October 2014

Go Bananas For Monkey O’s

Words and photos by Alyssa Stahr

“I love when necessity breeds invention” was a
line voiced at the Monkey O’s booth at September’s
Electronic Cigarette Convention. And, that’s exactly
what the owners and founders of Monkey O’s
wanted to hear.

Gene Gamble and Miraj Patel went to a hookah lounge one night, and it completely changed their lives. Not big hookah smokers themselves, they were simply hanging out with friends. Then the friends started doing tricks with the smoke.

“It was crazy to us to see how much fun they were having with simple tricks. It created a different kind of vibe at that table. People were just amazed at what people could do with it,” Patel said.

The tricks immediately caught Gamble’s attention. He realized that people could have that same fun experience with vaping, and one night while watching “The Mask” with Jim Carrey, he saw the scene where Carrey was trying to seduce the girl.

“He was struggling with her and then he pulled out a cigarette and I thought, ‘This was it right there,’” he said.

Original plans for Monkey O’s included an o-ring, a clay product and a glass blower. Hired engineers went though about 50 to 60 prototypes until the partners came up with the one that they wanted about three months later. The duo understood that consumers want a low-cost solution, and they wanted something
non-glass shattering, so they decided on a plastic model.
“We didn’t know if it would work or not. We would get back five prototypes and work them out,” Patel said. “But, the very first time we tried blowing a bubble through it (the chosen one), it worked. We stress to our customers that it’s easier than you think.”

The Gainesville, Fla.-based duo had a fun time coming up with the company name while going through prototypes.

“It was pretty funny because while we were experimenting with the models we were talking about how we would explain to people how to use the product,” Patel said. “We were making all sorts of sounds to produce and we were going ‘oooohhh’ and ‘ahhhh’ and it sounded like a monkey. It kinda just came to us.”

Even though Monkey O’s are a simple product to use, there is some challenge to them, since Gamble didn’t want users to get bored. There isn’t a perfect “o” every time, and one can get up to 80 rings (so far) from one drag of a hookah or e-cigarette. Sizes can vary in thickness and can go several distances.

“Gene is the bubble man because he can blow the biggest bubbles. We have bubble contests on Instagram,” Patel said.

than or equal to 6 years old in the United States. That is almost 8,000 children, well let me rephrase that, which is a 1,600 percent increase than last year’s children nicotine poisoning from e-liquid.

Why are these numbers only found on the third page of Google results and not in front of our faces like the before mentioned? I unfortunately don’t have the answer to that, but my presumption is Phillip Morris & Company knows. I am willing to bet Big Tobacco knows, and my guess is that they are the ones behind all of the attacks on vaping.

It is no secret that Big Tobacco is taking a one-two punch from this new technology. With more people making the shift from analogs to electronics, Big Tobacco sales are declining. The e-cigarette industry still is in the minor leagues compared to Big Tobacco annual sales, but it’s enough to have them scout the competition. It’sforever, but I think you get the point. Use your own judgment,


“It’s always a new market. People are interested in new things and everything is just so open, especially with social media. I think it’s a movement,” Patel said. “You aren’t just inhaling and blowing something out. It gives an added element of fun. To blow smoke rings you have to practice, but with this even the most casual of vapers can do this.”

Customizable Monkey O’s also are available, along with a glow-in-the-dark product.

“The market is going into customizable. We’re working with a jewelry store owner to product high-end ones with 14K gold that we’re getting into now that we have our base product out there,” Patel said. “We’re doing something new and cool for the vapers (still in development) that’s gonna be sweet. The product that we have—we want to take it a long way. We’re here to grow together.”

For more information, visit https://www.monkey-os.com/.