Q: Can you tell me a little about how your company started and how it has grown over the years?
A: We developed the product at the bar called Red Kiva in the west loop in Chicago. My partner Julie Palmer was the GM and I was the bar manager. Julie got the idea for the Vaportini, and the first incarnation was made with a lead base that Julie heated in an oven. Obviously for mass production this was not easy to replicate. On top of being extremely heavy it also could burn people if it was overheated. Julie tried to make other versions that were battery operated but we found that it would be too expensive, production wise. We got really lucky that a tea light candle actually worked for the temperature needed with a pint glass. That was pure luck.
Our first focus was to sell to bars, and most bars in the US have their own pint glasses so that is why the basic kit went into production first. We had 200 made, which was basically every dollar we could scrape together between the two of us. We had a launch party for which we hand delivered flyers around, and around fifty people came. Luckily, one was a writer for Timeout Chicago, a small publication. He came back for a individual interview on another night. The article he wrote got picked up by the AP on January 13, 2013. Then Jimmy Kimmel, Bob and Tom, and Chelsea Lately, all mentioned it on their shows. We had around 3,000 orders the next week. At this point we retooled our manufacturing as the US manufacturers we had used for the samples were not set up to do this on a large scale. We had to switch to overseas, which took us about four months to do. We relaunched at this point and the had free media for the first two years. Some was positive and some was negative, but it all drove sales. 2016 will be the first year we do a large marketing campaign of our own.
Q: What do you like to put in a Vaportini?
A: My favorite things in a Vaportini are a high-end bourbon or gin. With both of these things, the Vaportini brings out the best flavors and aspects of the liquor. It is a great taste testing device for when you buy a high-end bottle and really want to savor the flavors. Then I drink some also, and try to pick out the notes of the spirit.
Q: Compare drinking a shot of bourbon and putting that shot in a Vaportini in terms of how long it takes to imbibe, how long to feel the effects of the alcohol and how long those effects last.
A: As far as the effects, it is completely different. It takes around 20 minutes of constant use to inhale 1 full ounce of alcohol using a Vaportini or around 40 inhales for the average person. It takes around 35 inhales for the average person to reach a .8 BAC. The alcohol starts going out of your system in around 15 minutes so the alcohol then starts going out of your system as quickly as it comes in, so that the highest BAC you can reach is around a .1. So you can never get "drunk" with a Vaportini but there is an effect. I use my Vaportini for more as a compliment to drinking and not a replacement for it. You may also refer to this link for the medical research that we had performed. http://www.vaportini.com/uploads/2/7/8/3/27837153/14-8954_final_report_041714.pdf
A: Most of our sales have been to individuals for home use. We use bars as a promotional tool. We are trying to cultivate a high end image so those are the bars that we try to get into. We sell to the bars at a heavily discounted price, but it doesn't fit into a lot of places. As a former bar manager I know that a lot of places do not want new glassware as it is just one more thing to maintain. The Vaportini works well in higher end lounges, but it is hard to serve Vaportini's in dance clubs, sports bars, or anywhere that gets wall to wall busy.
|Purchase in my Kickfurther Store|
Q: How did you first hear about Kickfurther and why did you decide to use it?
A: I believe they contacted us, and the first time we decided to use it was simply to reach the people on the site. We did a $1000 raise but it was not necessary for us at the time. We used it as more of a promotional tool.
Q: From a merchant's point of view, what are the advantages and disadvantages of Kickfurther financing vs conventional financing?
A: The advantage is the quickness of the system. We needed this last raise in a hurry to get the product we needed to maximize sales. A bank or even an online lender would not be quick enough for us to get our product in time and that was the benefit for us. It was the only option we had to get our down payment for this shipment on time.
Q: Would you recommend Kickfurther to other businesses? Why or why not?
A: Yes, if it fits your circumstances as it did with ours. More traditional methods can have much lower return rates, but if you do not have the time or cannot get the financing that you need, it is a great option. That have a very professional team that works with you also, and I was very impressed.
Q: Have you tried Kickfuther as an investor? Why or why not? Would your recommend that friends invest via Kickfurther?
A: I have not, but I use all of my working capital for Vaportini. I would in the future as my business grows and if I have more personal money to play around with.
Q: Anything else you'd like to tell us?
A: Just for all the entrepreneurs out there, to always focus on the future and the positives. There will always be ups and downs when starting business and just focus on the best decisions you can make and learn from the bad decisions but don't dwell on them. We made of a lot of mistakes the first year in business when we were learning, and we don't make the same mistakes at this point, and things are humming along.
I'd like to thank Jack for visiting with us today. For those who do not read this blog regularly, start! I write regularly about Kickfurther, a website on which ordinary investors can crowd-fund inventory purchases for businesses, like Vaportini. Kickfurther investors purchased a certain number of those units Vaportini ordered, and then returned them to Vaportini for Jack and his company to sell on consignment. When the units sell, Vaportini pays us back. For their trial run, they raised $1038.90 and repaid investors in less than a month. The reason they paid back so quickly is that Kickfurther does not allow companies to finance another order until the first order has been paid. Those who were in on the first investment did well--they received a profit of 5% of their investment, and that is not 5% per annum.
Since I invested in Vaportini's second raise, I hope they are selling a whole lot of those units. Another advantage to businesses of Kickfurther financing over conventional loans is that no payments are due while the inventory is being produced. Kickfurther investors (like me) get paid when inventory sells. Hopefully, by the end of the month, I will have my 9% profit in my account.
If Kickfurther sounds like a good investment to you (and please check out my other posts and other information about Kickfurther before making that decision), you can click here and get a $5.00 credit on your initial investment. (unless Kickfurther has changed that, and I have no control over them). If you are an entrepreneur and need money for tangible inventory, click on this link, and if you use Kickfurther, I get a referral fee. You can buy a Vaportini in my Kickfurther Store and I get a commission, or you can go to Vaportini's website.