How I Started A $8.4M/Year Print On Demand Company [From China]

Published: December 5th, 2023
Founder, JetPrint
from Shenzhen, Guangdong Province, China
started December 2017
market size
starting costs
gross margin
time to build
300 days
growth channels
business model
best tools
Similarweb, Java, Google Search Console
time investment
Full time
pros & cons
34 Pros & Cons
2 Tips
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customer service
stock images
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Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?

I am Mark, the founder of JetPrint, a Chinese print-on-demand company. JetPrint specializes in offering print-on-demand services to global e-commerce sellers and consumers interested in a variety of customizable products, with e-commerce sellers being our primary customer group.

Our core product lines contain watches, shoes, balls, bags, and mouse pads, with watches and balls being our featured product lines. Notably, we hold the patent for the innovative material used in our reflective footballs.

We started empty-handed and successfully occupied a place in the print-on-demand industry. Our initial monthly income, which began as a few thousand US dollars, has now grown to $700,000.


Within two months of JetPrint’s launch, Shopify not only approved our app but also recommended it and prominently featured it in the Shopify App Store.

What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?

My fascination with printing dates back to my childhood, when I was inherently curious about the mixing of four ink colors to create an array of hues, commonly referred to as CMYK. During my childhood, color printers were rare devices.

I have been learning to edit code independently and experimenting with software development since high school. With a major in college related to software development, I have solidified my foundation in this field.

In 2012, I took the first step in my career by founding a software development company that specializes in providing SaaS and ERP software development services to various manufacturing enterprises.

In 2015, I stumbled upon Printful while browsing foreign websites, and it introduced me to the print-on-demand industry for the first time. The term 'print on demand' wasn't widely recognized in China then. The prevailing idea was that individuals could print their favorite artwork on T-shirts. Meanwhile, the demand for personalization was gaining prominence during this period. This trend made me realize that print-on-demand was an industry with significant potential.

By 2016, the concept of print-on-demand slowly gained traction in China. Benefiting from my early experience in software development, I built a substantial network of contacts. Meanwhile, my background in IT allowed me to gradually establish partnerships with select factories, offering uncomplicated print-on-demand products and services.

Initially, my foray into the field was limited to basic T-shirt printing. After a year of such collaboration, I established JetPrint, marking my official entry into the print-on-demand industry.

Take us through the process of building the first version of your product.

In the course of running a software development company, I devoted time to studying the print-on-demand business. Often burning the midnight oil, I worked to define the mockup generator plan and the website's style. I selected six IT members from my software development company to form an independent IT team responsible for developing JetPrint.

Guided by my observations and experiences, I tasked my IT team with creating an app that would facilitate customization, integrate customers with Shopify stores, and streamline customer payment processing. For various additional features, we heavily relied on third-party licensing, resulting in a somewhat rudimentary platform.

Our emphasis was on developing the mockup generator, recognizing its pivotal role in the entire print-on-demand business. At that time, our websites were comparatively simpler and lacked the professional appearance you see today. Our initial strategy was to launch a Shopify app for e-commerce sellers, to assist them in achieving business growth.

In the early days of JetPrint, the IT team played an active role in business operations. Over time, we gradually expanded by recruiting new business teams to handle customer communication and order processing.

I've witnessed many peers falter and eventually close up due to the lack of service quality.

Describe the process of launching the business.

Shopify has gained immense popularity within China's cross-border e-commerce sector, with frequent mentions of the platform. Meanwhile, several print-on-demand company apps, such as Printful, Printify, and Teelaunch, were already present in the Shopify app store before our entry.

We recognized the significant potential and traffic on the Shopify App Store, prompting us to submit JetPrint for review by Shopify app developers. To meet Shopify's standards, we diligently standardized our code by their developer documentation, ensuring user privacy protection and order status synchronization.

Meanwhile, we embedded our app into the Shopify user backend, facilitating a seamless experience for customers within their stores, and rigorous compatibility testing under various browsers was conducted.

This thorough process, taking approximately 45 days, resulted in the successful launching of JetPrint on the Shopify App Store. Given the novelty of our watch product and the relatively limited competition in the print-on-demand market at that time, Shopify recognized the value of our platform.

As widely known, finding apps that cater to your needs in the Shopify App Store is a straightforward process—simply use keywords for your search. For instance, by using the keyword 'Print on Demand,' numerous print-on-demand apps will appear.

Fortunately, within two months of JetPrint’s launch, Shopify not only approved our app but also recommended it and prominently featured it in the Shopify App Store. Within six months of launch, our app installations reached 1,000.

In my opinion, the key to success in the Shopify app store lies in offering unique products and maintaining high product quality.


Building on this milestone, we initiated a marketing campaign targeting e-commerce sellers. Through posts in various forums and Facebook groups frequented by e-commerce sellers, complemented by engaging videos, we showcased our products, directed customers to our product page, and highlighted JetPrint's print-on-demand service.

This strategic approach has led to consistent linear growth in the number of JetPrint users. According to preliminary statistics, implementing this strategy has resulted in a month-on-month increase of 30% in the number of users.


As our business continues to grow, we've become acutely aware of the fundamental differences between print-on-demand and drop shipping. In the dropshipping model, there is no customization process, as it relies on existing products. However, with print-on-demand, a non-existent product is transformed into an existing one through the printing process.

Acknowledging the unique requirements of print-on-demand, our factory production lines need to take proactive measures. This involves purchasing printing machines and materials suitable for creating the target products six months in advance.

Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?

Service Quality

I firmly believe that service quality stands as the most paramount factor for both attracting and retaining customers. This contains the quality of our customer service and the products we offer. In the fiercely competitive print-on-demand industry, I've witnessed many peers falter and eventually close up due to the lack of service quality. It is imperative to understand that if our service falls short, customers will readily opt for alternatives. Therefore, unwavering commitment to providing exceptional service remains a core principle of our business.

During the peak season each year, we receive notices from the shipping carriers indicating an increase in freight rates. To ensure customers continue to enjoy the same prices, we willingly reduce our profit margins. Meanwhile, if any product issues are detected during packaging, we promptly address them by reproducing the affected items. Additionally, we offer a complimentary upgrade to the fastest transportation method, ensuring customers receive their products promptly without incurring extra charges.


Innovation serves as a cornerstone of our company culture. I instill the belief that a company willing to push the boundaries of innovation will undoubtedly lead the industry. Currently, we are in a state of perpetual innovation, continuously evolving our services and products to remain at the forefront of our sector.

We are among the pioneers in the print-on-demand market to introduce basketballs and footballs. Additionally, we've developed footballs crafted from luminous and reflective materials. These innovations have attracted numerous enthusiasts of ball products to our offerings.

Accurate Audience Targeting

In our advertising strategy, Google Ads takes precedence as our primary paid marketing channel. This choice is driven by our recognition of the critical role that understanding search behavior plays in directing targeted traffic.

For us, achieving the utmost accuracy in attracting the right audience is paramount, making search advertising our preferred strategy within the Google Ads platform. When running search ads, we meticulously choose keywords and conduct thorough research to discern the searcher intent behind each one.


How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?

JetPrint has secured a prominent position on the global stage within the print-on-demand industry, surpassing other Chinese print-on-demand companies in terms of recognition and reputation. Our order volume remains stable and continues to experience steady growth.

Our daily user registrations have experienced a significant surge, witnessing a remarkable increase of 95% compared to the same period last year.


We plan to foster collaborations with international manufacturers to enhance the efficiency of product transportation services. Considering the diverse demands of our customers, we are actively exploring integrations with more e-commerce platforms, including Wix, Squarespace, and others, to broaden our reach and offer our services to a wider audience.

Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?

In the early days of founding JetPrint, I admit that I may have missed an opportunity in product selection. We initially concentrated our efforts on the watch category, and during that period, we were the sole company in the market offering print-on-demand watches. However, it became evident that clothing is the most popular category in the market; therefore, we saw limited demand for clothing products within our customer base.

This realization indicates that future product development must take multiple factors into account. The rapid changes in the market mean that we cannot make decisions and evaluations based solely on personal emotions but should be more sensitive to consumer needs. We must act according to the needs of the market.

At the same time, I will lead my employees to create a relaxed and interesting environment. I believe that only in such an atmosphere can they unleash their creative thinking cuz interesting and useful ideas are priceless, at least from my perspective.

What platform/tools do you use for your business?

One of our most frequently utilized tools is Google Analytics, which offers us valuable insights into our website's user engagement. With this tool, we can track crucial metrics such as user visitation, visitation timing, and user demographics. We continuously harness this data to refine and optimize our web pages. We aim to enhance user experience, boost our conversion rate, and transform casual visitors into loyal customers.

In terms of marketing, we primarily rely on Google Ads, a highly beneficial tool that allows us to attract precise customers based on input keywords. Additionally, the tool provides insights into maximum and minimum bids, as well as competition difficulty for the selected keywords. Its intelligent features can identify groups more likely to become our customers by analyzing the characteristics of existing users.

We have a strong preference for Google tools, including Google Drive, which plays a central role in facilitating collaboration among our employees. This versatile tool enables the creation of shared tables, documents, forms, and more. As a result, we've significantly reduced unnecessary communication, leading to substantial savings in communication costs.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

One of the most significant takeaways from David Kirkpatrick's'The Facebook Effect' is the importance of a swift execution once you have a promising idea or plan in mind.

Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?

Prioritize Understanding of Customer Groups: Beginning with a deep understanding of your target customer groups and their local culture is foundational. This insight informs the development of products and services tailored to each specific market, ensuring relevance and resonance with your audience.

Selecting the Right Partners and Team: Building a competent and cohesive team is a crucial factor in achieving success. A strong team can not only enhance productivity but also simplify the entire business development process.

Record Your Thoughts: Effective idea management is essential. Keeping a record of your ideas in a notebook, rather than relying solely on memory, helps preserve your insights and enables you to revisit and refine them over time.

Where can we go to learn more?

Want to start an on-demand fuel-delivery app business? Learn more ➜