Vape Radio 56: Interview with Purebacco’s Daniel Walsh, and Why He’s Been Dubbed the “High Priest Of Vaping”

By May 18, 2015Podcasts
  • Interview with Purebacco’s Daniel Walsh, and Why He’s Been Dubbed the “High Priest of Vaping”
  • How Walsh Was Chosen to Design NJOY’S Artist Collection
  • Vaper’s Tastes Get Sophisticated

Links We Discuss

Daley-Displays-logo-web-300x212FlavorzHoly-Grail

 

Welcome again to Vape Radio, the voice of the vape space and your source for everything you want to know about the business of vaping. Whether you’re a brick and mortar location, developer of e-liquids, or a online marketer, learn from the first and the largest educational providers in the country with your host, the founder of Vape Mentors, Norm Bour.

Norm Bour:

Hello everyone and welcome to our show. This is show number 56. It is April and you know what? We’ve got a lot to talk about in this wonderful world of vaping. I want to introduce you to one of our supporters, one of our sponsors which is Holy Grail Vape. And you know what? We got a lot of calls inquires about this thing called CBD and what is it? Well, it’s not Marijuana and it doesn’t get you high, but it does relieve stress and put you in a calmer place. CBD is what I call vaping plus mellow and it’s legal in all fifty states. You’ve probably seen it on Fox, CBS, or NBC. It’s everywhere and it’s made from hemp. It’s 100% organic and we’ve found the best people to work with. We’ve interviewed Holy Grail on Vape Radio before and everyone we talked to loved their products. That’s why they’re here and that’s why I want you to try them. They offer 24 different flavors and you can smoke it, spray it, and apply it in lots of different ways. It’s called Holy Grail Life and may be just what you need to chill out. If you’re feeling a little bit stressed, mellow out naturally and be good to your body; visit them at HolyGrail.Life, that’s L-I-F-E, or call them at 866-623-6174. You can also go to vapementors.com/resources and we’ll go ahead and hook you up. If you tell them that you heard about it on Vape Radio, you’re going to get a free t-shirt with your purchase of Holy Grail Vape. Why Holy Grail? Well, because lifestyle, so give us a shout here at Vape Radio. We’re going to introduce you to their team of pros, visit us at vapementors.com/resourcepartners.

Also want you let you know about the archives for Vape use, six pillars to vape space success. This was the first online program that we put together this past winter. It’s now going to be available at vapementors.com/archive. You can get the entire 6 week program including video presentations from some of the top thought leaders of the vaping industry for just $347 or individual classes for just $67. If you’re new or want to get into the vape space or grow your brick and mortar online or e-liquid business, this is the best place to start. Any questions just call us here at Vape Radio or visit vapementors.com.

Okay, well today we have a theme. If you listen to the last two shows, the theme persisted. It was really all about e-liquid, and so today I want to introduce to you a gentleman that I’d heard his name mentioned many, many, many times. It seems like I’ve been hearing Daniels name from people … From Grimm Green, who’s a friend of the show and vaping instructor. Josh from Craft Vapery mentioned him and they’re the exclusive distributors of the artist collection. I’ve spoken about him with NJOY and they kept mentioning him, so I asked “Who is this guy? This Daniel Walsh guy from Purebacco?” So we’re going to introduce you to Daniel Walsh who is the founder of Purebacco and FlavorZ Academy. So Paul, go ahead and cue that puppy up and we’re going to introduce everyone.

Hello everyone. This is Norm Bour with Vape Radio, the voice of the vape space, and I’m absolutely thrilled today. We have a special guest. His name is Daniel Walsh and he is one of those persons that we encounter quite often in the e-liquid space who’s not that visibly prominent because he’s very modest about what he does, but if you are familiar with the artist collection from Njoy, which we have talked about many, many times on Vape Radio, and we’ve actually had one of the artists here, Daniel is one of the five people who has been so honored to be part of the artist collection. So Daniel, welcome to Vape Radio.

Daniel Walsh:

Thank you, Norm. Good to be here.

Norm Bour:

Thank you so much for joining us. First off, tell us a little about your company, which is Purebacco, and also about FlavorZ, which is your academy.

Daniel Walsh:

We actually started the parent company back in 2002 and we went through a lot of changes. We were pioneering different versions of technology. We were in the device segment for quite a while and at a certain point we decided we needed to have greater control of the manufacturing process. At that point, 2010, 2011, it seemed like e-liquid was … The stuff that we were all vaping was stuff that was coming out of very, very small boutique areas and we ended up buying a flavor company. We were already on the hardware side, and so we bought a small flavor company, and we decided to build our own e-liquid manufacturing operation. At that point in time, the best of the best was things like cherry. It wasn’t very complicated. Then you had this other side of this DIY movement and we wanted to cross it over and build the full proper lab with professional chemists and professional equipment and GC’s and quality controls that would allow us to bring some more elaborate flavors to the industry on a large scale

Norm Bour:

Daniel, I want to just go back to 2002. What were you creating for the vaping industry back in 2002? Because it was actually before its’ infancy and it was really just starting to do anything. What were you doing already back 13, 14 years ago?

Daniel Walsh:

I’m a professional scientist by trade, and I worked and lived in San Francisco, and a friend of mine and myself got together and we created a new company with the mission statement of, “to develop life-enhancing technology.” We didn’t actually even have an idea. We just had the idea that we would leave our day jobs, start a new company, and attempt to find something that would improve humanity. Go ahead.

Norm Bour:

I was going to say, that is a very compelling mission statement to make those kinds of significant processes. You said that you were a smoker? I’m sorry I interrupted you there.

Daniel Walsh:

Well, speaking of the business model itself, there’s a lot of different ways to attempt to run a business, but we’re sort of an Edward Deming’s model organization, and the belief is that if you can add value to people’s lives … And that is the fundamental underpinning of your organization, adding actual value to people’s lives, then you have the potential to make a very strong company. Not hype, not fanciful, not marketing, just start with a sincere value add, and you can do something amazing from there.

Norm Bour:

That’s awesome. So how did you venture into creating a company of e-liquids? Because I’d like to fast-forward from the early days when it was really a concept and more of an overall idea. So when did you start moving into e-liquid manufacture.

Daniel Walsh:

In the beginning, what happened was we were looking for our first concept, and e-cigarettes and vaping didn’t really exist in any commercial way at that point in time. I went to a quit smoking workshop; I was a semi-professional smoker. I was very good at smoking, and I was what they call a non-guilty smoker. I smoked without remorse, but I was trying to quit for some time until a quit smoking workshop. They had us inhale pine oil. It was a nebulized pine oil. I looked over at my buddy and I said, “You know what would make this perfect?” And he said, “No, what? What would make it perfect?” And I said, “Nicotine,” and it was like a lightbulb went off in both of our heads and we sat down to create this concept where we would attempt to extract carcinogenic molecules from the tobacco plant, and we would attempt to remove the combustion elements and combustion artifacts and produce a vaporizable variant of a tobacco product. At that point in time, we called it the smokeless smoker, and it was a ultrasonic nebulizer, hand-held, battery operated with a tobacco extraction … Still very, very primitive by comparisons. No flavor, no heat. You were actually vaping room temperature liquid.

Norm Bour:

Ouch. (laughter)

Daniel Walsh:

Yeah, it was terrible.

Norm Bour:

That does not sound very attractive, sir.

Daniel Walsh:

At the very beginning, you actually wore a dental inhaler. You put the mask over your mouth, because we were just trying to do proof of concept. Then at about 2004, a Chinese company came up with a very similar technology. By 2006, transduction had been really pioneered by a Chinese fellow named Hon Lik, and transduction gives you an entirely new set of options because now you have heat, now you have flavor, and we were just in love with the idea. We changed everything over and were attempting to produce high-performance vaporizers. We were one of the first companies with what we call now the 5-volt standard. We were pushing the watt range up to about 14 watts, even a little higher in some cases, and what we attempted to do was to bring a high-performance hand-held vaporizer. We came up with a thing called inferential analysis and it’s a statistically, algorithmically controlled device, hugely popular back in 2011, 2012 under a new brand identity we developed called Akston Hughes. At that point in time, we felt like, “Okay, the devices are good enough. We need better e-liquid.” We found this young guy out in Connecticut who was a young flavor artist and we brought him out here to Michigan, we took the bulk of everything that we had earned in the process, and we invested into what is now an 11,000 square foot e-liquid manufacturing facility.

Norm Bour:

Wow. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are considered iconic in the industry, early people. We’ve had Grimm Green on the air before and he started his reviews back in 2009. We’ve had Phil Busardo. I would have to say you predate them all, Daniel. You actually go back to before the beginning, before the big bang theory, so to speak, and your approach is certainly a lot different than a lot of people in this industry because of your scientific background. So let’s fast-forward a bit because one of the things that I did not know when we first introduced each other is that you were actually very, very integral in Njoy’s launching of the artist collect. So I’d love for you to share how that conversation came up, obviously without disclosing anything that is considered confidential, but you created your own flavor, which is called Paramour. That is correct, yes?

Daniel Walsh:

Yes, sir.

Norm Bour:

And according to your marketing material, it’s a combination of pear and peach. Just as an aside, when I had Randy in from Poet, who’s also one of your fellow artists, and when I had one of his associates from Craft Vapery, and we were talking about Paramour, and I didn’t know you at the time, but apparently Paramour is a very, very well received flavor, as they all are. So maybe share with us a little bit about how you created this relationship with Njoy or how they created this relationship with you and how you actually helped develop all the flavors.

Daniel Walsh:

Sort of like you said, I’ve quietly been behind the scenes for quite a while, and, like you mentioned, Grimm Green has been around since 2009, and so because I’ve been around for quite a while, I’m very good friends with Nick … Nick is Grimm Green … and when it came time for him to make his own product line, Namber Juice, I said, “Nick, why don’t you do that here in my facility?” And he said, “Really? We could do that?” And I said, “Yeah. We’ll take the entire flavor team. We’ll manufacture it, ISO-standards, everything top of the line, but you’ll be visionary and the team will make products and design products to meet your specification.” So ever since then, the Namber Juice product line is actually made here at the Purebacco facility … Made and distributed and all of that is done here. That being said, we have kind of picked up a reputation for being behind the scenes with a lot of different companies. One thing that myself as a scientist and an artist, I am very ardent that the individual, for example Nick, have creative control over his own products. What we say with Nick is, “We’ll be the hands, but you be the vision.”

Norm Bour:

Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Daniel Walsh:

“It’s your product line. It has to taste the way you want it to taste. It has to look the way you want it to look, and the customer service has to be done to our standards because we’re the ones doing the ones doing the customer service and we have really, really high standards for customer service.” As this played out over the years, different companies came to us because we’re known to have that artistic integrity and that attention to detail while not interfering with the creative vision of the client. Njoy had heard about us from one of our other clients, and they called us up and they said, “We’d like to contract the Academy to make a line of flavors for us.” And I said, “Ahh, I don’t think so.” And the agent said, “What? Why wouldn’t you want to do that?” And I said, “Because here’s the thing: if I deign all of your flavors for you, it’s going to have a certain signature feel. It’s going to have that Purebacco signature feel to it, and you’re going to be competing against my other products in the market. I have a dream of bringing in a tremendous body of brilliant artists, and putting them all together into a collection. So we take the best of the best from five different companies and create a product along those lines” Njoy was very excited about it, and they said, “That sounds brilliant!” Now, behind the scenes, for me the opportunity to bring those guys into my facility, those guys and girls, and to work with them, and to learn their techniques, and to put them with our team of artists, and for that intellectual property sharing is just … It fortifies and it improves what we’re able to do, and it was a ton of fun getting to work with all my friends. With Njoy we ended up coordinating the project, and we ended up getting to work with all of the different artists together to help get the entire project over the finish line and into the market.

Norm Bour:

That’s awesome. It’s interesting because I noticed in some of your material you’re called the high priest of vaping and I’m sure that you did not give yourself that title because you’re too modest for that, but you really are. You really are, Daniel, and here’s what I like about what you just shared, is the fact that you did not take it upon yourself to create all the flavors because you wanted to take the collective intelligence, the thought leaders from other people in the e-liquid space and bring them all together. But yet, you all learned from each other, and here at the Vape Mentors and at Vape Radio we are huge believers in collaboration. We also work with a lot of e-liquid manufacturers and we work with Molecule Lab. We have a very good relationship with Michael Guash over there, who’s the CEO. He’s actually one of our instructors within the VapeU program, and then we are just now rolling out a brand new VapeU program that is specifically geared towards e-liquid. So we see this e-liquid space as coming from where it was a handful of years ago as being people randomly putting stuff together with the intention of making a lot of money, and the elevation of quality has really increased. We’ve talked about this many, many times, that we as a nation have become connoisseurs of many, many, many different areas and you’re an example of a connoisseur within the e-liquid industry. So can you speak to what you think is the future direction, obviously speculative, of where you think the e-liquid market might be going? We don’t even want to get into to the FDA and the regulations, but I’m more looking along the artistry, Daniel, as far as, are people more selective about their product line than they used to be?

Daniel Walsh:

There’s a couple inversions which I see occurring in the macro market. One of them is there is a subset of the market which is very, very connoisseur driven, and they like things which are very exquisite and complicated tastes. One of my good friends put it this way. He said, “Not everybody likes scotch. Not everybody can tell the difference between a good scotch and a bad scotch.” If you don’t like scotch, and you can’t tell the difference between a good scotch and a bad scotch, have a beer, was his argument.

Norm Bour:

(Laughter)

Daniel Walsh:

I am a person who appreciates … I just appreciate good things, whatever they may be, whether they be … I actually put myself through college as a cabinet maker. I like fine craftsmanship, and I can appreciate the fine craftsmanship of something that’s not a connoisseur design. That being said, I think there’s just as much place for really, really outstanding single note flavors, things that are not complicated, things that are more subtle. We’re seeing that trend in Europe emerge that there are some very outstanding, very, very simple flavor designs. Over here, we’re seeing the advent of some very, very exquisite, complicated, rare designs, plant derivatives, and other things which are more complicated. We’re seeing an emergence of increased perception and knowledge in terms of the scientific acumen that more and more people are beginning to work at the molecular level. In the beginning, almost nobody worked at the molecular level. People would combine aggregates. Now, we’re beginning to see the flavor artists merge and evolve to molecular level artistry. That they’re not… They’re no longer working with peach, they’re actually working with the constituents.

Norm Bour:

Wow.

Daniel Walsh:

So at a macro level, what I see is the era of the backroom manufacturing may be playing out fairly quickly. Increased quality control standards, the advent of OSHA. A lot of people say, “Oh, there are no regulations. You can make this in a backroom.” That’s not actually true. Anytime you make anything, you are subject to occupational safety. So there are a ton of … and we saw this happen last year in New Jersey. One company was fined $180,000 for working with Nicotine without appropriate protective equipment and without appropriate environmental controls, and they said, “But there’s no regulations.” And they said, “There’s no regulations on e-liquid, but the handling of the raw materials is regulated under OSHA.” I think we’re going to see a more and more mature, responsible and professional industry. I think we’re going to see greater product consistency, and we’re going to see an improved overall product offering both in simple flavors and complicated flavors.

Norm Bour:

Wow. That’s an awesome overview, and I agree with you that not everyone has the fine palate to recognize the differences. I have a very good friend who is quite the wine connoisseur and we talk about the fact that he can recognize different boutiques, the different flavors, the different … all the components that go into a fine wine, but a lot of people do not. So you bring up a good point. Sometimes, they’re better off having a $5 bottle of wine as opposed to having a $25 bottle of wine.

I want to go ahead and wrap this up and talk about some of your other offerings through Purebacco and through also the FlavorZ Academy. Right now, it says that you have nine unique collections with 43 signature blends. That is quite extraordinary. Can you just for a moment expound upon what these collections might be all about and what the 43 signature blends might be … The various focuses they might have?

Daniel Walsh:

What we did was in the beginning we actually had 250 different flavors and we made everything basically one small, super small batch at a time. We then over the years reduced that down into the different categories. For example, you’ve got fruits, and you’ve got drinks, and you’ve got tobacco blends, and that we reduced down to … Every nine, no, twelve weeks … Every quarter, we take the top forty and we release those, then we cut the bottom 3 and add three more. So we always … Every 3 months we add three new flavors, if that makes any sense.

Norm Bour:

It makes a lot of sense. As a matter of fact, we as a consulting company recommend that our shops rotate their inventory about every 3-6 months, and do exactly what you’re saying because the market of course is very fickle, and it doesn’t stay loyal for anything for very long. So you are absolutely describing what we believe to be true as well.

Daniel, I have to tell you. On a personal note, this has been an honor to have you on the radio and for all of the millions of people who are going to be listening to this over the years to come, you are a great example of the direction that we see the e-liquid market going because it is becoming more professional. It is becoming higher quality. It is not a game for amateurs. It is not a game to play lightly by creating what you call a clean room in the back office simply because you wipe it down with some of a bleach.

Daniel Walsh:

(Chuckles)

Norm Bour:

This is a professional industry, and we’re very happy to be able to send people to you. The name of the company is called Purebacco. P-U-R-E-bacco, and then Flavor-Z, which FlavorZ Academy is the name of his program. Daniel, in closing, is there anything else … We’re going to put links to your website, to you on our show notes, but in closing is there anything that you would like to leave our audience with in regards to … Anything about your company or about the e-liquid market overall?

Daniel Walsh:

There was one thing that I will mention that’s kind of … This hasn’t been announced anywhere yet. What we discovered here in the facility … We’ve got 32 employees and the bulk of them are vapers. They were going to our R&D department, and asking for custom flavors be designed, and over the years of running the company, they would refine their personal all day vape. This ended up producing a total of nine flavors which had been refined over an almost … between nine months and three years. So the shortest period of time was nine months, and these are the actual all day vapors and they’ve been designed specifically for the different people who are at the center point of the Academy.

Norm Bour:

Awesome.

Daniel Walsh:

In about 60 days, we’re going to be releasing that entire collection to the industry. So that’s our newest collection.

Norm Bour:

Wow. That is a great enticement for the future, so if you-

Daniel Walsh:

Which I think is really fun.

Norm Bour:

Absolutely. So if you’re taking personalization down to the nth degree, that’s really what you’re talking about. You’re talking about people who live and breathe in this very connoisseur environment being able to share the different flavor developments and different flavoring blends that they’ve come up with. Daniel, I hope that as you’re ready to launch this, which will be sometime later in 2015, you let us know, and we’ll go ahead and share your information to our listening audience. So on behalf of Vape Radio, the voice of the vape space, and on behalf of myself, Norm Bour and Vape Mentors, thank you so much joining us and we will catch you the next time.

Well I don’t know about you guys but I found that to be a pretty, pretty darn fascinating industry. Seriously, this guy has been doing this since the early 2000’s, before the e-liquid, e-cigarette market even existed, and he has created some of the most amazing flavors out there, and that’s why he’s one of the artists within the artist collection. We here at Vape Radio we want to empower you. We want to make sure that you know that you have access to all the top information, all the top people, the thought leaders of the world, and that’s why we’re so happy to bring you Daniel from VaporZ Academy. Also, I want to mention to you that we have some amazing resource partners on our website. We have merchant services that you can use, go direct, and not have to have any middle people. Create your own line of e-liquids with a 100 bottle minimum. We’ve got Craft Vapery. We’ve got vape shop insurance. We’ve got start up or expansion finance. We’ve got wholesale accounts. We’ve got social media offerings. Guys, we have all these things at vapementors.com/resources, so just go ahead over there and check us on out.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the end of show number 56, and we have a really, really awesome time spending time with you. You’ve been listening to Vape Radio, it’s the voice of the vape space, the number one worldwide source for information about the business of vaping. Streamline directly to your phone or tablet. To be part of our grow Vape Mentor’s community, head on over to vapementors.com to learn more, catch up on our past shows or to learn how to grow or start your vape space business. Thanks again. Join us on our next show.

Author: Jesse Plautz