Hunter Freshman Gives President Obama a Tattoo

October 28, 2010 | Hunter College

Thanks to Hunter College freshman and nursing student Steven Gordon, Barack Obama will never have to worry about finding his way home. That’s because on October 12, Gordon presented the president with a tattoo reading, “My Name is B.O.  If I’m lost, please call the White House.”

Gordon’s gift was a sample product of his new business, TattooID (pronounced tattoo-eed), for which he won the inaugural Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) Elevator Pitch challenge. Meeting President Obama in the Oval Office along with three other NFTE contest winners was part of the prize, which also included $2,500 and two round-trip plane tickets to Washington.

“Once I saw him in person, I felt like I was on cloud nine, just out of this world,” said Gordon. “The day before I was riding the train home to Brooklyn, and now I was about to meet with the president.”

Gordon conceived of TattooID after a few scary experiences babysitting his four-year-old brother, who had a tendency to wander off as soon as no one was looking. “It would just send me into a panic,” said Gordon. “So I began thinking of how you could make safety fun.” His solution: fun, safe temporary tattoos that display the child’s initials and contact information. “I thought of temporary tattoos because I loved them a lot as a kid, and my brother does too.”

The project developed through Gordon’s participation in an NFTE summer program at Columbia University, where he met successful entrepreneurs and learned the basics of starting a business. At the end of the two-week program, he won the competition for best business plan, earning $1,000 and the means to put the plan into action. After further developing his business model, he entered and won the Elevator Pitch Challenge, in which competitors post 30-second video pitches online and the public votes on its favorite.

Gordon hopes to keep winning prizes to help fund this business, as well as a nursing practice he plans to eventually start with his mother, a nurse who earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees at Hunter. But he doubts that any prize will compare with the “surreal” experience of exchanging gifts with Obama.

“He gave us a pen, a little coin, and Presidential M&Ms on our way out. Probably never going to eat those.”