thing called Speakteesy. You may have seen it mentioned before around here as it is one of our Moshi Moshi Co. experiments.

Speakteesy Logo

To start with a bit of backstory, Speakteesy was born out of the funny and ridiculous situations that occur at the office. Not just any office though, but everyones' office. Someone calls you a "broccoli gorilla" and you're just trying to be healthy. People keep bringing the box to be shipped back inside thinking it's a delivery. Seriously, even random passersby are trying to bring it inside. You're probably thinking "this poor poor person has such inane, no, mundane experiences at work." The reality though is that these things are hilarious in context with your coworkers, regardless of outside perspective. So, we wanted a way to capture them in a fun way and t-shirts were what we decided on. Our original codename was "blackshirt" because we wanted them all printed with white text on black shirts.

As programmers, we dreamt of beautiful mobile apps. Boom, a t-shirt arrives. We dreamt of a hip CLI. Boom, more t-shirts. We were caught daydreaming about wonderful APIs that allowed people to order shirts from all sorts of places. Boom, t-shirts for everyone. Well, you can be sure we built it. You can still go see the shirt-proof generation in action on the website. Just enter some text and take it to the next step. There are payment (Stripe), fulfillment(shirts.io), and Imagemagick-based background jobs running around with their heads cut off -- it's all there.

Well, what went wrong? Lots. It felt clunky and honestly, a bit like it was creating waste. Who wears shirts that nobody else understands except some of your coworkers? Are some sort of awkward hipster squad?! (Don't answer that.) I couldn't see myself even wearing the shirts by the time they arrived. Next, they were expensive. The cheapest we could get them was around $20, but the shirts didn't feel good. The prints we actually liked were $30+ per shirt. No go. Overplanning. Underestimation. Miscommunication. The usual.

Speakteesy was still a great learning experience for us though. We had to go through the organizational pain at least once of shipping a product outside of our day-to-day responsibilities to be able to do it again (Emailadore, Wallspace Finder). We had to understand that we needed to build less, faster to have even a prayer of building good product in the future. We had to feel how terrible it was to finish something knowing it would never get used to have the motivation to try more.

We loved every second of building Speakteesy, and we're going to keep trying more.