B2B ID: Gabe Ripley, owner, Off the Map Tattoos, Easthampton

Last modified: Wednesday, August 06, 2014

NAME: Gabe Ripley

TITLE: Owner, Off the Map Inc., 112 Cottage St., Easthampton

WEBSITE: OfftheMapTattoo.com

AGE: 39

WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: Essentially 1996, officially in 2000


WHAT YOU DO: Off the Map is a tattoo parlor with several divisions and three physical locations — in Easthampton; Grants Pass, Oregon; and Cervignano del Friuli, Italy. Our technology division, TattooNOW, powers over 150 tattoo websites, mobile apps, webcasts and webinars and attracts millions of visitors through our servers each month. We also produce and co-produce three events all around the world, including the Paradise Tattoo Gathering, the Paradise Artist Retreat and the Worldwide Tattoo Conference.

EXPERIENCE: Twenty years as a computer programmer and many years as an entrepreneur

THE MARKET: People who want to be tattoed as well as collectors and the curious. Our perfect clients are smart, unique people with fine artistic visions who do what it takes to be, or get tattooed by, the best.

HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: The Internet; a bi-weekly interview show that features the world’s top tattooers via Skype; Off the Map LIVE, which is distributed live via webcasts, YouTube, podcasts; community access cable stations; and a TattooNOW mini-magazine.

WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? We have grown this business from scratch, with no access to real capital or credit. This insured that if we were going to survive, we had to have a real sharp bead on the return on investment of our time and money throughout all our efforts for both the short and long term. Learning how to diversify our income streams has been essential to our company’s financial growth, but juggling so many divisions and projects is no easy task and has only worked with the help of a lot of great people.

CHALLENGES: Leading and managing a team of folks in different countries is not something I ever imagined doing, so my current challenge is to continue to grow with the company and not get replaced with a real CEO!

MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: One of our first events out west was selling very poorly in part because of a big Internet traffic dip. It had become easy to lean on our Internet presence to carry our events, but for this one we had to look for alternatives to our normal formula for the first time in nearly a decade.

WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: Honesty might not always be the easiest route but is always the best in the long run. If you have strong opinions you will likely irk a few people, but by being 100 percent honest and consistent you will ultimately be respected and rewarded by those who matter.

KEY TO SUCCESS: Unsatisfiable thirst for knowledge

TOP GOALS FOR 2014: Purchase real estate for the Easthampton location. Hire a programmer. Save the down payment for Grants Pass, Oregon, real estate. Hire a resident artist for Italy location. Present a great seminar at the Worldwide Tattoo Conference in Venice, Italy, in November. And release three more TattooNOWs this year.

ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Make sure you devour information on business and leadership as well as your particular craft. Learning from a variety of successful people and adapting the pieces and parts that seem right in the context of your business will help get you further than trying to fit someone else’s formulas into yours.

PARTING THOUGHT: Go big or go home.

The B2B ID is compiled by Janice Beetle of Beetle Press in Easthampton, a PR and communications firm. www.beetlepress.com. To suggest a subject for B2B ID, email Beetle at beetlepress@charter.net.


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