The creators of “Office Space” and “That 70s Show” would be hard-pressed to come up with a better idea for a TV pilot than the story of a twenty-something Terry alum who quits his job at a major firm, partners with his brother, and launches an online t-shirt retail business with a nonsensical name out of their parents’ basement. Utilizing humorous pop-culture references, hip design concepts — and a wildly successful marketing campaign focused on an attractive neighborhood friend-turned-product model — SnorgTees has become an overnight Internet sensation.
Welcome to the real life story of Matt Walls (BBA ’03), co-founder of SnorgTees, which ranks No. 6 on this year’s inaugural Bulldog 100 list of the fastest-growing UGA alumni owned/operated businesses.
And don’t let the name SnorgTees fool you. Walls isn’t getting paid to goof off.
“A lot of people get the idea that what we do all day is sit around and think of funny shirts,” says Walls from the Alpharetta office park and warehouse facility where he and his brother Bryan moved the company in 2007. As much as he loves brainstorming t-shirt ideas, Walls explains that it accounts for only an hour or two of a typical workweek. “I wish we could sit here all day and do that!”
Walls believes SnorgTees’ success comes from using sound business principles to develop a customer-focused brand with appealing humor and design concepts.
“A lot of t-shirt companies might be good at designing, but not at figuring out the business side of things. Or they might be good at the business side, but they aren’t good at coming up with good designs . . . we have both,” says Walls, whose company has produced between $5 million and $10 million in sales since its humble beginnings in 2003.
A key component of SnorgTees’ marketing concept is “Snorg Girl” Alice Fraasa. The Walls brothers originally featured themselves in their banner advertising, but soon discovered that female models doubled the number of click-through rates. Fraasa, an Auburn student with girl-next-door appeal, grew up on the same street as the Walls brothers. Once she began appearing in SnorgTees online ads, click-through rates jumped another 50 percent, and Fraasa quickly gained national acclaim.
“Alice is so engaging and personable that we got better click-throughs and attention from a cheap point-and-shoot camera than huge corporations get from ads where they spend tens of thousands of dollars,” says Walls, who sees SnorgTees’ No. 6 ranking in the Bulldog 100 as a nice milestone in the company’s initial success. But with a website redesign about to launch, he isn’t resting on his laurels.
“Now that we have grown I find myself being a bit of a workaholic,” says Walls, “but I do get to sleep a little later than I did before.”