Custom Tattoo Design is a tattoo design agency, and the first of its kind. There are thousands of tattoo shops around the world, but only one website solely dedicated to designing custom tattoo work, communicating one-on-one with artists, and that’s all thanks to Lee Roller. How did he get things rolling? (pun 100% intended). We looked into the history of the company to see how it started, the steps that were taken, and where it's at now, to fill you in on exactly who the fu*k CTD really is.
Custom Tattoo Design started out as an idea in 2012, borne with the intent to help out Roller’s brother. His brother was an artist who needed work, so Roller came up with the idea for a website where artists like him could get jobs. Realizing that tattoos were an artistic medium with major demand, he came up with the concept of a website specializing exclusively in custom designs for tattoos, “I knew the market size was massive and when I started digging deeper I realized no one was offering what I wanted to offer”.
CTD began as a single page website, with a small roster of freelance artists from all over the world. Within six months, the site was churning out more than 100 designs monthly, and the number of artists grew into the hundreds. That’s when Roller saw an opportunity to really further the company’s growth - and get on TV.
The following year, in 2013, Roller pitched his business on the hit CBC show, Dragon’s Den. He presented his concept to Jim Treliving, Kevin O’Leary, Arlene Dickinson, Bruce Croxon, and Robert Herjavec, “When I first walked in I really wanted Bruce to be my partner because my business was based online and I needed his expertise in the market”.
He got the attention of all four male Dragons, with Treliving and Croxon ultimately offering the winning investment offer. Croxon’s investment firm Round 13 Capital has since bought out Treliving’s shares in the company. For his part, Croxon says it was a no-brainer to invest in Lee:
When I look at digital deals, I’m looking for people who understand the cost of acquisition, who are far enough along that they understand what a customer is worth to them and that there is enough of a gap between the cost and sales generated that it makes sense as an investment...Lee is very clear about all of his numbers. His margins are great. He has no inventory, no large expenses and he can scale it. There is no real risk as investors.
Since signing the final deal with Round 13 in 2014, CTD has skyrocketed. There are more than 200 artists on the design roster, worldwide, and we handle over 150 design requests a day. With a focus on high quality designs and great customer service, Custom Tattoo Design has become the leader in online tattoo design.
It’s safe to say that if you find yourself thinking “who the f*ck is CTD?”, you won’t be wondering for long.