Vendor Spotlight Vol 63: Prohibited

06
Dec

THE BOUNDARY PUSHERS

VMR, the company behind the V2 vaporizer, gets into the dry herb and concentrates market with its new brand, Prohibited. This is the story of the company’s thirst to innovate and push the limits of vape technology.

When you thirst for innovation, when you desire something new and different and better, sometimes you have to slow down, throw everybody a curve ball and start fresh.

And not too long ago, that’s what VMR — one of the most successful and innovative e-cigarette companies of the last decade — decided to do. Its popular V2 vaporizer has been chugging along for years now, but the VMR braintrust decided it could be doing more and it could be serving more people.

There was innovating to do, new products to create and they jumped right in.

Apple didn’t stop when the iPhone was a hit, right? Nope, it gave us iPads and Apple Watches.

Well, at VMR, they’d been thinking for a while about making a new style vaporizer that was more aimed at dry herb and concentrate users. Finally, they decided it was time.

And that’s when Prohibited was born.

If V2 is aimed at the nicotine-replacement crowd — the people who want their e-juice — then Prohibited is aimed at their younger, hipper, edgier siblings. It takes the best parts of the V2 and spruces them for a different experience, with new technology, a new approach and a new mission.

Prohibited’s first offering, The 5th Degree, is powerful however you want to use it — for wax or concentrates or as a dabber or e-rig. It’s mission is to excel in any setting and outpace the others in the market.

“It’s an evolution,” says Karl-Heinz Riedel IV, VMR’s executive vice president of marketing. “This first offering is the tip of the iceberg. Simply, it’s something we would never do on the V2 line. We have a lot more of a wide open playing field. It’s an entirely new approach.

That, after all, is what innovation is all about, rights?

 

THE BEGINNING

All of this started in 2009, with three people working in a two-bedroom condo, with a team that thought electronic cigarettes were the future. And boy were they right.

Their company, VMR, eventually expanded into a multi-national giant with hundreds of employees spread at various locations around the world. There’s a main headquarters in Miami with about 150 staff members, another office in Prague and an office and factory in China that has more 400 to 1,300 workers depending on the day.

“We’ve always been more of a technology company than anything else,” Riedel says. “Innovation is really what’s driven VMR from the outset.”

To that point, the company holds over 40 patents and develops 8 to 10 new patents each year. They’re constantly working, thinking and developing. Co-founders Jan Verleur and Dan Recio guide the company’s mission of innovation and connecting with customers.

The V2 has been their flagship brand, with various lines and incarnations serving hundreds of thousands of customers over the years. Many other companies might rest on that success, but not VMR. It has constantly thought about what else it could be doing and what its next move was.

Much of that can attributed to Verleur, VMR’s CEO.

“He’s always had a vision of being very forward-facing,” Riedel says. “Whenever I think I know where we are as a company, he’s 10 steps ahead in the chess game.”

And that’s how Prohibited eventually came to be.

 

WELCOME TO THE FAMILY


You know those ideas that kick around your brain? The ones you keep coming back to because you know they’re good and worthwhile and worth your time. That’s what Prohibited was.

“It’s been in talks and discussions for year,” Riedel says.

There was no putting it off any longer — VMR was getting into the dry herb realm. From the beginning, the goal was the same as it’s always been, to innovate and to give customers a fantastic experience.

Prohibited did a soft launch in September with the 5th Degree, a multi-functioning vaporizer made of titanium of quartz crystal that is made to be the most diverse device of its type on the market. The 4th Degree, a slimmer unit, is coming next year. Also available right now are dry herb cartridges and concentrate cartridges. There’s an e-rig cartridge coming in January too.

If you’re familiar with the V2, the 5th Degree might look similar visually, but when it comes to technology and functionality, it’s a different beast.

“Under the hood the device has been overhauled,” Riedel says. “There’s a lot of new tech that’s coming just for Prohibited.

“What we’re really trying to do is give people a whole new array of technology,” Riedel says. “We’re trying to come up with things that aren’t out there, kind of tapping into this industry in a different realm.”

The 5th Degree is the only device of its type that can handle dry herbs, concentrates plus function as an e-rig and dabber.

“It’s dry herbs and concentrates, a whole variety of ways with one unit,’” Riedel says. “We call it the Swiss Army Knife of cannabis vapes. It’s designed not just to do these functions, but to do them well. A lot of thought went into this.”

The 5th Degree hit the market in a big way through VMR’s partnership with GLOW Industries and retailers like Wild Bill’s Tobacco, which has 85 shops around the country. It’s been a strong start, but VMR is looking to take things to new heights in 2018 and push out even more innovative products under the Prohibited banner after that.

In a way, launching a new brand makes the VMR braintrust feel like they’re back in that two-bedroom condo again.

“It’s definitely invigorated the R&D team,” Riedel says. “It’s been exciting, it’s been fun. We just want to keep building a better device and keep giving the consumers a better experience. We’re trying to stay at the cutting edge of that.”

 


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