Vape Radio 60: Austin Hopper of Revol Vapors Part II: The Revol Story

By August 12, 2015Podcasts
Vape Radio 60: Austin Hopper of Revol Vapors Part II: The Revol Story

Show Summary:

Austin shares his insight on developing flavoring lines. Collaboration is critical in the development of flavorings. The Flavoring Bible: learn what flavors mix together

Vape Radio 60: Austin Hopper of Revol Vapors Part II: The Revol Story Click To Tweet

What you’ll hear today:

  • Austin shares his insight on developing flavoring lines
  • Collaboration is critical in development of flavorings
  • The Flavoring Bible: learn what flavors mix together
  • Don’t get emotionally attached to your decisions or be too proud to ask for help

 

  • Where did the name Revol come from?
  • Finding your “WOW”
  • We celebrate the introduction of “Vapreneur” to his vocabulary!

Paul:
Welcome back to Vape Radio. Your source for everything you want to know about the business of Vaping. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar, developer of E-liquids online marketer, or anyone else in the Vape Space, you should learn from the first, the biggest, the best, educational providers in the country. With your host, the founder of that organization VapeMentors, it’s the Vape Master himself, Norm Bour.

Norm:
Here we are guys. We are at episode number 60 for Vape Radio. We’ve got over 520,000 downloads. For those of you who are new, or for those of you who have been following us for awhile, we can’t thank you enough for everything that you’ve done. We just ask that you keep listening as we hit 1,000,000 downloads by the end of the year. That is our goal.

I want to introduce you to one of our new sponsors. I want to welcome the Council of Vapor to our radio show. You might not have heard of the Council of Vapor, but you know, you will. If you have a concept for a mod or pen of any style, these are the pros to speak with. They create sleek, high quality vaping hardware and will help you with your design, prototype, and manufacturing. They already produce some of the top-sellers out there including the Royal Hunter and the Kindred Lions. They create only high-quality products.

That’s just the beginning. They just opened up one of the largest E-liquid production centers in the country, with over 50,000 square feet under one humongous roof. I’ve been there and they are already manufacturing for some of the top names in the industry, and they want to work with you. They’re going to help you with your hardware and E-liquid needs no matter what size company you have. You can go to the councilofvapor, singular, thecouncilofvapor.com.

They’re also rolling out a new line called “Ozmos” with eight new flavors, ranging from sweet desserts to cocktail juices. What’s so special and different about them? They’re willing to show you. If you contact them and mention Vape Radio, they’re going to send you an exclusive sample pack of all eight flavors. Once again, that website is thecouncilofvapor.com.

We did something a little different here today. This is only the second time where I’ve actually carried an interview over into two segments. I met with my friend, my associate, Austin Hopper formerly of Cuttwood, now with Revol. I’m going to reveal the name right here for the first time, Revol. You’re going to find out during the course of this interview where that name Revol comes from. I wish I had had it on video because of Mr. Hopper, he got all embarrassed. You’re going to find out right now why.

Welcome back to Vape Radio. This is your host Norm Bour. The voice of the Vape Space. If you have been listening to part one of our interview with Austin Hopper, you’re probably saying I want more. I want more. You know what? I want more too. I coerced him, twisted his arm, begged him, paid him. Did whatever I had to do. He’s back again. There’s so much more to talk about. Realistically, the likelihood and the chance of getting this guy in one room, when he’s not in an airplane, is very very challenging.

You talked before we went onto the break about the challenges of developing new flavors. I’m sitting here at his office in Orange County, California with a half a dozen or so different vials. How in the world does someone come up with that amazing flavor? How do we know it’s just not our biased taste buds that are causing us to think it’s better than what it is?

Austin Hopper:
The smart thing for me is, I always collaborate with people that are much smarter than me. Finding out what goes with what. I had the privilege of working with Aaron Peterson who talked about the flavor bible.

Norm:
The flavor bible. I’ve never heard that term.

Austin Hopper:
It’s actually a book that’s out. It tells you that you can put grape with honeydew. You can put honeydew with honey suckle. It tells you what things go well together. I think that’s a great place for people to start. What I do is, I collaborate with people that are much better than me in the industry and finding out what processes I should be doing. What flavors I should use, those types of things. I can tell you that I’m collaborating with some of the largest people in the industry on these flavors. Trying to figure out what’s best. It’s tough because right now, as far as making clean flavors, making sure there’s no diacetyl and no AP and those type of things in our product. It’s a tough time in the industry to be coming out with a new flavor line.

Norm:
Right now, you’re in the process of creating three flavors for Revol. Is it even possible to get a consensus of experts that you all agree on the top three flavors? Or do you just have to say if two out of three say it’s good and one out of three doesn’t, I still have to go with my gut instinct?

Austin Hopper:
I think that I can’t be emotionally attached to any of them.

Norm:
Make a note of that guys.

Austin Hopper:
It doesn’t really matter what I think. It’s about what the end user is going to think. What they want. It was nice to be able to sit down at dinner up in New Jersey with Phil and some other people; Gabe from Legacy, Chris Menace and his group. We sat down and they said, “Phil, try this flavor.” He looked at me and said, “It’s good.” That always makes you feel good.

Norm:
The Phil he is referring to is Phil Busardo, who is obviously well-known in the YouTube circles. He’s been a reviewer, along with Grim, since 2009. We had an interview with Phil Busardo back in December if you’d like to listen to it. Let us know and well will go ahead and connect the links.
Would you say that he has a good sense of taste? He’s probably tasted multiple thousands of different flavors.

Austin Hopper:
I think that there’s no one else that I trust more than Phil Busardo.

Norm:
That is quite a testimonial.

Austin Hopper:
I think he’s amazing. I think what he does for our industry is absolutely above reproach. The one thing that I know about Phil is that Phil is going to tell you what he thinks, not what he thinks you want to hear.

Norm:
That’s important.

Austin Hopper:
Absolutely. That’s the thing is that I get good honest feedback. I worked with Keith on having him try a flavor. He said I’d up this flavoring by this. I’d take this one down by that. When I mentioned Keith, I’m talking about Diamond Vapor and Aisle 7, who’s obviously been extremely successful in the vape game. I guess Nora’s Dream just won the best cereal. He probably knows a thing or two about flavors.

What I do know is that I’m not too proud to ask for help. I have a lot of friends in the industry and in the vape community. Everybody is waiting to see what comes next from Austin Hopper. Revol is it. I have people that are asking me, I want to be the first store to carry it. Send it to me.

Norm:
That gives an amazing edge.

Austin Hopper:
Absolutely.

Norm:
When Joe Blow out there creates a flavor, he doesn’t have those connections. Which of course, you took years developing those connections. Let’s talk about Revol. What’s the story behind the name? Where did Revol come from?

Austin Hopper:
Revol is lover backwards.

Norm:
You heard it here first on Vape Radio! Is that a self-imposed name or does someone happen to call you that? He’s turning red ladies. I’m going to take a picture of this.

Austin Hopper:
One of a few times ever in my life.

Norm:
Lover backwards.

Austin Hopper:
Truthfully, my son Kenny and Kyle came up with that, I didn’t. Once again, you’re looking at things that are on the market and how do you branch out? You have all these amazing people who are already in the industry, who have all these amazing names. What’s going to stand out? What’s going to be different? The good thing is when you have Revol on your shirt, you look in the mirror it says, lover.

Norm:
You put your stuff backward, mirror image.

Austin Hopper:
What’s going to make us different? What’s going to make us stand out? Everybody has amazing juice. There are so many amazing juices out there. It’s about becoming part of the vape community. It’s not just about selling E-liquid, at least not for me. It’s about being a part of and continuing to do. Everybody is going to look and see I’ve been at all these amazing companies. What’s next?

Norm:
Right.

Austin Hopper:
When it comes out, it’s got to have wow factor. That’s what I always tell people when they come out. What’s your wow? Mine has to be a wow. If I give all this information and I work with all these other brands, because I do a lot of consulting with new companies, I always tell them three flavors. What’s your wow? I’m coming out with three flavors and a wow. Got to find my wow. There’s no difference in what I’m doing than anything that I talked about when we did the VapeU in that class. It’s three flavors. Three flavors are the key. It’s easier for a store to pick up.

You are right, I do have advantages. I laugh with the guys when I go on the sales floor because I’ll pick up a store and I probably know that store owner. Because I’ve been to so many events like you, they know me by face as well as name. When I call on the phone, they are like hey, what’s going on buddy? It’s no longer one of those, how can I help you?

Norm:
It’s a personal call.

Austin Hopper:
It’s relationships.

Norm:
I want to talk about names of lines of liquids. The names are really really important. I was actually hired by a company that had very boring names. I told them they needed to change those very boring names. They have not, but that’s another story which we don’t need to get into. I’m also working with a company that’s launching a very innovative hardware product. I really don’t like the name. I told them it needs to be edgier. It needs to be cooler. It needs to be more hip. Maybe some of those words are outdated because it’s more for my demographics and my older generation. The truth is that…I’m going to ask the question. Will a bad product name cause a good flavor to not be recognized? Will a good product name cause something that’s maybe average to really get on people’s radars?

Austin Hopper:
I believe that to be true.

Norm:
I do as well.

Austin Hopper:
Von Vape is an amazing E-liquid line out of Sarasota, Florida. Their flavor are strawberry lemonade and red licorice.

Norm:
Not very exciting names, by the way.

Austin Hopper:
No, especially for an up-scale, James Bondish-esque type brand. I said guys, when’s the last time you ever heard Sean Connery walk up to the bar and say, “Give me a Strawberry Lemonade.” They worked on redoing it. There line has absolutely taken off. Their flavors are amazing. It’s just of those things. Yes, branding has a lot to do with it. Names have a lot to do with it. People in the vape community are just like you and I, Norm. They are just like everybody else around the globe. They all want to be a part of something. They want to be a part of something that they consider hip and cool.

Norm:
Are those words still used, by the way? Are we just too old to remember.

Austin Hopper:
You have to remember, you and I are from the same generation. We’re the blind leading the blind here, buddy.

Norm:
I don’t know what the new words are to indicate the same thing as hip and cool. For those of you young kids, look it up. You’ll know. Ask your parents what hip and cool mean. Gnarly’s been gone for thirty years so I don’t know what to use now.

Austin Hopper:
Exactly. I’m sure the people will email you. Probably hit me up on Instagram and say don’t say cool anymore, Austin.

Norm:
Exactly.

Austin Hopper:
We’ll know for the next one.

Norm:
Excellent. Do your market research.

Austin Hopper:
Absolutely.

Norm:
Ask questions.

Austin Hopper:
There you go. That’s the key to anything. Staying involved and being true to the relationships that you have. The unfortunate thing is that customers aren’t reaped, they’re harvested. You have to sow that. That harvest comes every year. You can’t just go pick people out and just take them once. How do you build that relationship and keep that customer?

Norm:
Nice.

Austin Hopper:
I work with the same customers since my Space Jam days. I still do today.

Norm:
They follow you, regardless of where you go.

Austin Hopper:
I think it’s people doing business with people.

Norm:
Agreed.

Austin Hopper:
It’s about relationships. I have a bunch of them reaching out to me saying when’s it coming out? When’s it coming out? I want it. I want it. I want it. They haven’t even tried it yet. I just think that’s a huge testimonial to the places where I’ve been and the relationships I’ve cultivated along the way.

Norm:
Let me ask you. One of the things that we’re rolling out in VapeMentors, is that we are rolling out a turn-key solution for brick-and-mortar stores to develop their own line of E-liquids. You’ve seen the transition over the last several years. Initially, everyone just carried the big-named brands and then people started developing their own lines. Usually improperly, by the way. It’s not a clean room. It’s not a clean room. Make no mistake about that.

What we’ve seen is that right now about 50 to 60% of the brick-and-mortar stores now have their own lines. We want to help those stores develop their own lines. We’ve created a turn-key solution with some of the top contract manufacturers in the business. Would you say that as a brick-and-mortar store owner, it makes sense to develop your own line of E-liquids?

Austin Hopper:
I think that it really depends on your market. Like Orange County for instance, you are competing with so many other shops. It’s almost like a Starbucks here. You drive down the street and there’s a vape store on every corner. When you are in another region, Texas is a good example, because there is a lot of space and a lot of great people there. I think that it’s good to have your own brand. It gives that draw to get people into your store specific. I think that that it’s regional. I don’t know that it’s going to be necessarily a nation wide.

Once again, how do you compete for flavors? How do you compete with a Unicorn Milk? How do you compete with a Milk and Honey? Those become questions. If you have a flavor that’s unique to you, I think you’re really good with that. How do you develop that? I think that’s why, with the manufacturers that you are working with, because I know who they are obviously, they have that ability. I think is when you are trying to be in a small store, that its really hard to come up with those flavors. What you’re doing is saying this is just like Unicorn Milk but they sell Unicorn Milk.

Norm:
Got it.

Austin Hopper:
How do you compete with that? That’s why it’s important what you’re doing. You’re helping them to be successful so they don’t go and do those things.

Norm:
Improperly.

Austin Hopper:
What happens is, now they are coming out with that house-line that they are trying to do themselves. Or they’re continuing to do their same house-line, but they’re not going through manufacturing. How are they going to deal when regulations come down and those type of things. How are they going to be able to survive with that? That’s why it’s important that you do what you do. I think that you are going to eventually have to come to a point, when those flavors and those things, where you’re helping them design the labels. They have the warning on there that need to be there. People are doing it that have to keep up with it. Unfortunately, we all know that a lot of vape stores would classify as a mom-and-pop business.

Norm:
Of course.

Austin Hopper:
They don’t have a lot of employees. They don’t have a lot of time to research. They are in their store from 9am to 9pm. They go home, they eat, they go to bed, and they do it all over again.

Norm:
That’s right. That’s the world of being a vapeneur.

Austin Hopper:
Did you coin that phrase?

Norm:
I did coin that phrase.

Austin Hopper:
Did you figure that out? I like that.

Norm:
That’s the name of our book, you know?

Austin Hopper:
Is it?

Norm:
Yes, we have a book called “Vapreneur”. I’m going to do my shameless plug because “Vapreneur” is going to be redone. By the time you hear this, the new edition will be out. It’s basically profiling other guys like Austin. All these amazing stories of the people who have overcome whatever they overcome to become significant in the Vape Space. Yes, I did coin vapreneur, thank you very much.

Austin Hopper:
You’ll see my story at the back of the book. Everybody else will be much more important. I think that people need leadership. This industry is one when you have vape stores, they’re such amazing people. When you look and you hear all the stories about where people have come from or what they’ve done. There’s a lot of people out there that have left really significant careers to go into the Vape Space. I think it’s very important that those people are looking for people that have experience. Like I said at the beginning of the program, is that I surround myself with people who are smarter than me.

Norm:
As do I.

Austin Hopper:
With that being the case is that I always know, I am the dumbest opinion in the room. That’s okay. I’m good with that. I can work with people who are smarter than me because I’m not too proud to go up and say what do you think? I’m not afraid to ask. If somebody says let’s do this and I don’t understand why I’ll say tell me why.

Norm:
Nice.

Austin Hopper:
Just tell me why. That’s all I need to know. Just tell me why.

Norm:
One of your unique skills, along with a lot of other skills, lover, is that you are emceeing several large events. By the time you hear this particular spot, ECC may be over because it’s coming up. Is it the 17th, 18th and 19th of August?

Austin Hopper:
It’s actually the 13th through the 16th.

Norm:
Okay, so it’s August 13th-16th. If you are hearing this before and if you can get to, or are in Southern California, ECC is pretty much the major player.

Austin Hopper:
It is the Super Bowl.

Norm:
It is the Super Bowl, exactly. Yours truly, speaking of Austin, you are going to be the emcee. What does that mean exactly at ECC because that’s a little bit of a chaotic circus on it’s own right.

Austin Hopper:
First of all, it’s an honor.

Norm:
It absolutely is.

Austin Hopper:
The first emcee of ECC.

Norm:
I’m going to interject. They could not have picked a more justified person. Between the personality and the experience to do what needs to be done. Now carry one. I’m going to give you that props, brother.

Austin Hopper:
Thanks for that. I appreciate that. They say everyone there is an amazing group of people. I think that last year at ECC, we had a lot of loud music here and a lot of loud music there. I know they put in a lot of changes for that.

Norm:
Less loud music here, less loud music there, this year?

Austin Hopper:
Yes.

Norm:
Good, because it was a little bit overwhelming.

Austin Hopper:
That’s one of the things. That’s why they asked me about emceeing the event so we could keep those things. We could get people scheduled for giveaways and things like that from the main stage.

Norm:
Perfect.

Austin Hopper:
That’s important so everybody’s not trying to fight for that same space. I think we are going to see a lot more organization from that stand point. I think that they put on the most amazing events. I do a lot of events. I have to tell you ECC, Steve Mack and his crew, absolutely hands down, they’re second to none.

Norm:
This is going to be the world launch of Revol, is that correct?

Austin Hopper:
That is correct.

Norm:
That is correct. Are you having some major rap star there or are you\it? Any celebs? You’re well-connected. You know everybody.

Austin Hopper:
I think the biggest celebrity that will be there will be in a little black bottle called Revol.

Norm:
Revol. Three flavors are obviously what you’ve come up with.

Austin Hopper:
We may only release one of them at ECC.

Norm:
You tricky devil, you.

Austin Hopper:
Here’s the thing. We have Vape Blast coming up right after that. I emcee Vape Blast as well.

Norm:
That’s coming up when?

Austin Hopper:
That’s the end of August.

Norm:
End of August. Make a note guys.

Austin Hopper:
We may do a Revol tour where we release one flavor at ECC, one at Vape Blast, and one at the next up-coming event. I just think that it’s very important, once again, hype sells.

Norm:
Since we talked about names, do you have names of your flavors?

Austin Hopper:
I do but I can’t release them.

Norm:
Come on! I want an exclusive for Vape Radio.

Austin Hopper:
I would love to but I’m waiting on the trademark to come back.

Norm:
You are waiting on that.

Austin Hopper:
Yes.

Norm:
I’m sure its some amazing word spelled backwards.

Austin Hopper:
Once again, its very tough to find things people haven’t already used in the industry.

Norm:
As a marketing guy, if I take a name like Revol, and now I know the history and now all of you listening know the history, I can come up with some really amazing flavor names. Again, it’s all about continuity of your messaging.

Austin Hopper:
You probably can guess it off the top of your head. Remember, the things we think of are not what…

Norm:
Of course, you can’t have any x-rated flavors because now they are going to accuse you of pandering to the dirty old people out there.

Austin Hopper:
No question about that. I get accused of that already.
Norm:
Okay so between now and the end of 2015, you will be involved with ECC and…

Austin Hopper:
Vape Blast, VPX, ECC New Orleans. We are going to ECC in Oklahoma with Kevin Stippers. Kevin Stipper does an amazing job, him and his crew at ECC. Absolutely amazing. Also doing the American Vape convention.

Norm:
That’s correct. In Irvine, Texas.
Austin Hopper:
Irving, Texas.

Norm:
Irving, Texas.
Austin Hopper:
They call it different than we do.

Norm:
Irving, Texas.

Austin Hopper:
Yes, with Gabe and his crew. I’m just excited. The overwhelming acceptance that I get is just amazing.

Norm:
Nice.

Austin Hopper:
I can’t wait to see what’s new at all the events. While this is on radio, there’s this new mod that I’m holding in my hand.

Norm:
Very pretty, by the way.

Austin Hopper:
It is. It’s amazing, actually. A great magnetic that’s called “the Reaper Mod.”

Norm:
Reaper.

Austin Hopper:
“The Reaper Mod” and it will also be debuted as ECC.

Norm:
How were you involved with this?

Austin Hopper:
They actually asked me if I would use it over the next couple of weeks and see what I thought.

Norm:
And you like it?

Austin Hopper:
It’s amazing.

Norm:
Wow, that’s a strong testimonial.

Austin Hopper:
This is 350. Fits in your hand. It’s light. Just an amazing amazing piece. I’m extremely honored. The buttons that are in this are just absolutely amazing.

Norm:
Fine detail. Fine workmanship.

Austin Hopper:
You can just tell this was not something they just stamped out.

Norm:
What’s the price point of this?
Austin Hopper:
I don’t know.

Norm:
Okay.
Austin Hopper:
I don’t know the answer to that yet.

Norm:
Is it on the market?
Austin Hopper:
No.

Norm:
It’s not.

Austin Hopper:
This is a beta piece. What I will tell you is that I’m honored to have it. It even has the name of the mod engraved in it. What I will tell you is that it’s absolutely amazing. There going to sell out of these at ECC.

Norm:
They are going tobe unveiled as well?
Austin Hopper:
Yes.

Norm:
Awesome. I hate to give out anything in the way of phone numbers or emails for you because you don’t have time to take those on. The Revol website is it, what?

Austin Hopper:
Revolvapors.com
Revolvapors.com

Austin Hopper:
Lover backwards dot com.

Norm:
Lover backwards. The website is up and active right now?

Austin Hopper:
I think it’s a landing page. I don’t think it is. We are Revol Vapors on Instagram. Revol Vapors on Facebook.

Norm:
That’s awesome.

Austin Hopper:
Austin@revolvapors.com

Norm:
Austin@revolvapors.com. Send him an email. Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Vape Radio, the voice of vaping. Here with Austin Hopper of Revol Vapors. I don’t know about you, but I got a lot of take-aways here from this. Plus, I just plain had fun. Hopefully, you did too.

Austin, on a personal level, we’ve known each other for a lot longer than either one of us has been in the industry. I love your journey.
Austin Hopper:
We’ve known each other a lot longer than most of our consumers are alive.

Norm:
Wow! You’re going to go there, are you? Austin’s actually going to be a part of a series I’m going to be doing. I love his story. It’s a lot longer than Vape Radio is allowed to participate in. I’m going to be actually incorporating him into a book, “Master Vapes”, which will be available later in 2015. I think I’m just going to be profiling him and his journey and also the journey of Revol over the next several month. The next several years, because I’m really curious to see whether one man can create a dynasty. I know that it can be done. I know it has been done. I think in this case, it will be done again.

Austin Hopper:
Thank you, Norm. From your mouth to God’s ear, buddy.

Norm:
Right on, brother. Ladies and gentlemen.
I have to tell you all candidly, that was probably the most fun I had in an interview. We got into some areas that I was not expecting and we just had fun. Austin and I, as we talked about, we’ve known each other for probably six years now. I’m absolutely pleased at his journey. I’m really curious to see where he’s going. We are going to go ahead and follow him. Hopefully, he will be part of our VapeU continuing series which is, of course, the six pillars of Vape Space success.

Ladies and gentlemen, you’ve been listening to Vape Radio. This is episode number 60. One thing I’m going to promise you, we are not going to be quite so absent from your radio or absent from your podcast. We are going to be more consistent in our production. Hopefully, you will be back again and help us make August the best month ever. We’re looking for 60,000 plus downloads. Until then, this is Norm Bour for Vape Radio.

Paul:
You’ve been listening to Vape Radio. Your source for everything you want to know about the business of vaping. Brought to you by VapeMentors.

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.