The Story Of Mad Rabbit: Identifying A Pain Point In The Tattoo Industry


Since launching on the campus of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, Mad Rabbit has modified the sport within the tattoo aftercare market. They’re doing so by bringing change to an industry that’s hundreds of years old but one which has been largely immune to innovation until recently. I sat down with Oliver Zak, co-founder of Mad Rabbit, to discuss their journey, community-driven product development process and unique retail strategy that enables them to take a distinct approach to brand constructing.

Dave Knox: How did you provide you with the concept for Mad Rabbit

Oliver Zak: My co-founder Selom and I got began in business during our sophomore 12 months in college. Selom introduced me to the concept of e-commerce, and we spent the following six months exploring tips on how to construct a brand online. We began with dropshipping, which taught us worthwhile lessons about constructing a brand and differentiating ourselves through customer support and ambassador programs. We couldn’t compete on product differentiation, but we learned tips on how to achieve other ways. After a couple of months, we sold that business for $7,000, which was an enormous win for us as college students. It showed us that we had a possible interest in pursuing this kind of business further.

During our senior 12 months, we were between jobs and on the lookout for a recent opportunity. I had a tattoo appointment, and I used to be frustrated with the recommendations for healing tattoos. Most of them involved petroleum jelly, which I felt was outdated and unhealthy. I asked my tattoo artist if there have been any natural alternatives, and there weren’t. That is when Selom and I made a decision to create our own natural tattoo care products.

We ordered ingredients from Amazon and native apothecaries and started experimenting with different formulations. Our first product was an all-natural tattoo balm made with seven natural ingredients. We used it for aftercare, and it worked well. Through marketing these products with Facebook ads, and that summer alone, we were in a position to generate $300,000 in sales. We later in 2021, developed a soothing gel that was more specific for tattoo healing, which continued to skyrocket the brand. This success showed us that we had found a necessity within the industry and that we had a viable product-market fit.

Selom and I learned loads about constructing a brand through our dropshipping business. This experience helped us develop the talents we wanted to create and market our own natural tattoo care products. We’re proud to supply a safer, healthier alternative to traditional tattoo aftercare, and we’re excited to proceed growing our business.

Knox: You launched each of those businesses while students at Miami University. What benefits did this offer you to attach together with your target market?

Zak: Miami is just not known for being a very tattooed school. Nonetheless, it does have a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem that supports and champions startups. Selom and I were in a position to leverage this ecosystem to launch our natural tattoo care products business. Our recently launched college ambassador program focuses on metropolitan areas where tattoos are more prevalent. This has helped us reach a wider audience and construct our brand.

One in every of the resources that helped us start was a business fraternity that we joined freshman 12 months. This speaks to the resources available on campus for those concerned with entrepreneurship. Outside of my finance degree, which helped me learn the language of business, the largest value add for Miami while I used to be there was definitely the entrepreneurial community of scholars, faculty, and alumni from the varsity of business. This vibrant entrepreneurial community that helped us launch our business. We’re grateful for the resources and support we received from the Farmer School and the larger community, which helped us turn our idea right into a successful business.

Knox: What has been the driving force behind the success of Mad Rabbit?

Zak: I never thought I’d be the tattoo guy, but I’ve at all times been good at identifying areas of opportunity. I noticed that tattoos were rising in popularity, despite the fact that they have been around for hundreds of years. In 2012, only 20% of US adults had a tattoo, but now in 2023, it’s closer to 50%. That is a variety of growth in a brief time period. This trend is not only within the US, it’s global. Japan and South Korea just legalized tattooing, and self-expression is being championed through tattoos.

The tattoo industry was ripe for disruption. It’s historically been a cash-only, under-the-table business. There was never any formal training for tattoo artists, so that you needed to persuade a store to take you under their wing. This made it a reasonably slow-to-adopt and exclusive community. Nowadays, there are tons of resources available online, and Mad Rabbit is keen about helping aspiring artists.

Our success at Mad Rabbit got here from addressing a pain point within the industry. Tattoos don’t at all times heal well, and an enormous reason for that’s the suggestion of using petroleum jelly. It’s great for scrapes and cuts since it helps construct up a scab, which protects against bacteria and dirt. Nevertheless it’s terrible for tattoos since the ink gets stuck within the scabs, and after they fall off, your tattoo can look awful in week two. That is frustrating once you’ve spent hundreds of dollars and hours of pain in your tattoo.

We saw a possibility to innovate and offer a greater solution for tattoo aftercare. People resonated with our clean and natural tattoo care products because they worked, and so they addressed an actual problem. We’re proud to supply a safer, healthier alternative to traditional tattoo aftercare, and we’re excited to proceed growing our business.

Knox: Why did you choose go on Shark Tank and what’s been the impact on the business since then?

Zak: I wasn’t the one who applied to Shark Tank, it was actually my partner Selom. I grew up watching the show with my family every Friday since I used to be 13 years old. My dad is an entrepreneur, and I at all times knew that I desired to do my very own thing in the future. So after we got the decision that Shark Tank was interested, it was like a childhood dream come true.

Being on Shark Tank gave us access to an enormous audience, even in the event that they weren’t necessarily our goal customer. The individuals who watch the show aren’t necessarily heavily tattooed, but they might need nieces, nephews, or grandkids who’re concerned with tattoos. That goes a good distance for gifting throughout the holiday season and overall brand awareness.

It was an incredible experience, and we learned loads from the sharks. We were in a position to secure a take care of Mark Cuban, who has been an important partner for us, and still is. He’s been very supportive and has helped us navigate the retail landscape. We’re grateful for the chance that Shark Tank gave us, and we’re excited to see where Mad Rabbit goes from here.

Knox: Since launching the unique healing balm, you may have expanded across multiple products. What drives that product innovation strategy in deciding something’s the suitable product to launch under Mad Rabbit?

Zak: At Mad Rabbit, we’re proud to say that a variety of our product ideas come from our community. We have turn into an umbrella for a bunch of various subcultures who’re keen about wearing their hearts on their sleeves. We have now surfers, chefs, hairstylists, tattoo artists, and more. All of those persons are brought under the Mad Rabbit umbrella, and so they connect on things like sharing tattoos, best suggestions and tricks.

Most excitingly for us, we get to leverage conversations between the brand and our consumers. Most of our products have actually come from ideation inside our online communities. They’ve asked for soaps, lotions, and other products, which is actually exciting since it extends beyond the aftercare period. We’re in a position to give attention to day by day care and maintenance, which is actually essential for long-term care of tattooed skin.

Quite a lot of the CPG giants on the market are formulating for the mass consumer, and until the variety of US adults with at the least one tattoo passes 51%, they do not see it as a market price formulating for. But we’re small and nimble, and we take heed to our customers. We are able to ideate and innovate accordingly.

Once we have now those ideas, we move on to the prototyping and product development stage. We get samples from our chemist and our manufacturer. After which certainly one of our final checks is with Dr. Elliot Love, who’s on our advisory board. He’s a tattooed dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon. He’s a distinctiveness of authority that we’re in a position to leverage from a scientific ingredient perspective to place the cherry on top, if you happen to will.

Knox: Your retail strategy can also be unique in that you just sell not only through direct to consumer but additionally places like Urban Outfitters, GNC, and tattoo shops across the country. What led you to this strategy versus chasing a mass retailer initially?

Zak: We definitely wish to be wherever our customers wish to buy us, including mass retailers. But our initial strategy was direct-to-consumer online only, through Shopify, Facebook, and Amazon. That is how we reached our million customers today.

Once we gained some brand awareness, we began launching in “brand accretive” retailers, like Urban Outfitters. A lot of our customers are under 35 years old living in metropolitan areas are passionate young people, which is precisely Urban Outfitters’ customer base.

We also saw a possibility within the health and wellness industry. Health fans care about what they put in and on their bodies, and so they want their tattoos to look good too. That is why GNC saw an important opportunity for us to expand beyond supplements and into skincare.

The tattoo parlor channel is actually essential for us. It’s point of care, billboard space. We sell aftercare products where they’re needed and after they’re needed, and most significantly, we get the artist’s suggestion on our side. The tattoo artist is the authority on tips on how to heal a tattoo, so winning over their suggestion is crucial.

With the tattoo industry approaching 51% of US adults having at the least one tattoo, the artist is actually the bread and butter for us. We even have the chance to sell in other fragmented retailers like surfers, skateboarders, chefs, hair stylists, and barbers. Tattoos are the common link that may sell across various channels.

Knox: Together with your recent Series A funding from Lucas Brand Equity, what are the plans for the business as you herald this funding?

Zak: A part of the funds we raised are for constructing out our boots-on-the-ground sales team. There are about ~30,000 tattoo parlors within the US, and it’s a extremely essential space for us to win over. We have at all times been a strictly digital brand, so constructing an enormous sales team is a recent enterprise for us.

We’re also trying to up our content production. We’re opening a headquarters in Los Angeles this spring/summer that may function a content-enabled tattoo studio. Our pro team artist will likely be tattooing there, capturing 360 content, and providing product testimonials. We’re also giving them an area to record and grow their very own personal brand, which is an exciting opportunity for us to empower them and supply mutual value.

Lastly, we’re specializing in additional product development. Most of our products today are consumer-facing, but we’re working on innovations that may give the artist a greater tattoo experience. This can go a good distance in winning over their suggestion for aftercare and day by day maintenance.


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