February 2016

Crowd Chasers: Professionalism is Intrinsic to Intrinsic E-Liquid Founder


By Maria Verven

New E-Liquid Company Makes Big Waves Right Out of the Gate

The first question one might ask the owner of a new e-liquid company is: Why start an e-liquid business at this late a date?

Jodi Santino, co-owner and founder of Intrinsic e-Liquid, fired back a quick answer.

“When we attended the ECC show in 2014, we saw a lot of companies run by people who seemed very inexperienced with regard to the big business world,” she said. “It was like the wild, wild West. With my biotech background, I already understood the fact the FDA was coming, but it didn’t appear to be a main concern of many I met.”

After earning a degree in accounting and a master’s in international business, Santino and her husband/business partner both garnered years of business experience. “Thanks to our finance and biotech backgrounds, we understand what it takes to launch and sustain a successful business,” Santino said. “I have a knack for numbers. We bring more to the table than most.”

She continued to work full-time as a controller for a large insurance provider while writing the business plan for Intrinsic, finally quitting her job in June when they launched Intrinsic at Miami’s World Vapor Expo. Their debut was quickly followed by appearances at Chicago’s Vapor Expo and the ECC in Pomona, Calif.

Like many, Santino’s passion for the industry comes from having someone close to her die from smoking-related illnesses.

“I’m the epitome of the heavy smoker’s kid from the ‘70s,” she said. “My biological father passed away from coronary disease at a young age. When my little brother took up smoking, my mom and I were vehemently against it. At the end of the day, vaping helped him quit. That impressed the heck out of me because he had tried to stop on numerous occasions.”

Intrinsic’s e-liquids are made by a contract manufacturer in an ISO 7 clean room inside a cGMP compliant lab. “I got the impression at the 2014 show that if you used a manufacturing company to produce your juice, you were a poseur, a fake,” Santino said. “But, flash forward to 2015, and I’m amazed to see how much the industry has matured in just one year. People understand this is a serious business, and government regulations will be imposed to ensure the safety of the consumer.”

Intrinsic uses NicSelect USP (U.S. Pharmacopeia-grade) nicotine for all of its flavors. “It was not a hard decision at all,” Santino said. “We tested others. We weren’t going to mess with anything from China. We wanted something that was premium. Hands down, NicSelect is the best. It was almost a given, but we did our research. We let our manufacturer do some blending and testing and make sure it was all kosher. We’re exclusively using NicSelect and have no plans to use anything but.”

Intrinsic also uses USP kosher food-grade vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol in all its flavors; the mix is 70 percent VG, 30 percent PG. All Intrinsic e-liquids are diacetyl free and come in four nicotine levels: 0 mg, 3 mg, 6 mg and 12 mg.

Before launching their first three flavors, Santino pulled together a tasting group that included a local vape shop in Simi Valley and a circle of advisers. “The market is oversaturated with juice companies, but we feel our flavor profiles stand up and hold their own against the competition,” she said.

Thanks to aggressive outreach directly to vape shops, via distribution channels and strategic alliances, Intrinsic has made great headway in getting its e-liquids out in the market. Santino said they worked hard on the pricing structure “so everyone makes money up and down the chain.”

Intrinsic now is “firmly planted” in the areas where the vape shows were held; somewhere between 50 and 100 shops in Florida and the Carolinas, New England, Chicago and the Midwest, and all over the West, now carry the brand. Thanks to an aggressive international sales rep, Intrinsic now is carried in a dozen other countries, including Australia, Guam, Lithuania, Malaysia, South Africa and the U.K.

Santino attributes their early worldwide success in part to successful branding. “When creating a concept for our premium e-liquid, we turned to our city for inspiration. We took the city of L.A., the most photographed city in the world, and used it as our backdrop for marketing,” she said. “People all over the world want stuff that comes from L.A. It’s been a very pleasant surprise.”

The names of their e-liquids clearly reflect the frenetic pace of the city where they’re made: “Rush,” a blend of vanilla and mint; “Skyline,” a mix of lemon, dragon fruit and raspberry; and “Traffic,” their dessert blend of peanut butter and banana. “We sure stopped traffic with this flavor,” states the description on the Intrinsic website.

Santino said Intrinsic will be debuting two new flavors around Thanksgiving. They’re keeping the names and flavors secret for now, but there’s very little doubt they will be intrinsic to vapers’ tastes and the city of L.A.

For more information, call http://www.intrinsiceliquid.com/.

The original Vaping Vamp, Maria Verven is partner and chief marketing mentor with VapeMentors.