The tattoo site tattoodo.com is only two years old. Nonetheless, it already has over 10 million visitors a month and is constantly growing.
By Torben Kloster
“Why aren’t there actually any design portals for tattoos? Just like 99designs.com, but just for people who wants a tattoo?” Johan Plenge, co-founder and owner of Tattoodo.com, wondered as he was getting a tattoo a few years ago. He shared the wonder with his colleague and friend Mik Thobo-Carlsen, who immediately saw the possibilities.
“I remember that I thought: This is it! We struggled a little on the idea and began to check up on what tattoo sites actually existed,” says Mik Thobo-Carlsen, co-founder and owner.
This became the basis for tattoodo.com. Half a year after it’s launch in August 2013, the site had 200,000 monthly visits. Today, this number has increased to more than 300,000 per day.
No clue about tattoos
The boys discovered there were 147 million Google searches about tattoos every month, yet there was no portal that gathered ink-hungry seekers and gave them what they were looking for.
“We did not really know anything about tattoos at all. We just thought there was a need for a rendezvous for all the people who searched for or had inspiration for tattoo designs,” says Mik Thobo-Carlsen.
As they got involved more deeply in the industry, they became aware of a very strong hierarchy among tattooists. Everyone knows and recognises the best 100-200 tattooists. Tattoodo.com realised the importance of accommodating this hierarchy, so the page would stand out to tattoo geeks.
“Johan happened to know someone who had the phone number of Ami James, who is one of the world’s best tattoo artists and who is known from the reality program ‘Miami Ink’. We knew it would be huge if he would join up with the idea. We called Ami, but he got really upset and didn’t really want hear about the idea at all,” says Mik Thobo-Carlsen.
It turned out Ami James discussed the idea with his neighbor shortly after, who thought the idea had great potential. A few days later, Ami James was on a plane bound for Denmark, met with Johan Plenge and Mik Thobo-Carlsen, and became part of the development of tattoodo.com.
What was the world like before Tattoodo?
So far, tattoodo.com is based mainly on design competitions where people upload their tattoo ideas and start a competition among the associated designers. But in the longer term, the founders count on extending the page to include a booking system, and making it a gathering place for the world’s best tattoo artists.
“We are already in contact with about 100 of the largest tattoo artists who support the idea. And when the booking system is up and running, you can manage the whole process through us; upload your ideas, get them designed and book an appointment with the desired tattoo artist – even by the best tattoo artists in the world,” said Mik Thobo-Carlsen and continues:
“It may get to be like Facebook, where you eventually think, ‘‘How did you actually stay in contact before Facebook?’’ In our case, it should be: ‘‘How did you actually get inspiration for a cool tattoo before Tattoodo?’ “
He further explains that a large part of the success behind Tattoodo is because the concept fits with what the tattoo-hungry people are looking for; either the tattoo should be personal, or it should it be made by a great artist. The first need is met by the individual design competitions. The second part will be met if the site is affiliated with a large network of great tattooists.
The world’s largest media
The team aims higher than the large growth in the first two years of Tattoodo’s history. They dream of becoming a gathering place for all of tattoo culture, and of mingling with the biggest media in the world.
“This is the way we can change the world. If we can make the whole process in relation to getting a tattoo easier and more inspiring, then we have achieved what we dream about. It is cooler to create something valuable than to be rich. One can only eat a certain amount of supper and drive in only one car. We want to create a change,” says Mik Thobo-Carlsen.
Tattoodo has eight employees in Denmark, three in the US, one in France, and one in the Philippines. Number of visits to the site increase almost every month, and so many investors have expressed interest that the founders can pick and choose investments. Gradually, the site has become less and less Danish – Denmark is only is only 29th out out of nationalities who visit the site, and far surpassed by the US and Britain.
Meet Mik Thobo-Carlsen at TechBBQ tomorrow, May 20 – get your ticket here