Ebitt chats to the founders of Vape Emporium about the future of the vaping industry
We're delighted to announce our latest client, Vape Emporium. Predicting the huge future market of vaping, Andy Logan and Amar El-Zayat founded the multichannel business in 2013, selling everything from vaping devices to e-liquids.The London based business with an online store and boutiques in Hampstead and Richmond, encourages customers to quit smoking and instead enjoy the benefits of vaping. For those unsure where to start, the shopping experience is anything but intimidating, with customers welcomed in to quirky stores to enjoy a consultation with a vape expert. Their premium and health-first offer is unique and exciting, making Vape Emporium one of the fastest growing start-ups on the high street. Vape Emporium have appointed Ebitt to develop a retail strategy which will see them open ten or more new stores in the next three years and establish Vape Emporium as the dominant market player in London and the South East. Ebitt met Andy and Amar to discuss Vape Emporium, the vaping industry and working with Ebitt.
You are the very latest start-up to join the Ebitt family. What attracted you to work with Ebitt?
Initially, their level of expertise within the retail sector. Then, the wraparound services as well as the supporting structure and network they have. They have since proved to be a perfect fit for us, the whole team there is fantastic, motivated and they have a wealth of experience and support, to get us to where we want to be. In the next three years, we want to open ten or more stores in London and the South East. We want Vape Emporium to have a new market-leading e-commerce website, deliver the same unique and customer-centric led service the customers enjoy in our stores and develop an even larger following of happy, healthier, smoke-free vapers!
Can you tell us more about Vape Emporium?
Amar and I have known each other for about 18 years, having met at University. We had coincidently, and unbeknown to one another, both been yearning to leave corporate life, but were waiting for the right opportunity. I popped over to his house for a catch-up, and after seeing the products had the ‘lightbulb’ moment I’d been waiting for. Having both given up smoking overnight as a result of these products, we saw huge potential in vaping and decided to launch our own company selling these amazing products to other people. We now have two stores in Hampstead and Richmond, and are looking for our third central London location, as well as plans for rapid growth over the next three years. In addition to the high street stores we have an e-commerce website, a wholesale arm which distributes across the UK & Europe and a gourmet e-liquid range. We have also collaborated with a master-craftsman from East Anglia to develop a line of beautiful hand-made vape-pipes, which he carves from rare, but sustainable, woods. Even though we’re 3.5 years into the business we’ve strengthened the core values we set out in the beginning - to source and provide the best products from around and the best-in-class customer service available on the high street.
How did you come up with the idea for a premium vaping label?
When we started there was a very small market in the UK. Some high street stores in the North of England, but none in London or the South of England and a confused sprinkling of online stores, selling cheap and unreliable products. We could clearly see a need for a vape company to step-up and do things a bit differently - taking the stress, confusion, defective products and lack of reliable information issues away from the customers and provide them all the information, guidance, support and great products that they needed to be able to enjoy and realise the joys of vaping, that we’d had.
You have appeared in the Start-Ups Top 100 twice now. What are you doing to break new ground?
At Vape Emporium we sell a lifestyle choice and have focused on providing our customers the very best experience we can. This, coupled with developing a ‘cool’ brand and our stores having soul, character and a relaxed friendly, inclusive vibe has led to them coming back and bringing friends, colleagues or family to share the experience they have had - this has been fantastic to witness and has driven the rapid growth we’ve so lucky and thankful to have seen. We have also embraced new tech throughout the business, when needed, and always developed strong partnerships and relationships with our suppliers, to ensure both parties get the best out of the partnership. I think my six years of working at Vodafone and 3.5 years working for Dragons Den’s Peter Jones had a huge part to play in fuelling these values and bringing this mindset and experience.
Are there any specific challenges to growing a business in the vaping industry?
It has been littered with challenges, as it is such a new industry and we have been trying to lead the way, by example, with the ideas and standards we have been putting into place. The Tobacco Product Directive (TPD) compliance, is a recent challenge that all reputable vape companies are facing at the moment. It lays down the regulations that we need to comply with, set by the EU. As you can imagine, there is a lot of red tape, testing and hoops to jump through. This has been a challenge for a small business to tackle, but thankfully we’ve worked closely with our contacts and suppliers to be one of the few fully compliant TPD companies, come implementation. The positive is that many ‘cowboy’ vape companies will be weeded out, who haven’t met all the criteria for the TPD. This will provide better and regulated vaping products in the UK for our customers, which will give them the reassurance they need. With all the positive studies and articles on vaping we are still plagued with a huge amount of headline-grabbing misinformation in the media, but lean on independent and government body experts to speak the truth and we often re-educate our customers and furnish them with the facts to dispel the myths they have sometimes heard or read.
What advice do you have for start-ups who are looking to accelerate their businesses?
I think surrounding yourself in experienced, high-calibre partners (as well as staff) that dovetail into your business’ ethos. What’s extremely important is that both sets of people are ‘on-board’ and enthusiastic about their work with you and your business, including the direction it is going in. It’s also very important to embrace the right tech to help streamline processes, operations and customer experience. When you have these foundations in place and a clear vision of your principles and goals you will almost organically achieve them. By knowing your craft and customer’s requirements, inside and out, to deliver the right proposition for their needs, as well as developing strong open relationships with your suppliers to work through any challenges that crop up. Try to offer a unique angle to your business to differentiate yourself from the rest. Lastly, keep a keen eye on your cash flow as this will avoid a majority of the problems you will face. Vape Emporium are one of Ebitt’s latest clients. To find out more about Vape, visit their Blog, Instagram or Twitter.