SAN FRANCISCO — Earlier this summer, PAX Labs raised $46.7 million in public funding between April and June of 2015 to help it expand overseas and fund development of additional vaporization products in new categories.
According to the vapor company’s co-founder and CEO James Monsees, however, that doesn’t mean the kind of strategic partnerships that frequently occur within the burgeoning vape space are out of the question.
“It would just be a decision on a product-line-by-product-line basis,” he said.
In an exclusive interview, Monsees provided insights on the issues facing independent e-vapor players today and keys to succeeding in the future.
Q: How can independent companies like PAX compete with the increasing dollars Big Tobacco companies are spending on e-vapor?
A: If Big Tobacco is investing in technology, it further evolves the landscape of the category. We can concentrate more on innovation and technology than we believe big tobacco companies are structured to do. That plays right into our core advantages as a technology company.
Q: What is your opinion of the proposed deeming regulations?
A: The [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] deeming regulations are, in general, a really positive step. Quality control standards in the industry, in particular, we support as long as those regulations are applied fairly and evenly across the board. It seems there’s even some more pragmatism in the application of the deeming regulations, the smart thinking of Mitch Zeller. We’re supportive of what we think can be a much more mature, controlled industry in the future.
Q: What would you consider to be PAX’s greatest strengths in this very competitive marketplace?
A: It’s definitely our goal to keep the PAX team in place. What we’ve built here is by far the most well-informed team in vaporization technology. We have some valuable assets in PAX and JUUL, but this is not a short-term game. Innovation is an ever-evolving thing. You need a whip-smart team with a lot of education and research to continue that trajectory.
Q: Looking towards 2016 and beyond, what will it take to succeed in e-vapor?
A: We’re focused on being able to independently enact our vision for how vaporization technology gets applied really broadly. We have a couple core product lines right now, and there will be additional product lines in the future in other mature industries: industries that have stagnated in terms of innovation, where vaporization technology can propel that [industry] into the future.
We need to be the most educated company, the most diligent, the most well-researched company in vaporization more broadly—not just for the tobacco industry. A lot of insights really come from the application of vaporization technology to other spaces as well. That’s where we can really benefit and stay ahead of the curve.