Ryan Young and Madison Wickham were fraternity brothers at Texas State University. Shortly after they graduated, they came up with an idea for a startup.
During their fraternity days, the men would often use a catchphrase, “total frat move,” when telling a ridiculous story to one another. Young and Wickham created a Twitter-like feed of statements ending with “TFM” and launched it in 2010. One early post read, “A sick lax pinnie, khaki shorts, and Sperry’s is my required work from home dress code. TFM.”
Like other college-targeted acronyms (“FML” for F— My Life and “TFLN” for Texts From Last Night), TFM began to go viral. Over the next few years, Wickham and Young built up a loyal base of fratastic followers. They began producing longer articles which generated millions of reads per month and launched an apparel brand, Rowdy Gentleman, which now generates 75% of the revenue for TFM’s parent company, Grandex. Two of Rowdy Gentleman’s best selling T-shirts are “Back to Back World War Champs” and “Dadbod.”
This $32 Dadbod shirt sold like crazy on Grandex’s Rowdy Gentleman.
Pairing e-commerce with ad dollars is an increasingly popular business model for media startups. Thrillist, a larger Grandex competitor, owns clothing brand JackThreads. JackThreads generates most of Thrillist’s revenue.?
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