There are moments in time that change the course of history. The bombing of Pearl Harbor. The assignation of President Kennedy. The 9/11 attack of the World Trade Center.

Significant events are not always tragic, but the ones that have an immediate effect usually are.

In this microcosm world we live in called the “Vape Space,” that watershed moment happened just a few months ago, on August 8, 2016.

In one day the Federal Drug Administration changed the course of our vaping industry. Everything that was before, is no more. What comes now will be different. Will it be better? That remains to be seen.

A few years ago, anyone could- and did- create a vape business from scratch.

Aaron Pederson, the founder of Space Jam, started with a partner and just $1500. He launched big and created a multimillion dollar company in less than two years.

Mark Hoogendoorn started selling mods from the trunk of his car. As an engineer seeking improvement, he tweaked them and made them better. He later opened a retail shop, then a juice line and then a wholesale division. The company he created, Madvapes, is one of the largest retailers in the nation and recently merged with a major player for tens of millions of dollars.

Moving forward you will not be able to create success by accident or good timing. It will take knowledge, money and resources. With an estimated 80 to 97 percent failure rate predicted over the next two years it will also take something that is foreign to vape professionals.

Rather than working solo with an “I win, you lose” mindset, the future will be based on collaboration, since without it, we all fail.

With that motivation, a new entity called Vape Industry Business Exchange, VIBE, recently launched.

According to their Mission Statement, “VIBE is dedicated to help vape industry survivors to THRIVE. The only survivors will be those that focus on Good Practices, smart management, and collaboration amongst each other.”

Their goal is to bring together retailers, distributors, and manufacturers under one umbrella to provide the resources of group buying power, legal advice, education, and marketing and sales support.

Founded by leaders in the vaping industry, VIBE is focused on three main areas.

For retailers VIBE will offer several things:
• Group buying power. Whether you are a solo player, a chain or part of a franchise, this buyer’s group will collectively have the power of hundreds of shops. That will afford you the lowest tier pricing for hardware and juice.

• Education: VIBE works with the largest vape consultancy and developer of online training programs in the world, to bring top Thought Leaders to your business.

• Legal Guidance. The vape industry is a minefield of legal questions post deeming regulations. They offer guidance through the maze of regulations and restrictions to keep you out of trouble- and in business.

• Relationships: They have created relationships with all the advocacy groups in the United States as well as overseas, and is your best resource for all the latest information that affects your vape business.

VIBE was also formed to support e-liquid companies by offering:

• A huge distribution network of vape shop owners looking to stock popular products that are legally compliant.
• Access to professional co-packing facilities, giving you group buying power for better co-pack pricing and confidence your e-liquid is made within FDA guidelines.

• Group buying power for PMTAs through collaboration with dozens of companies. Members receive PMTA development services at quantity pricing based on many flavors instead of only a few, as well as guidance from the best legal and scientific minds in the industry.

• Flavor Exchange. If you are a manufacturer of liquids, you can safely license your proprietary flavors to be submitted for PMTAs to other members. You can also buy approved PMTA flavors at prices below regular wholesale.

VIBE also supports vendors through the large database of professionals that are committed and dedicated to stay in business.

And the winners are…
We are seeing other examples of teamwork and collaboration in many other areas.

An international magazine from Europe is teaming with a US magazine to offer the best of both continents, which is the wave of the future.

Cosmic Fog, an e-liquid market leader for the past two years on the west coast, recently partnered with VaporFi, which has one of the largest footprints in their home state of Florida. Together they created Strawberry Shortcake Ice Cream and has been met with glowing reviews and response.

These are not isolated incidents but instead are signs of the future.

These new partnerships between brothers in spirit prove that those who are committed to change and adaptation will seek out collaborative partners.

As we crest into 2017 we will see the closure of many liquid companies and retail shops. Success will not happen by accident, so if you think you can succeed alone you better think again. SVBS

Norm Bour Headshot (Low-Res)Norm Bour is the founder of VapeMentors and creator of the VAPE U online programs. They offer services & resources for anyone in the vape space, including vape shops, online stores and e-liquid brands. He’s also the host of Vape Radio, the largest vaping radio show in the world with more than 1.3 M downloads. Norm interviews the masters of vape and thought leaders in the vape space. Contact him at [email protected]