Entrepreneur Mines Memes for Millions

Tanisha Robinson, co-founder of Print Syndicate, mines trendy memes for money and social change

(Image: Tanisha Robinson)
(Image: Tanisha Robinson)

There are tons of ways to make money online these days but turning a profit that actually supports all life’s expense is a difficult return to generate  unless you’re meme master Tanisha Robinson.

[Related: Tanisha Robinson Talks Juggling Ventures, Tech Accelerators and Exit Strategies]

CNN Money reports, Robinson’s firm Print Syndicate, based in Columbus, Ohio, makes social media an all out million dollar business.

Its in-house team of 15 artists search for  trendy slogans, mantras, nicknames, or anything viral worthy, on sites like Twitter, Buzzfeed, Pinterest and turn them into cheeky T-shirts, posters, mugs, and throw pillows.

She told CNN, her team tries to locate trends that speak to “underserved social groups,” whom she calls “tribes” of the internet.

When millennial supporters of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg awarded her the nickname “Notorious RGB”, in homage to her position on controversial issues like gender equality and same-sex marriage, it triggered an endless amount of social memes.

Robinson’s startup jumped on the opportunity  and quickly created its best-selling product to date.

“We made a T-shirt which was a mashup of Notorious B.I.G and Ginsburg,” Robinson told CNN. It showed an image of Ginsburg with a tilted crown on her head [the reference being to the late rapper, Notorious B.I.G’s famous pose featuring a tilted crown].

“We sold thousands,” said Robinson.

The startup launched in November 2012 and logged $4 million in revenue in its first year. That jumped to $12 million in 2014 and she expects to double sales this year.

Print Syndicate is profitable, employs 130 people and has raised a total of $4.2 million in funding.

Robinson reveals to CNN, the controversy she’s overcome throughout her life and says she’s now in  the business of giving customers a platform for social issues.

“As a hyper-marginalized person, I’m a woman, I’m black and I’m gay, I’m very interested in social change,” she said. “The future for us is to keep paying attention to social identity trends and provide our cultural commentary through our products”.

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