mg catches up with Josh Ryan, west coast sales manager for the award-winning W Vapes, to talk sales, accolades, oil quality, and what he’s learned from working at a start-up.
What did you do before joining W Vapes?
I owned a creative agency with my wife. Before that, years of sales in various luxury environments.
What are your day-to-day duties?
My primary responsibility is to build and manage the sales department. However, I often find myself wearing multiple hats. Lately, I have been spending much of my time hiring and managing sales staff, working outside events, helping with marketing efforts, and establishing the various sales policies. I also try to find as much time as possible to get out into the community and personally connect with our clientele, as I truly find this to be the most rewarding part of my job.
What goals did the founders have for the company?
The idea was to have not only a superior line of products with a premium look and feel, but also the best quality oils that appeal to a broad patient base. Two of our original founders had years of experience in patient care with a company called Relm. Their industry knowledge and passion is what truly inspired the creation of W Vapes. Combine that with our owners’ vast history with building successful brands, and W Vapes was always destined to be a true powerhouse in the vape space.
How have sales been since W Vapes’s launch in December 2015?
Great! We have been extremely active with events and other marketing efforts to get people talking about us. We now have three awards under our belt and a buzz that is quickly growing. We are very excited about the massive growth we’re already experiencing and ready for a huge 2016.
Where does the company distribute, primarily?
Primarily, dispensaries and delivery services in California. We are based in [Los Angeles], so naturally we have a greater concentration of accounts near us. We are working diligently to increase our footprint in Northern California as well as the outer reaches of Southern California. At the moment we are in many dispensaries, but are seeing a huge increase in delivery services.
Where do you see the marketplace going in the next few years?
I can’t think of another industry that will experience larger growth in the next few years.
What sets W Vapes apart?
Given my family’s strong personal connection to cannabis, it was extremely important for me to be a part of a company that I believe to be the best in the space. First off, I feel that we have the best-looking product, hands down. While most other companies are using plastic components, our cartridges are made of glass and stainless steel, which not only gives it a very sleek, premium look, but also ensures you’re not inhaling any plastic. Our disposables are becoming very popular because not only do they look extremely high-end, but they are also very discreet for those who like to vape while traveling. Secondly, the quality of our oils is extremely high. We use organic supercritical CO2-extracted oils made with a proprietary terpene-separation process. While many CO2 devices add flavored terpene juice, we re-introduce all the original plant terpenes back into the oil. The process enhances the healing properties and results in a much more authentic taste. Finally, we are part of a community. We are building relationships with charitable organizations such CannaKids and have already been a sponsor for their first annual Monies for Funnies event.
What have been the three biggest challenges of launching a vape brand?
The fact that we are constantly navigating through new and very unforgiving territory with new laws being passed daily is hard to balance. It literally feels like the Wild West at the moment, with far too much grey area. This obviously can be stressful while growing a cannabis business. Little things such as not being able to legally mail samples to a new customer and having to deal with only cash are barriers that just don’t exist in other industries that are legal nationwide. Finally, I would say the growing pains that come with any company facing such massive expansion would be another challenge—albeit one that many new companies would love to experience.
What is your marketing strategy?
For a company to be truly successful with its marketing efforts, it’s crucial to market in a number of different ways. Luckily, our owner has a strong background in marketing for large companies. For us, we have ads of significant size running in multiple trade magazines, some online banner ads, and we do as many trade shows and networking events as possible. Obviously, social media is a must today. We always try to keep a couple things in mind: One, that people get used to seeing and hearing about W Vapes as much as possible, and two, that our brand is always represented in the most professional way possible.
Where do you see W Vapes in a year? Five years?
I see us being one of the biggest players in the industry. We should have a very dominant presence throughout California, and the name W Vapes will be most frequently mentioned when talking about a premium vape brand. We also plan to add a range of premium CBD products, which should further solidify us as a major player in the medicinal space. In five years, I believe we can easily be the number one vape company in the market. At this point we will have achieved an extremely high level of success in California, which will have led to expansion into other legal states for a national presence.