News & Insights

Welcome Inkbox to the Maveron Portfolio

Anarghya Vardhana

Today we are thrilled to announce our series A investment in a Toronto based company, Inkbox. Inkbox is a creative ecosystem that delivers confidence to consumers with their tattoo decisions. Inkbox offers an artist marketplace in addition to ink for custom tattoo drawing. Through Inkbox, people have access to a wide variety of semi permanent tattoos, pre designed and custom.

To start off, some fun facts, the tattoo parlor industry is a $3B industry, quickly growing, yet the space remains fragmented, unbranded, difficult to assess or access, and often restricted to the fringe. At the same time, we see that there are not only more tattoo parlors than Starbucks locations, but that nearly 40% of millennials have tattoos, and virtually every sports star, celebrity, and influencer can be found proudly showing off body art. Yet sadly, 25% of people who get tattoos express some kind of regret or remorse around the permanent body altercation, and the tattoo removal industry continues to grow rapidly, topping $1B in 2016.

At Maveron, we are students of consumer. We’ve observed the cultural shifts around self expression and individuality, with an increased edginess in fashion (see another Maveron portfolio company, Dolls Kill) and acceptance in body art and piercings. We see brands like Sephora embracing models with piercings and tattoos, and icons like Rihanna and Zoe Kravitz continuing to push the boundaries of fashion with massive fan bases. Vanilla is out, spice is in.

In addition to the aesthetic changes in the fashion industry, we recognize the growing trend of customization and personalization. Consumers, especially young ones, want to stand out. The things they wear, say, and do mean something. Simultaneously, apps like Snap and Instagram Stories have coached users into the notion of semi permanence, things don’t last forever, and it’s scary if they do.

Digging one layer deeper, we see a multicultural, socially active, diversity appreciating teen, growing up in a dynamic, global environment. Teen role models like Yara Shahidi quote James Baldwin. The Hadid sisters spoke out against the Muslim Ban. Celebrities and influencers of all sorts walked in the Women’s March. The stats from teen surveys speak for themselves, 62% of teens say that America is better if it’s diverse. 71% of teens have volunteered for a cause they care about. The youth and future of the world are engaged in an unprecedented way, and we believe that brands like Inkbox are uniquely suited to provide these individuals with outlets for expression, meaning, and connection.

At the confluence of these trends is an opportunity for a creative platform which allows for ever-evolving self expression. The market and social potential are huge. Inkbox banks on a future in which customers change their tattoos as frequently as they change hair color, styles, or even make up.

Tyler, the CEO and co-founder of Inkbox, paints an opportunity where a semi permanent tattoo with permanent tattoo-like characteristics (same color, dark staining, fading evenly and slowly) can truly disrupt a market swamped in age-old practices and no innovation. This semi permanent tattoo can attract a wide variety of customers, people who would never get a permanent tattoo, people who are testing locations or ideas for permanent tattoos, people who want both permanent and semi permanent, but for different reasons, and much more. The Handley brothers (co founders, Tyler and Braden) and their team or on a journey to grow the brand and to change the way people think about body art. Currently, the tattoo is relatively easily applied at home, and lasts 2–3 weeks, depending on the customer’s skin and habits. Envision a world in which the customer could choose their desired duration for how long the tattoo lasts.

After backing Tyler and Braden in the seed, we were pleased to see their authentic approach (celebrity tattoo artists are excited to partner with them and have even launched private Inkbox collections), their commitment to making the industry more accessible (much of tattoo culture is mired in toxic masculinity), and their deep focus on bringing trust to an untrusted market.

We are thrilled to lock arms with them on the journey from obscurity to ubiquity.

With gratitude, Anarghya, David, and the Maveron team

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