Alumni create T-shirt design company 'Impress Ink'
UCF Pi Delta Psi alumni never thought their random decision to purchase a printing press would become a business now going on its eighth year of operation.
After helping brothers at UF’s Pi Delta Psi sell Greek merchandise for One Greek Store, Mike Cho and Xi Guo made over $3,000 in commission.
Mike Cho, co-founder and president of the T-shirt company, Impress Ink said that with the money they had saved they “decided at random that we should spend that money wisely and try something out.” They purchased a small setup to print shirts in their rental home’s garage. They began by making their Pi Delta Psi chapter shirts for rush and bid day.
They say they messed up quite a few shirts but quickly learned a way to make them come out the way they intended and then gradually started working with other organizations. Their expansion eventually made Impress Ink a multimillion dollar operation.
“We are a multimillion dollar operation, but Xi and I have never added a single dollar to the company, we grew it from the $3,000 we planted from the beginning, reinvesting every dollar and almost every dollar even today,” Cho said.
They are now approaching their eighth year of operation with a team of over 15 people—more than 50 percent of which are UCF students and alumni. Andrew Roca, a Rosen college alumnus, said he found his way to Impress Ink when he “took a chance on a Craigslist ad for a Sales Rep with Impress Ink and didn’t look back.”
Evaluating his time at Impress Ink, Roca said, “you tend to find the same qualities as you would family.” Xi Guo, a co-founder of Impress Ink, said that "the team operates efficiently as they work together regardless of one’s core responsibility."
The team functions this way because they want to be able to provide something that holds a special meaning for college students and have "found that T-shirts hold a special meaning among college students." His responsibilities at Impress Ink range from mopping the floors or fixing a router, to caring for shop technologies and overseeing systems, processes and special projects the company has taken on.
Going back to its UCF roots, Impress Ink often finds itself on the South Patio of the Student Union participating in Wednesday Market Day as they give away free screen-printed shirts. They also partner with multiple UCF organizations throughout the year in an attempt to keep their ties to the University close.
“We just recently partnered with UCF Homecoming and Knight-Thon, and we’ve helped close relationships with countless UCF groups, departments and entities,” Cho said.
Not only to the partners say they are glad to remain close to their alma mater but Sales Representative Andrew Roca says he considers it “a little surreal getting to go back to UCF on a bi-monthly basis.” Because of his relationship with the University, Roca said he is also able to participate as the Head Coach of the Men’s Club Ultimate Frisbee Team, the Dogs of War.
“I never intended to graduate college and become an owner of a T-shirt shop,” said Mike Cho, the founder and president of Impress Ink, “However, a majority of my family are business owners and probably some aspect of that clicked when we decided to set up some printing equipment in our garage back in our college years.”
Brianna Ordenes is a contributing writer for the Central Florida Future.