VAPEVIEW: The Cloud Chasers

The Cloud Chasers

Every individual has requirements for what they would call the “perfect vape.” For some it’s all about flavor and it just has to taste good. For others it’s juice heated to a precise wattage in a fresh cartomizer and the resulting plume. For some it’s being able to blow massive clouds on a mechanical mod after toiling over sub ohm coils, repetitiously working with wire and cotton until they get the math right. These are the cloud chasers.

 

Cloud chasing, as the practice has been coined, is the art of using sub ohm coiled atomizers on mechanical mods. The coils can be single, dual or multi configurations. Some cloud chasers are using ribbon wire and others are configuring their setups with nifty micro-coils. They spend their time talking on message boards and subreddits about their .8 ohm coils, showing pictures of his or her builds, coils aglow resembling the color of the sun, gloating about the lack of hot spots. On YouTube you can find the cloud chasers recording themselves expelling clouds so voluminous that if you watch long enough you’ll eventually think you see an animal form. There is no wispiness in the world of the cloud chaser. I am in awe and I am jealous.

 

What is utterly remarkable about the cloud chasers is how, in each posting or thread, they explain that safety cannot be overemphasized. There is an inherent risk of having a mod blow up in your face and your body covered in scarring battery acid if you are not careful, do not have your math correct, or are not aware of the amp limit or discharge rate of your battery. If you do not understand Ohm’s Law and how that correlates to the drain of your battery, then cloud chasing is likely not for you. It is dangerous if not done correctly and can cause serious bodily harm or burn your house down.

 

There are a lot of subcultures that make up the vape community. There are folks perfectly content with their streamlined eGo setups, the juice heads that have every flavor imaginable and the mod collectors that can tell you every spec of each device they own. The cloud chasers are the builders or Pecos Bill of vapor, wrangling their equipment to tame the perfect cloud.

 

 


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Moscow Vape Expo Encompasses 2015 Events Circuit

February 13, 2016

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Words and photos by Alyssa Stahr

First speaker and moderator of Day 1 of the Moscow Vape Expo, American Vaping Association President Gregory Conley, perhaps summed up our industry and the event best: “There’s plenty to learn. This is a very complex industry that is constantly changing and constantly evolving, so there’s plenty of room for opportunities to learn at this event.”

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Even though my last trade show of 2015 was held in Russia, it paralleled many aspects of the industry that are happening stateside. While the speakers (myself included for the first time) were inside a room speaking about advocacy, the crowd was outside hitting up the booths from around the world, taking photos with beautiful women and watching cloud chasers. All in all it was a festive atmosphere during both days at the Sokolniki Exhibition and Convention Centre, and I was happy with the turnout of the crowd inside the conference doors. Even though many of the listeners of our panel didn’t speak English, they were provided a translator, and it was a smooth event.

Conley was up first, and he spoke about “Lessons to be Learned from America’s War on Vaping.” He began with his story as a smoker for about eight years, and then in 2010 he bought an open vapor product and finally quit successfully. Conley didn’t pull any punches as usual, speaking about the disruptive technology of the industry and the threat we are to the tobacco industry. He started off with a theme that would echo throughout the day’s presentations: where regulations are in different parts of the world and how people are trying to destroy vaping.

“I believe very strongly in the phrase, ‘Know Your Enemy,’” he said. “Your biggest enemy is going to be tobacco control.”

Conley shared with listeners about minor bans, taxation, child-resistant packaging laws and vaping bans across the United States. Perhaps the most telling of statements in his speech was that smokers are not proud to smoke.

“Maybe it’s different in Russia, but I don’t think so. Vapers are proud to vape,” he said.

Next on Conley’s agenda were the FDA’s deeming regulations in the United States and the importance of the grandfather date. With more than 100,000 vapor products on the market, the deeming regulations could shrink the market by more than 99 percent, according to Conley.

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“The FDA has admitted they expect businesses to close,” he said.

He went into how the public is getting mixed messages about vaping risks. In 2010, 85 percent believed that e-cigs were safer than cigarettes. That number dipped in 2015 due to misinformation. Only 44 percent of U.S. citizens believe ecigarettes are less hazardous than smoking.

He closed with some general ways to win or survive in the industry. He said that America has made a lot of bad mistakes in marketing our products. Yes, it’s the center of vaping, but we’ve done a lot of stupid things, he shared. He then went into Federal Regulation and The Tobacco Control Act and explained to the crowd about how important it was to know about it if they were going to make e-liquids and work with the United States.

“Don’t make vaping in Russia about clouds. Make vaping in Russia about getting off cigarettes. Clouds are fine, but don’t make that the biggest part of your marketing. If you make it all about clouds, the public is going to think you’re a bunch of hustlers and that you’re not making it about health, you’re just making it worse,” he said.

I was next, and I talked about innovations and trends that VAPE Magazine reported on in 2015. I shared with the crowd trends I’ve seen about cloud chasing, device innovations, hot products, vaping for a cause, protecting your right to vape, premium e-liquids, events and customer service in brick and mortar locations. I received a lot of Q&A, mostly about the demographics of vapers in the United States.

Derick Kvass of Kvass Inc., the event’s platinum sponsor, spoke briefly about why it’s important as an industry that we create a united front and uphold our standards and what our purpose is, which is to create alternative methods for smokers.

“What I love about it is that we are helping people every single day,” Kvass said.

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Next up was Jordan Stewart, co-founder of the E-Cigarette Club. Jordan Stewart from the E-Cigarette Club started his talk off by saying that we need to try to raise the level of customer service in the industry. Owning three brick and mortar stores in the north of Ireland with his wife, he addressed the state of what’s happening in Europe and the Tobacco Products Directive (TPD) and stressed education.

“We’re facing a serious challenge. A challenge that actually may come March of next year. We might not even have a business or a business that is completely unrecognizable to what we have today,” Stewart said.

He then played an excerpt from the highly-anticipated documentary, A Billion Lives.

After a delicious lunch, coffee and muffin break, Beju Lakhani, CEO and founder of VapeMoshi, presented, “Leveraging Technology to Grow Your Vape Business.” Based in Toronto, Canada, Lakhani also serves as president of the Canadian Vaping Association. With former senior roles at Salesforce.com, Oracle and CenturyLink, his theme was how retail has changed and tools that are available outside of the brick and mortar shop to help businesses succeed.

The day’s presentations closed with Yush Zhu, director of marketing and sales for Ruvian Technology, an e-cigarette manufacturer in China. Zhu’s talk centered around a development overview and the e-cig industry’s regulations in China, Chinese e-cigarette market analysis and the “other side of Made in China.” Chinese regulations are predicted to take even longer, according to Zhu, with a clear policy of regulations “by 2020.”

“The Chinese authorities are really closely observing in Europe the TPD and in U.S. with the FDA,” he said.

After discussing demographics of Chinese vapers, he stressed targeting a different type of customer in China. “If you want to target a different type of customer, you need to have a different kind of strategy in China.”

All in all, the two days of Vape Expo Moscow were a great success. The show floor was busy with vapers and booming businesses, cloud chasers and advocates. Organizers are preparing for next year’s event, to be held June 24-26, 2016.

For more information, visit http://vapeexpo.ru/en.

Business to Business Done Right

February 12, 2016

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Words and photos by Norm Bour

That elusive target of vaping events that provide a true business-to-business environment may have gotten one step closer with Vape Nights 2015, held at the Ontario Convention Center in Ontario, Calif., which used to house the Electronic Cigarette Convention (ECC) for several years until it got too large. As bigger is not always better, Vape Nights had a smaller crowd than other mega-shows, but it provided a sense of intimacy, which is what business-to-business should be about.

Event promoter and founder Ray Yang, president of R2MediaHub, is a big proponent of education and made it a priority to offer top-notch speakers. With celebs like Austin Hopper, founder of REVOL Vapors, sharing his tips on taking

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an unknown product into the spotlight, the attentive crowd got what they wanted: inside information and little-known, but common-sense, secrets.

Michael Guasch, CEO of Molecule Labs, had to revise his initial presentation due to the FDA regs that were delivered to OMB the week prior. “I wanted my talk to be timely, since these regulations were worse than I feared, and I needed to let everyone know that compliance is important,” he said. Guasch spoke about the pros and cons of producing your own e-liquid, versus having a contractor do the job, and profiled what the proper lab show look like. Since the vast majority of exhibitors were e-liquid companies, this was a particularly timely subject, and their prominence was even more noteworthy due to the lack of distributors and hardware manufacturers at the event.

The always entertaining Gregory Conley, president of the American Vaping Association, spared no one’s emotions as he drilled down the details of these new rules. “All that really matters is that we move the Grandfather Date of Feb. 15, 2007, to something more current,” he said. “Everything else takes second place to that.” His ominous words fell hard as Conley confessed, “I’m not in the business of making people happy.”

Cynthia Cabrera, president of SFATA, was a last-minute addition, and between her and Conley, they gave the crowd the most up-to-date information available.

I spoke about “taking your business to the next level” in this soon-to-be more competitive and challenging world.

Like many events these days, this one started on Thursday with B2B and continued through Friday. Saturday was consumer day, which, surprisingly, many vendors chose to skip. In addition, many that did show up came late to the party.

The standard operating procedures of vaping shows seem to be changing. Though they are still noisy and smoky, with scantily clad babes running around everywhere, one thing that seems to be on the downswing is offering of free

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samples. Most provide on-site sampling only, and some sell retail, whereas others do not.

Stevie Blackburn from Ethos Vapers was an exception, as someone that likes consumer days and loves seeing their customers’ eyes light up when they try something they enjoy. When asked if Ethos Vapers offers free product samples, Blackburn said, “We try not to do it at shows. We know it damages the local shops when they leave with sacks of free product. But, if they contact us afterwards and request a sample, then we know they are more serious.”

This was a great opportunity to bring major thought-leaders together with the public, so VapeMentors hosted a dinner on Day Two with all the speakers and members of the public that wanted to know how they got there. Overall, the dinner was an enlightening success, and the MasterMind dinners will be offered at future events.

This show was particularly well run, though it was smaller than others both in vendor size as well as crowd attendance. This probably will be the template for the future. The trend seems to be smaller, regional events in different parts of the nation. There is still a battle for the “bigger is better” trophy, and there are several contenders; many promoters are driven to host mega-events. Time will tell who has staying power.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors, which offers online educational programs, services and resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also host of Vape Radio, a podcast series that interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.

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