TorontoVaporizer is Canada’s largest online retailer of vaporizers and vaporizer accessories, now a multi-million dollar operation, founded in 2009 by Nima Noori. TorontoVaporizer has managed to become one of the world’s most comprehensive vaporizer specific resource centers due to their wealth of objective product reviews and vaporizer related information found on their Blog, YouTube channel and website.
BusinessInterviews.com: What are some ways that you differentiate yourself from both traditional smoke shops and other online vaporizer stores?
Nima: Primarily, one of the ways we set ourselves apart from other smoke shops and online vaporizer retailers is through our home label, ZEUSArsenal, which has gained huge popularity in Canada over the past few years. ZEUSArsneal is a premium vaporizer accessory line that I founded, soon after the inception of TorontoVaporizer, as a way to provide extreme value to our customers. True connoisseurs know that for a great vaporization experience you will need to grind your botanical to a certain consistency for even vaporization and in turn, better vapor quality. However, grinders are often quite expensive and for those who are spending upwards of $200 on a vaporizer, they may not have the funds to buy that extra necessary accessory to actually complete their vaporization experience. So I started the initiative to provide all vaporizer orders with the most popular item in the ZEUSArsenal line, the ZEUS Bolt grinder, as a free gift (that retails separately for $50). By providing an extremely high quality grinder at no cost to every customer who purchases a vaporizer with us, it allows connoisseurs to have a taste of the quality and functionality of the ZEUS brand, whilst adding extreme value to their order and whole vaporization experience. The strength of our home brand is that people literally get to start off with a great product for free and then start the collection process with all the other ZEUS products that each fulfill a unique purpose.
Above and beyond being the only vaporizer retailer with a private label brand that adds such value to the end customer, we’ve also set ourselves apart by being extremely professional and catering towards customers who may not identify with the ‘smoker stereotype’. Local smoke shops and most other online vaporizer retailers exude an atmosphere that many new-age connoisseurs simply do not feel comfortable buying from. I wanted to retail vaporizers in the same way that any new-to-market gadget should be – in a professional environment where product knowledge and customer service are of the utmost importance. One way we’ve done this is by retailing only the best vaporizers in each price category, those we have thoroughly tested and deem to provide the best value to our customers. In addition, we make sure to provide extensive product information on each product page through unit specs and metrics, making sure our customers are fully supported before, during and after their purchase through our blog and YouTube channel which are chalked full of vaporizer tips and tricks, reviews, and tutorials. Not to mention, we’ve fostered a business model, completely unique to us in our industry, that combines the ease and discretion of the eCommerce experience with the personal attention and purchase support of a brick & mortar store by offering a local pick up option for Toronto connoisseurs who wish to come in for their order and chat with one of our sales representatives at our showroom.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you talk about your role as a trendsetter in a stigmatized industry?
Nima: Before I started TorontoVaporizer I found it was incredibly difficult to find credible vaporizer reviews or retailers who refrained from making reference to inappropriate things. At that point in time, the vaporizer reviews available were extremely subjective and littered with misinformation. There were thousands of micro-sites that were paid and maintained by our US competitors which glorified every vaporizer that had a good enough margin. These retailers were ‘reviewing’ vaporizers, not for the benefit of the end customer and their needs, but rather as a way to drive their own sales. I wanted to do something different with TorontoVaporizer and 1) create a purchase environment that connoisseurs such as myself would feel comfortable buying from and 2) provide extensive product knowledge and exceptional customer service for purchase support before, during and after the vaporizer purchase.
We were the first vaporizer retailer in the industry to create objective vaporizer reviews, a value we firmly stand behind to this day. We are transparent about the fact that we are a retailer and provide vaporizer reviews because we want to ensure our customers have all the information they need to choose a vaporizer perfect for their individual needs, rather than as a way to boost sales. While big US competitors are still using microsites and ‘reviewing’ units that have a great margin, these reviews often give the thumbs to units that would be a horrible purchase from a customer perspective. We chose to do something different for the betterment of our customers and the wider connoisseur community by not hiding the fact that we are the retailer behind the reviews and by choosing to adopt a policy where we only carry units we firmly stand behind and would use ourselves. Because of this, we don’t need to be biased and we set ourselves apart as a trendsetter by being so transparent and objective, using certain terms and lingo in our reviews that has been widely adopted with not only our customers but the global connoisseur community.
BusinessInterviews.com: How important is social media to your overall marketing strategy?
Nima: I consider our social media outlets to be like an extra ‘portal’ into our corporate identity for those who care to see how we communicate with our customers and who want to find out more about our company and what we do. If you look onto our Facebook page, Google plus page, Twitter page, etc. you can see right off the bat how we talk to people and how people respond to us. We care about our community and in turn, they care about us. This mutually engaging relationship has been invaluable from a marketing perspective, even though we don’t necessarily expect any direct sales from it. A social media marketing strategy like this does mean however, we can expect a slightly higher conversion rate, because people trust us more as a result of knowing more about us.
In addition, our blog has become one of the world’s most comprehensive vaporizer review centers, and because we have such a wealth of valuable vaporizer specific content, it has become essential to our marketing efforts. We share our blog content on our social media outlets because we know it is interesting and useful for our fan bases and they respond, ‘approving of our content’ through likes and comments. This kind of social proof and engagement is also essential to our marketing strategy because it shows others who come to our social media pages that we value our community by providing them with objective information.
BusinessInterviews.com: You launched TorontoVaporizer while in college with nothing but a $2000 credit card. Can you share some insights on how you’ve managed to grow into a multi-million dollar operation within just 5 years?
Nima: Starting a business with almost no budget was probably the biggest challenge of my life. Initially, I felt like I was constantly missing opportunities to make money through my business because I didn’t have enough funds to start with. I tried over and over to apply for loans and credit card increases but was rejected multiple times. Although I was obviously discouraged, this struggle taught me that the only way I could dig myself out of this kind of hole and try achieve success was simply to dig deep and ‘figure things out.’ At the start of TorontoVaporizer the only way I could do this was to cut back drastically on any and all unnecessary spending. I lived on $1000 CAD a month. I stopped going out, I stopped hanging out with friends and I stopped buying anything personal. In fact, literally the only things I did were work on my business and play strategy games on the computer to de-stress.
I developed what I like to call the ‘poor man’s just in time inventory system.’ I would place orders for what I would expect to sell in a week and repeat the process, making just barely enough to scoot by on. In the first few years, I did everything by myself and truly ran a one man show. I learned coding, theming, graphic design, video editing, content writing, SEO, inventory management, etc. I was wondering back then how my competitors expected to beat me, because I seriously would not take any days off! Because I didn’t have the resources to outsource these tasks, all I could do was figure out how to do them on my own. I worked 7 days a week, pulling 14 hours a day with no vacation time – I was a machine, but I had to be.
Nowadays, we live in an information age where it truly is possible to know anything if you need to, however the knowledge you have is really just a factor of the amount of time you put in to acquire it. In my opinion, and what I like to pass on to other entrepreneurs is, it’s not necessarily ‘who you know’ and not even really ‘what you know’ (at least when starting off) but it’s all about knowing how long and hard you are willing to work for what you want.
BusinessInterviews.com: How has your definition of success evolved since first creating the business?
Nima: Well to be honest, I don’t think about success the way most do after ‘successfully becoming an entrepreneur.’ I feel like its most commonly preached that once you are successful as an entrepreneur, you will also automatically become happy and that’s what I honestly thought would happen. However, there is a big problem with this ideology considering success and happiness aren’t intrinsically tied together. So somewhere along the line, when I noticed that my revenue wasn’t correlated with my level of happiness, I decided to go on a mission to find happiness through bypassing the mindset that simply obtaining success would produce joy. I realized that in order to be happy, I needed my environment to be filled with happiness.
In that light, I think there are two types of people; job takers and job creators. I had a difficult childhood. I experienced living through a war and moving through three continents in search of a place to call ‘home.’ As I survived through adapting and finding my set career and life path, I have been nurtured through my struggles to actually become one of these ‘job creators.’ So nowadays, what I think of from the time I wake up until the time I go to sleep is how to live up to this responsibility of being not only just a job creator but being the one who creates happy jobs.
I have been in the opposite role many times as a ‘job taker’ and I know how difficult it can be. Now, as a boss, I have the responsibility to support my employees with this happiness so that they can pass that joy and enthusiasm on to all our customers. So, only through keeping my TVT (TorontoVaporiezr Team) happy, can I make sure that their good mood makes it all the way down the line to our customers. So at the end of the day, I align my own happiness with that of my employees and therefore my customers. So with this new ideology and in line with the whole notion that we are all connected to one another, I found that success is merely a byproduct of the happiness I create for the stakeholders around me.
BusinessInterviews.com: Can you share how ZEUS Arsenal has played a very important role in the success of TorontoVaporizer in Canada?
Nima: Soon after I started TorontoVaporizer I realized that most vaporizer manufactures concentrate their resources and time on strictly building vaporizers, dismissing the many accessories that are also needed for a complete vaporization experience, such as grinders, storage cases, cleaning products, etc (for a complete picture of what I mean with accessories and complete arsenal, I would recommend that you visit the www.zeusarsenal .com website). However, in my mind, I thought that if one finds a liking to vaporizing, it is not only a product choice they make one time when buying their vaporizer, but it’s also a lifestyle choice. When you make the lifestyle choice to become a health conscious connoisseur, it also means that you need all the little building blocks that make your lifestyle and vaporization experience complete. So I created ZEUSArsneal to cater to connoisseurs who needed these little building blocks. My goal with ZEUSArsneal was to create a line of premium vaporizer accessories that not only make the consumers experience complete, but also provided a private label brand for TorontoVaporizer. ZEUSArsneal can only be purchased through Torontovaproizer and
I think this is a huge competitive advantage that is not easily copied. To date, there are nearly 100,000 ZEUS products in circulation used on a daily basis by our customer base, and because ZEUSArsenal is exclusive to TorontoVaporizer it has helped us immensely with customer loyalty and word of mouth marketing. I get so happy when people gradually ‘complete their arsenal’ coming back to us for these necessary accessories, because they will just enjoy their vaporizing experience much more; I can relate to that because I have the entire ZEUSArsenal line and use it every day too. Aside from the immense exposure both ZEUS and TorontoVaporizer gets indirectly from that, it just further pumps up the motivation in the whole office when we think about the daily presence we have in the lives of our customers.
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