E-Juice Magazine: Shai Bekman, can you introduce yourself and give us a little bit of your background?
Shai Bekman: I am married, 31 years old. A serial entrepreneur by nature, and a programmer by trade. I operate every venture utilizing the PSS model (Price, Service, Speed) – I always strive to provide the absolute best price, the best service, and the fastest delivery speed.
EM: How did you initially become aware of vaping and what made you want to get into this industry?
SB: I was visiting family in Florida in 2013 and saw someone that had an eGO-C Twist. Being a heavy smoker (40 cigarettes/day) that wasn’t feeling the best any more I decided to inquire, and the rest was history. My wife and I picked up an eGo-C Twist on September 11, 2013, and we haven’t smoked another cigarette since.
EM: Legend has it DashVapes started in a small basement. How did this small business which started in a basement grow to be the giant that is DashVapes?
SB: Absolutely. Once I found success using vapes, I started importing some to sell to friends and family that kept inquiring; mostly to support the costs I was incurring from purchasing product. I was living with my parents and used my basement apartment to store inventory and mix e-liquid. One day, my mother came home and had to wait about 25 minutes to enter her own home because there was a line up of people waiting to purchase product. Roughly 30 days later, we opened our first location in Richmond Hill.
EM: DashVapes is a well respected name in the vape community and has done so much good for the industry by spreading awareness of the benefits of switching to vaping as a healthier alternative to smoking. While this is admirable, not every brand in the vape industry stands up to the criticism on a national level and takes interviews with national media outlets to protect vaping and its benefits. What made DashVapes want to take this stand and be a mouthpiece for vapers and the industry?
SB: I’m extremely outspoken and passionate. Although this may rub some people the wrong way, it is something I think brings tremendous value during difficult times. I realize I have a unique position where my voice can be amplified, and my passion and knowledge of the industry can handle any situation that is thrusted upon me. This is why I continually go head to head with some major media personnel that are grossly misinformed. I chip away at their lack of knowledge and by doing so, they may think twice before posting further propaganda. It’s worked quite well for us in Canada thus far.
EM: DashVapes has grown in popularity on social media over the years, more specifically YouTube. Can you speak to what this popularity has done for the DashVapes brand?
SB: David Praph is a content genius. The entire credit for our popularity on social media has to go to him. He’s doing some incredible things.
EM: One of our favorite YouTube hosts, Dave Praph is always seemingly on point in DashVapes videos delivering easy to understand, digestible content even on the most complex topics in vaping. How did the relationship between DV and Dave come about?
SB: Dave was hired to work as a sales associate at our Toronto store initially. He showed an interest in helping with our social media team at the time. He has a background in photography and a definite eye for visuals. I always try to let staff that want to try their hand at unique opportunities run with it, and in this instance, David flourished. It’s been a very rewarding experience for myself watching him grow as a content creator.
EM: Now that we are on the subject of DV videos, what are some of your favorite videos and why?
SB: My absolute favourite one is the “My Strange Addiction | Vaping”. It is so well made, and such an accurate parody. The entire 5 types of vapers videos are also absolutely hilarious. They always have a blast making them.
EM: With the launch of the collaborative effort earlier this year between DV, Phil Busardo, Dimitris Agrafiotis (VapinGreek) and Matt Culley (SuckMyMod) with “Unsalted” E-liquid, it would seem DashVapes is very much open to working with some of the great people in this industry. Do you intend on working on any other collaborations in the near future and what was it like to work with these guys on the Unsalted venture?
SB: We are always open to working with advocacy-driven individuals. In the case of Unsalted, I think we all had the same vision for where the industry needs to get back to (Lower nicotine, freebase, etc) and we were aligned to create a great line that is helping many people stay off cigarettes. If someone approached us with an idea and we shared the vision they have, we are always open to collaborate.
EM: It’s ten years in the future, where do you see the vape industry from your perspective? What rules, regulations, and growth do you hope to see in the future of vaping on a world scale?
SB: It’s extremely difficult to predict even six months in to the future when it comes to this industry – I see many tobacco companies swallow up the vaping companies we see today.
EM: On a more personal level, where do you see DashVapes going in the years to come? Any exciting plans for the future?
SB: We’re always striving to grow and make our products and store experiences more accessible.
Some companies try to operate with explosive growth (opening 10 locations at once, etc) – We do it slowly. Once our newest locations sustain themselves, that is when we focus on opening new ones in new cities.
We hope to have 20 locations total between Ontario and British Columbia in the next 24 months.
EM: After all of the vape industry controversy, and continuing to push vaping as a harm reduction method, what legacy do you hope DashVapes leaves after it’s all said and done?
SB: We hope that through our content, people are able to see through the propaganda and gross misinformation campaigns that some of the most trusted “body-part” (Lung, Heart and Stroke, etc) organizations perpetuate. No one should be worried about stopping smoking because they think that vaping is equal in harm (or even more harmful).