The business of… skateboarding: BullyBoy Griptape

Feb 17, 2022

Francesco with the author’s board and his ‘Psycho’ printed grip tape.

The first in a series of blunt mag articles about current ‘DIY’ skateboarding startups and other similar independent entrepreneurs in South Africa.

Words and photos by Kola Cohen

Inspired by the blandness of the common modern skateboard grip tape, Capetonian Francesco Pareti took a deep dive into the web and realised that ‘unorthodox’ grips were mostly designed for a younger market. So he sketched up some more graphics aimed at a more mature audience and sent them off to be printed.

Now, Francesco Pareti is the owner of BullyBoy grip, a progressive skate brand that has recently become popular at local skate parks.

His various projects range from griptape to NFTs and represent the industrious nature you need in order to run a start-up in the skate industry.

In the pursuit of a brand name Francesco found himself searching through a thesaurus looking for a word that means rough and violent like the character of his griptape. He stumbled upon the word bullyboy – meaning: “A tough, aggressive man”.

The appealing double B alliteration cemented the name into Francesco’s mind. He then brought some samples into a few skate shops and was blown away by the response to his products.

BullyBoy originated as a holiday job, but the early success of the business inspired Francesco to turn it into a full-time gig.

He figures Cape Town is the perfect place to run his business. “It’s filled with different styles, influences, and cultures which is an excellent foundation for the birthing of some unique designers,” he says.

Francesco wants to allow independent creatives to display their skills, and believes that his grip tape is the perfect canvas for them to do so.

Kola Cohen, blunt nose grab to fakie, Eyethu skate park, Hout Bay, Cape Town. Photo by bluntEd.

Grip tape is not the only place we can expect collaborations and funky designs from Bullyboy. Francesco is expanding his product range into clothing, apps and NFTs. The idea that the world is becoming more digitised everyday brought him to the realisation that selling physical products alone would be a huge challenge.

Francesco’s app, bullybox, is a mobile game where people can compete to win free griptape by placing first on leaderboard. He’s also planning on dropping the grip tape designs as NFTs before the physical restock of that grip. People who buy these NFTs would then receive a percentage of the profits depending on their design. For example, if they purchased a ‘Tokyo grip’ NFT, they would receive a small portion of the profits for that specific grip sold.

Francesco’s various projects range from griptape to NFTs and represent the industrious nature you need in order to run a start-up in the skate industry

Francesco doesn’t have any business mentors and has had to learn through tons of trial and error. Although mistakes are often made, he reckons that transparency is key to creating trust and loyalty between the brand and consumers. This is why he shares his creative process online.

For BullyBoy, the consumers are a big part of the progressive journey of the brand. The company’s social media presence, friendliness and involvement in the skate community have all been the pillars of success for Francesco’s brand.

When we asked Francesco what advice he would give a younger skater if they wanted to start a business, he said, “They need to have a great, arguably better product than the best. They need a product that stands out and is affordable to all skaters. And, most importantly, they need to market their brand to the max. The skate brand world is surprisingly competitive. Changing a skater’s mind on a brand they have been using for years is challenging, so you need a great product that can genuinely improve the consumer’s skating experience.”

Website: Bully Boy grip
Instagram: bullyboy_grip
Tiktok: bullyboygrip
Mobile app: Bullybox

Contact Francesco on: 083 228 2266

If you would like your brand or company to be featured in, please send us an email at

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