September 2016

The Rush to Market: New Product Launch

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By Norm Bour

If there was such a thing as a horse race in the vaping world, this was it. With an August 8 deadline looming, we saw a flurry of new products rushing to market. Some of them went “on sale” with days to spare and some just under the wire. No doubt there were some that missed the mark, which we may never know about.

The good news is that they were not really racing against each other; they were racing against the recently announced FDA deeming regulations timelines. This “first milestone” stipulated that any products needed to be on the market no later than August 8, 2016 to avoid expensive PMTA approval for now. The definition of “on the market” was unclear, but for the most part these last minute launches had a web site and the ability to take orders.

We don’t really know how many there were, but there have been conversations and rumors that they numbered in the hundreds.

And the one thing we really needed was innovation, not just more of the same. We found it in two pieces of hardware. Both different, both innovative.

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Form and Function Combined

XOLO (pronounced Zolo) is the brainchild of Taman Powell, Ph.D. Like many, he found vaping a better alternative that cigarettes, but was frustrated with the complexity and inconveniences of modern vaping products. An Australian and a London resident, he compared them to “a screwdriver from Dr. Who,” to reference the classic sci-fi TV show. He wanted something small, discreet and with the ability to change liquids easily and without a mess.

With individually sold flavor pods, the XOLO is designed to look good and to vape the same. It looks like a piece of jewelry, which many manufacturers try for, but few hit. It also comes in multiple color choices.

The XOLO also has another founder involved that many know: Oliver Kershaw, head of ECF Forum, the largest vaping community in the world.

The brief story was that two years ago he was working on his own mod design and was introduced to Powell. Rather than work solo (pun) they combined teams and forces and two years later launched a collaborative effort.

“We thought we had a bit more time to bring this to market,” Kershaw confided, “but the new regs timetable was shorter than planned. We had to compress a four-month timetable in half that period.”

Kershaw, a longtime vaper, was focused on performance, whereas Powell, a business school professor of strategy and innovation, was concerned about design. They came up with the right combination.

“What we wanted was a product that was super convenience, super attractive and delivered that great vaping experience to smokers,” said Kershaw. “Add in the flavor within a closed-tank system that delivers measured dosage and have something that hopefully even a non-vaper would appreciate.”

When asked about their launch plan they had just one mission: get it out in the US before they took it anywhere else. “If it does well there, other places will follow.”

The product will sell for $65 and the flavor pods will be $12. For information: http://xolovape.com/

We were looking for discreet devices, and they have one.

The Ultimate in Stealth Vaping

Two significant camps of vaping are the Cloud Chaser that want maximum cloud volume and those that want to vape in peace where they want, when they want, and without disapproving glances from the public.

The Lattitude product may allow you to vape where you want, when you want- and no one will know.

Using a unique filtration system, the small palm sized mod allows you to vape your liquid of choice and exhale back into the device. The vapor is totally contained and is odorless. The ultimate in discretion.

This product has been in development since 2014 and is the brainchild of Yuval Shenkal, an Israeli inventor and engineer from San Diego. He and several associates took

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the inkling of an idea and after 24 months finally brought it to market.

“Imagine sitting in a theater or ballet or anywhere that vaping is not allowed. You could enjoy your pleasure with no one even knowing,” says Lee Mills, CMO.

They feel this product will appeal to the soccer Moms smoke behind closed doors and don’t want to put out vapor clouds, as well as thought that might enjoy thumbing their nose at heavy handed rules and restrictions.

The consortium of specialists in different areas had all the entrepreneurial skills to take this to market and started a crowdfunding campaign, which got squashed before it began. The XOLO project faced the same pattern and both projects were able to raise capital and fund it themselves.

But the Latitude team did not have vaping connections when it came to manufacturing, regulatory experience and distribution. That challenge was overcome by going to one of the largest manufacturers of devices in the US: JSPR Technologies.

The Walnut, California based powerhouse is the parent company of Council of Vapor, the manufacturer of many products they design and sell for others

They also are one of the largest liquid manufacturers in the nation with almost 50,000 square feet under one roof.

The two companies worked on the initial design and came up with the final product of this innovative model.

Keith Nash, VP of Marketing for JSPR said, “This was a project that was very exciting to us when we first met. We have made many different devices but we knew that this could be a real game changer. We are just as excited to be chosen as one of the authorized distributors of this great product.”

Retail price was undetermined at price time, but was expected to be in the $89 range.

Like the XOLO, this project is a combination of different companies with like-minded people and complementary skills. The vape space is ripe for such collaborations and we will see more in the future. With PMTA costs so expensive most companies cannot cover it without help.

Noted industry Bonnie Herzog, Managing Director, Beverage, Tobacco & Convenience Store Research with Wells Fargo Securities, has been saying for years that this industry will only grow with innovation. If we look at the less than 10-year history of mechanical devices and cigalikes, we have come a long way. How much further we go will be wonderful to watch.

Aside from these two hardware designs there may have been numerous liquids that got in under the wire. Do you know of any unique and innovative products that are new on the market? Please let us know and we will profile it.

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.3 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at norm@VapeMentors.com.