Vape Radio 46: Master of Vape Randy Freer Pursues Excellence with P.O.E.T. E-Juice

By January 20, 2015Podcasts

Links We Discuss:

[columns] [column size=”1/4″]Ventury Capital[/column] [column size=”1/4″]Craft Vapery[/column] [column size=”1/4″]Poet eJuice[/column] [column size=”1/4″][/column] [/columns]

Norm Bour:

Hey everybody. Welcome back. This is Vape Radio, The Voice of Vaping. I’m your host Norm Bour. This is show number 46. You know what guys, during this month of January, we’re going to hit show number 50 and I’m really ecstatic about that. For those of you who are listening in the United States, we certainly say hello and welcome. For those of you who are listening overseas, same thing. I want to introduce you to a new sponsor of the show. I try to be selective about who I try to do business with and I wanted to introduce you to Ventury Capital.

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Nick and Ventury recently teamed up with Kevin Harrington, a name you may know as one of the sharks on one of my favorite TV shows Shark Tank and they do something that few people in the vape space do. They actually help fund startups as well. I know there’s a lot of you out there that have dreams, they have visions, but they don’t have any money and the question is how fast can Ventury move, well, how’s 24 hours? Is that quick enough for you? Give them a call at 844-836-8879. Tell them you heard about this through Vape Radio and they’re going to send you a special report on how vape shop owners are doing it right and crushing in this growing industry. Once again that toll free number is 844-836-8897.

Norm Bour:

On to our topic of the day. I don’t usually have live guests in our studio but we do today. We actually have two. Again, I’ve mentioned before, the Njoy Collection which I call medium tobacco even though they really aren’t. Njoy is a manufacturer of e-cigarettes. They are definitely innovative, definitely movers and shakers outside the box. They were the first ones to actually roll out 10 flavors of e-liquids that they put it at the c- stores which you see them everywhere. They also created something that’s very, very cool and it’s called the Artist Collection.

We’re going to talk to one of the artists and we’re also going to be here with Joshua from Craft Vapery who’s the exclusive distributor but first, let me introduce you to Randy Freer.

Randy Freer:

Hello.

Norm Bour

Randy, tell us about your experience in vaping, how long you’ve been doing it, were you a smoker.

Randy Freer:

Oh yeah, absolutely I was a smoker, a pack a day for almost 30 years. I started vaping just about three years ago, so still I guess fairly new to the industry.

Norm Bour

Did you right away decide that you thought heck I can make this stuff right?

Randy Freer:

When I started, there was a lack of resources. There was a lot of new product coming out but availability was a big issue. In my inherent nature is when I can’t get something, I just delve into it and got to go after creating it myself.

Norm Bour

Good for you. This was what year that you started this?

Randy Freer:

2013.

Norm Bour

Okay, so this is your third year that you’re going on right now. Share your experience of how you started growing your e-liquid company and how in the world did you ever get on the radar of a company of the stature of Njoy?

Randy Freer:

I’ve been trying to figure that out myself.

Norm Bour

Well, obviously it’s because you make some good stuff because let’s face it, they found five people in the entire world so you realize that you’re as rare as almost anything else that’s rare. You’re one of five people that created this awesome flavor and what is the name of your awesome flavor by the way?

Randy Freer:

Dragon Scape.

Norm Bour:

Dragon Scape, okay. I have a box of the Artist Collection right here in front of me. Tell me why Dragon Scape, does that have any type of meaning?

Randy Freer:

The naming process we actually didn’t really get involved with a whole lot. It was more just the flavor profiles that we went after. When we came into the project, the art and the presentation and everything on the outside of the flavor profiles was really Njoy’s baby.

Speaker 2:

Can I interrupt you just a second? I’m the engineer, I’m just speaking up because I got to say, this is the coolest looking packaging I’ve ever seen.

Norm Bour:

This is awesome packaging. This is beautiful stuff.

Speaker 2:

I feel like … It’s in a box, it looks like a cigar box and then you open it up and then there’s individually wrapped, very attractive looking little boxes and cool graphics and everything, I thought I was looking at specialty teas or little single malt whiskeys. It had that kind of feel to it. I had no idea what it was until you opened it up here.

Norm Bour:

For those of you who are watching on YouTube, I’m holding up one of Randy’s flavors. That’s an interesting point because Randy and I were talking before about the world of vaping and the world of e-liquids and how it’s now, I’m not going to say it’s gravitating towards but it’s certainly engaging a lot of what we call connoisseurs. You agree with that, don’t you?

Randy Freer:

Absolutely, yeah. I love seeing it come too.

Norm Bour:

Where do you see the future of vaping? Are people still going to buy the cheapest crap out there because it’s the cheapest crap out there and then you’re going to have the upper echelon that’s buying the stuff that’s really high quality?

Randy Freer:

Yeah, I think it’s indicative of any industry that deals in a product like this be it alcohol or even cigarettes or cigars. You have everything from your lower price points that are easier to afford all the way to your high end gourmet connoisseur markets. As more and more people come into it, I think we’ll see a lot more of those channels shift.

Norm Bour:

Let’s step back to where we were a few moments ago. How did you actually transition into making your own juice? Did you just start making stuff in the back room like everyone did a couple years ago?

Randy Freer:

Yeah. It all started at home. It was actually Christmas Eve back in 2012 going into 2013. I took a thousand dollars that I had and ordered up a bunch of flavors and a bunch of VG, PG and nicotine and just started mixing on the front table trying to see what I can create for myself.

Norm Bour:

That’s amazing. I talk about the fact that this vaping industry is very generous to entrepreneurism. I’ve been an entrepreneur for the last 40 years and I find that there’s so many opportunities in this space and for those of you who are out there listening right now, please pay attention to this. It’s great that you have passion for what you do. It’s great that you quit smoking after years or decades and it’s great that you want to now change the world. Well, the truth is that it can be done, but you have to have one, some luck, you have to be in the right place at the right time and you also have to have a little bit of strategic direction behind it.

Walk us through the process of making this in your back room to what the next steps have been because a lot of people out there who have this vision and they think that all you got to do is buy some stuff and buy some nicotine and buy some flavoring and suddenly you start putting it together and people don’t realize it’s more challenging especially today because I’ve watched the proliferation of e-liquid companies and it’s growing exponentially. How did you start generating the activity on your business?

Randy Freer:

It just started by making stuff for myself and going back and forth into VapeRev, the store that I was going into at that time, and having people there that I trusted and helped me to grow into the world of vaping and just coming from a side that was sure novice. I had no idea. It was delving into forums and delving into the internet and trying to decipher where the quality levels were because for me one of the things I always try to do is bring the best quality that’s available.

Norm Bour:

Basically you found the distributor through VapeRev which by the way is a company I also respect and has some huge, huge potential and they’ve already realized a lot of growth. They were your primary outlet for distribution of your P.O.E.T.s?

Randy Freer:

Yeah.

Norm Bour:

An odd name, P.O.E.T., I’m sure people ask you all the time. Tell us again where it came from.

Randy Freer:

It’s actually been in fruition for quite a few years. Before e-liquids, we messed around with custom guitars, custom amps, custom knife making, so it’s always been a pursuit of excellence and tone or taste or …

Norm Bour:

You kept everything except for the T. You modified that as you needed to.

Randy Freer:

Exactly, exactly.

Norm Bour:

I’m going to go ahead and introduce everyone to Josh with Craft Vapery and Josh, thanks for sticking around here.

Joshua Crane:

Sure.

Norm Bour:

Tell us about your experience because you and I shared an interesting conversation about what got you into vaping as well.

Joshua Crane:

First off from a personal level, I have emphysema and that’s really what drove me to needing an alternative. I left the doctor’s office and the diagnosis, smoked a pack of cigarettes, not really knowing what to do and a couple of weeks later, the CEO of Safe Cig, the first real e-cig brand in the US, slid a starter kit across the table to me and that was my intro, a lightbulb went off and I ultimately became the chief marketing officer for Safe Cig. I became that passionate about it that it was a life-changing moment for me. It was a way out of my addiction to cigarettes. At the time, my thoughts were it was a way out of the progressive degeneration of my lungs through COPD and emphysema.

Norm Bour:

Had you continued to smoke, it would have eventually killed you.

Joshua Crane:

Absolutely. It killed my father and yet that wasn’t enough motivation for me to not smoke in the first place. It was a highly addictive thing. For me it was a health thing and then once the lightbulb went off, it was an area that I was really able to apply a mix of passion and my business experience and find some really good success in the space. Fast forward, after Safe Cig’s demise, I found myself curating for my friends. I would go from vape shop to vape shop to vape shop with a notebook and I’d have Norm written in there and Randy written in there and I’d have your flavor profile written down and what I got for you the last week.

When that notebook was a little out of control, I looked at some friends who are in the venture capital space and said, “This is a business.” I spend every weekend curating people’s vape experience for them. This is the same experience that I would expect to get from a high end shop like VapeRev and I think most vapors are missing out on this experience, so how do we bring that to the mass market and that’s how Craft Vapery was born.

We started a subscription program where essentially my trained team of expert curators could help you to decipher what was good and what was bad, help you to vet what was out there in terms of quality. We actually worked for months with VapeRev to be able to carry P.O.E.T. specifically.

Norm Bour:

Awesome.

Joshua Crane:

Yeah. I’m actually really honored to be in the same room with you, Randy. You’re on my short list of vape celebs to meet.

Randy Freer:

I’m just a normal guy.

Joshua Crane:

That’s what’s so cool about this industry is that it’s full of normal guys-

Norm Bour:

Just people, modest people too.

Joshua Crane:

-with a passion and those that are able to take that acumen from the real world and other businesses and apply it to their passion and bring it to the vape space, I think that’s where we really see the magic start to happen. That’s where brands like P.O.E.T. really stand out from the others that are out there.

Norm Bour:

Being that you’ve been a judge and a jury and a critic of e-liquids out there, if you had to say the majority of the liquids are good, bad, medium, how would you break down? Is 10% really fine quality or is it more than that and a lot of it is really …

Joshua Crane:

Maybe less, Norm.

Norm Bour:

Really?

Joshua Crane:

Yeah. I’d say 90+% of it is poor quality. I don’t mean to besmirch anyone here.

Norm Bour:

Of course.

Joshua Crane:

I think it’s really about the evolution of how to create these things. It was very easy in the early days to add one flavor base, PG, VG, some nicotine, now you’ve got watermelon. I think that what I’m finding as the industry matures it’s the flavors that are more complex, more layered, more like a cocktail, more like the little nuances of what make a great dessert great or a great cocktail great and it’s the juice makers who are able to really layer their flavors together. I think in the Artist Collection there’s not a single flavor that has less than four or five constituent parts.

Norm Bour:

If we look at the growth of other industries and I’ve often compared the growth of vaping to the automobile industry because once upon a time, it was a free market and there was no government regulation and then the automobile manufacturers started working with the government to start putting some things in there, but once upon a time, we were happy with four wheels, an engine, transmission and a seat. Today, you’re not going to get a car unless it has all the accouterments. Once upon a time, power windows were an accessory. Oh wow you got power windows, how awesome. Now you need a backup.

Basically we become a nation of connoisseurs in something as simple as our automobiles to the point of where we don’t want just a regular little house with nothing in it, we want a house with all the electronics in it and the stereo and the Wi-Fi. I think we as a nation have become a little spoiled, not ready to settle for the regular mediocre things of life and we actually want to have the finest things in life and it just so happens this is presenting itself through something as everyday as e-liquids.

Speaker 2:

This is for you then because listen to what it says in the package here, I’m enamored looking at the package here, “a sophisticated suite of masterful taste sensations, pushing the limits of experiential flavor indulgence.” Oh my goodness! What language, what flowery …

Norm Bour:

You didn’t write that, did you Randy?

Joshua Crane:

Was that what you had in mind, Randy, when you did this? I see all that.

Randy Freer:

No.

Norm Bour:

We’re coming to the end of this particular section and we’re going to carry it on with the next show because this is something that I can talk on endlessly because exploring entrepreneurism, we’re talking about creating a brand new product and Craft Vapery being the exclusive distributor. Josh, give everyone the contact information. By the way, we at Vape Radio and VapeMentors are honored to be part of their distribution team, but if someone wants more information on Craft Vapery, they’re going to where?

Joshua Crane:

To our website www.craftvapery.com and that’s V-A-P-E-R-Y. There are a couple of V-A-P-O-R-Y’s out there so I want to make sure that I’m clear that our Vapery is V-A-P-E-R-Y.

Norm Bour:

Nice.

Joshua Crane:

They can feel free to either purchase a bottle directly or sign up for our subscription program and get our expert’s picks.

Norm Bour:

When we come back, we’re going to talk about the mechanics of exactly where this liquid came from, where it’s going, how you can get some for yourself and how you might even be able to get a free sample as a listener to Vape News Radio. Do not go away. This is show number 46. This is Vape Radio, Norm Bour The Voice of Vaping. We’re going to be right back.

Author: Norm Bour

Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and the host of the award-winning podcast Vape Radio. He’s a vape industry coach, speaker, author and can be seen rubbing shoulders with the top influencers in the vape industry.