The idea came to him during one of his many sleepless nights. “It came to me on the night of Aug. 1, 2021,” recalled George Diab, founder and CEO of the Lebanese start-up Book-ink.
Fifteen days later, he quit his job as a consultant at a delivery company. After three more months, and at the cost of many sleepless nights, this Beirut native of Achrafieh launched his website.
Demand grew rapidly and the start-up unveiled its mobile application in Aug. 2022. “Book-ink connects customers with the tattoo artists that match them through various search criteria: budget, location, style of art sought, etc.,” said the 24-year-old. “The entire process, from finding a tattoo to getting it done, is facilitated and managed via the platform,” he added.
“The concept is unprecedented in Lebanon, in the region but also in the world,” he said.
A 2019 graduate of Holy Spirit University of Kaslik (USEK) in Kesrouan in marketing and finance, Diab has ingrained in him a passion for numbers and tattoo art. “I have always loved juggling with numbers and understanding what they can mean, especially in business when it comes to creating a product and selling it,” he explained.
Thanks to his savings, and his father who helped him launch his start-up, the young man succeeded with Book-ink in combining his two interests, with the aim of revolutionizing the tattoo industry by regulating and digitizing the sector, while carrying a societal message through his work.
“It is necessary to educate people who want to get a tattoo, but also to change mentalities, in Lebanon and elsewhere, in order to deconstruct the clichés and pejorative ideas about this field, whether it is about tattoo artists or tattooed people. This sector must be considered as any other profession,” he said.
Soon to hit the Greek market
To do so, Diab’s team makes it a point of honor to check the professionalism of any artist wishing to join the Book-ink platform: meeting with the tattoo artist, inspection of the studio and equipment, verification of qualifications, etc. “Once the green light is given, the artist in question subscribes to Book-ink for a fee ranging from one month to one year,” he said.
This paid subscription allows the application to be self-financing, and in return the artists receive several services that allow them to develop their business: ease of communication with clients (over 18 years old) and making appointments, access to a larger clientele thanks to better visibility of their work and analysis of the performance of their business, among others.
“Customers, on the other hand, can download the app and use it at no cost,” said the CEO. “They also have the ability to leave a review about their experience and the artist they hired, boosting each tattoo artist’s profile.”
With 65 Lebanese artists already subscribed to Book-ink, some 20,000 active users on its platforms (website and mobile app) and more than 5,000 followers on its Instagram page, the start-up is now generating enough profit to sustain itself, expand with an upcoming launch in Greece, which will open the way to the European market, and donate “10 percent every month to Lebanese families in need. The goal for this year is also to conclude partnerships with charities to strengthen our impact on society. To our scale, of course,” said Diab.
It is a scale composed of ten employees, full-time and part-time, as well as some contract ones, “when we launch a new project signed Book-ink,” he said.
This will be done this weekend with the launch of a monthly podcast “The Book-ink Experience” on all distribution platforms (Anghami, Spotify, Instagram, YouTube, etc.). It is a filmed interview with a tattoo artist who will tell their personal and professional experience in this industry “still under-appreciated around the world,” insisted Diab. He hopes to change this state of affairs thanks to Book-ink which is already “five, even 10 years ahead in the tattoo industry in the region.” A revolution is underway.
This story was originally published in French in L'Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle Khoury.
The idea came to him during one of his many sleepless nights. “It came to me on the night of Aug. 1, 2021,” recalled George Diab, founder and CEO of the Lebanese start-up Book-ink.Fifteen days later, he quit his job as a consultant at a delivery company. After three more months, and at the cost of many sleepless nights, this Beirut native of Achrafieh launched his website.Demand grew rapidly...