Puffco chief executive officer Roger Volodarsky on the importance of R&D, appealing to critical connoisseurs, Chinese knockoffs, and the revolutionary new coiless vaporizer Puffco Plus.
Somewhere in an office in Brooklyn, New York, the dozen or so employees at Puffco are trying to find a better way to deliver the finest oils in the form of a vape pen. This ethos comes from the top. Puffco Chief Executive Officer Roger Volodarsky, 33, is all-in on innovation. “It’s why we get out of bed,” he said.
Since launching in 2013, Puffco has seen sales triple. The secret: investing profits in research and development. The original Puffco Pro, rated Best Vaporizer Pen of 2015 by High Times, was dubbed the “next generation in portable vaporizing.” It offered the unique ability to adjust the temperature at which users vaporize concentrates. The kit included a temperature-controlled battery, full atomizer set, carrying case, and charger. Once the Puffco Pro was turned on, users adjusted temperature by simply clicking the battery button four times to change between low, medium, and high temperature modes. Men’s Journal noted:
“Design aficionados will appreciate the Puffco Pro wax pen, which comes in a cool little hardshell case that fits in your jeans pocket or inside jacket pocket without compromising the silhouette of your suit. Unlike most vaporizers, this device is for wax concentrate, which is not always easy to come by. The dark gray metal pen has a wickless ceramic heating chamber and contains zero plastic or adhesives. Three temperature settings are controlled with one button, making it easy to use. With one of the longest battery lives of the models tested and a chamber that holds a generous amount of wax, this is the vaporizer that keeps going and going.”
The new Puff Plus, replete with a ceramic “dart,” has conquered heating from outside the chamber. The dart serves two main functions. “When the dart is loaded inside the chamber, it helps keep the oil pressed against the ceramic,” said Volodarsky. “But also it provides direction for the air going through the chamber.”
Here’s how it works: Hot air swirls over the oil, with the air path winding across the exterior of the ceramic bowl through four small holes about halfway up the cylindrical chamber wall. The ceramic dart sends heat back down toward the oil. This convection heat combines with the thermal conduction heat from the ceramic chamber, quickly and tastefully converting concentrates into CBD-heavy vapor.
Volodarsky is always looking to the future. “How are these going to function for the next ten years?” asks Volodarsky. “These devices are going to have to get smarter if they want to speak to the average user.”
Right now, the $99 Puffco Plus is the future.
When you launched Puffco in 2013, your mission was to marry essential oils and essential tools. Seems like you’ve done that. What’s your secret?
We are a company of connoisseurs who are never satisfied. We are always looking to push the limit of what the portable experience can be.
How does the Puffco Plus differ from the competition?
From top to bottom, the Puffco Plus’s feature set distinguishes itself in many ways. One is the dart, a loading tool and oil trap that lives in the mouth piece. Two is the ceramic heating chamber: We’ve removed the coil, which makes the Plus the only vape pen to have no exposed metals. And three is the sesh mode: twelve seconds of continuous, uninterrupted vapor.
Who do you see as the Puffco consumer?
Anyone who is looking for a portable solution for their essential oil. We aimed to satisfy the most critical connoisseur while keeping the everyday user in mind.
How have sales been?
In year one, Puffco lost money. In year two, we grew to $200,000. In year, three we earned $3 million. Heading into 2017, our projections are looking to triple that.
What is the state of the vape industry right now?
The landscape today is that nearly all vaporizer companies are rebranding Chinese catalog products. There are very few leaders and innovators in the space. We are proud to be one of the few.
How do you see the industry changing in the near future? Are you bullish or bearish?
As the average consumer becomes more educated, they will inevitably seek out products that offer solutions to their consumption needs.
If you had to pick three reasons for Puffco’s success, what would they be?
First, timing: We were the first to offer a vape pen with a temp-controlled battery and a large-capacity chamber using no glues. Second, brand message: Our company was built on Instagram and customer service. From this direct line of communication, we’ve built the foundation of trust in our company. Third, never stopping: There is no such thing as failure. Puffco’s success comes from pivoting over obstacles.
How many employees do you have?
Do you offer benefits?
How important is innovation as ethos at Puffco?
It is the motivating factor to get out of bed. Every day, we take a step closer to creating products that solve consumption problems.
What’s the best business advice you’ve ever received?
Never take advice from someone you wouldn’t switch places with.
How do you stay ahead of the competition?
By reinvesting capital into R&D over marketing and lifestyle.
What keeps you up at night?
Managing every aspect of the supply chain is the cause of most sleepless nights. Buying a catalog product is easy, while managing a product is the hard challenge.
For more information: Puffco.com.
Let customers know Puffco vapes…
* Are compact in size.
* Produce superior airflow.
* Exhibit elegant design and solid, all-metal construction.
* Are easy to use.
* Come with a durable, attractive carrying case.
* Employ a ceramic chamber with titanium coil.
* Need no wick.
* Produce good-tasting vapor.
* Are affordably priced.
* Contain no coils or glues.