Tyler Handley is the co-founder & CEO at inkbox – a tattoo ecosystem that empowers customers to make good tattoo decisions. In just 3 years he’s led the development of a new product category and co-manages a team of 60 employees on a mission to empower the world to find confidence through tattoos. Outside of work you can find Tyler reading, staying fit, and playing too much Fortnite.

Episode Overview:

This episode is pretty exciting for a few reasons.  First of all – one of our podcast listeners nominated inkbox!  Thank you Asma! This is definitely an innovative company that is revolutionizing the tattoo industry!

Tyler provides such great insights

  • How the tattoo industry is changing & being revolutionized
  • One of Canada's fastest growing startups and recently closed a $17M CAD Series A financing from tier 1 venture capital funds.
  • How they are leveraging best practices from the tribes in Panama
  • Inkbox also gives back to artists,

I’ve always wanted a tattoo but have been afraid of the pain, would it stretch when I got older and the lifelong design commitment.  However, I think Inkbox is a commitment that I can totally make!

What makes this a Canadian Innovation or Innovative thinking?

Inkbox is a tattoo ecosystem that empowers customers to make good tattoo decisions. Their anchor product is a semi-permanent tattoo that customers apply from the comfort of home, no needles required. Customers can choose from thousands of designs created by an active artist community or create their own.

They are also one of Canada's fastest growing startups and recently closed a $17M CAD Series A financing from tier 1 venture capital funds. And they have created an entirely new category. Inkbox semi permanent tattoo last for over seven days or at least three weeks depending on the skin types. It also gives back to the artist by providing them commission on the designs that they create for the consumers or customers.

Sapna shared a story about how she wanted to have her own tattoo that is designed by her when she was 10 years old.

What excites Tyler about this industry:

This kind of industry is this it has become a progressive art form. It is also a very conservative industry on the artistic side but it is changing now. Historically tattoos have been relegated as an outskirt of society so people who consider themselves as a part of a rebel culture or is all about rebellion or being against the mainstream. However tattoo nowadays is already mainstream and Tyler think that it is driven by just a proliferation of Instagram or Pinterest where you can see a new style of arts where there is more accessibility for artist.

Lessons Learned:

  • I realize that no one actually told me about the context of contacts.
  • “You really don't know what you are doing unless you have the context”
  • You need to know who are the best people to talk to to help you understand what you need to do to the get to the next stage.

Kickstarter allows you to sell your products online even if you still don't have a physical product ready to be shipped to your customers. Kickstarter allows you to raise funds and neat your desired budget in order to create your physical product.

” You need to get in front of the kickstarter community.”

“Start of kickstarter is about leveraging your own network and community”

“Hustle until you get to the front page of Kickstarter”

Company goal: Their goal is to help you find confidence with your next tattoo decision

Company Story:

It’s what sparked Tyler and his team to create inkbox. Their styles, tastes, and opinions were always changing. Why wasn’t there a tattoo that could change with us?

So they invented the inkbox tattoo – a temporary tattoo that actually looks authentic. Unlike temporary tattoos that are just stickers on your skin, inkbox tattoos function more like permanent tattoos – they sit in your skin, and then fade as your skin naturally regenerates. In other words, they allow you to express your boldest, most badass self, without the commitment. We think that’s pretty cool!

You know what else is pretty cool? Giving back. When they were developing inkbox they came across tribes in Panama who dye their skin with the pulp of a local fruit. This is where they found the active ingredients for our product.

They are proud to support these tribes through the Darien Initiative – a charity that helps the indigenous tribes of the Darién Gap, Panama by providing agricultural and community support programs.

And did you know that every time you buy an inkbox tattoo, an artist somewhere in the world makes money? We know how hard it can be to get by in today’s economy. We’re all about supporting independent artists in making some moolah off their passion.

Press Mentions:

“Never be a victim of impulse and poor judgement again with inkbox – Forbes

“The problem with fake tattoos is they look fake until now – Mashable

“inkbox is perfect for the person who wants to express themselves but doesn't know WTF they want.” – Vice

“The Commitment We All Can Make” – Mtv

“They may not be permanent, but they too carry a wow factor” – Fashion

“This is not an average temporary tattoo company” – Inked (magazine)

Resources and Tips Mentioned:

  • Reading industry publications
  • Things that you can contact within your niche
  • Leveraging on your resources is key
  • Building up a strong network of people who tend average yourself and your business

Book recommendation:

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman

The First 90 Days by Michael D. Watkins

The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz

EMyths Revisited by Michael Gerber

The Digital Economy by Don Topsccott


Pai Northern Thai Kitchen

Connect with Tyler:

Website: https://inkbox.com/

Twitter: @getinkbox and @Tyler_Handley

Facebook: Inkbox

Instagram: @inkbox

Thanks again for tuning in!

To help out the show:

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  • Listen to more innovators who are crushing it here.

I’m still channeling Gary Vee! Ratings and reviews are my oxygen!

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