Young Roland Szegi boards an airplane in Romania with only 10$ in his pocket. On his way to the US, he feels intimidated but is determined to become a successful businessman. Starting his life in New York modestly as a construction worker, he finally meets a business mentor and begins networking. Soon he started exploring the business world, and after many trials and errors, the AirVape was born.AirVape is a story of the true American Dream, that was brought to life only by determination and persistence. Read our interview with Roland and find out what inspired him to commit his career to vaporizer design, what he learned from his global travels and what can we expect from AirVape in the following year.What do our readers need to know about Roland Szegi, the founder of AirVape?
My nationality is Hungarian but I was born in Romania in the 1980s when it was still a communist country. I think that most of my aspirations and dreams were the results of seeing my parents living under a communist regime and witnessing all of its restrictions and limitations.Back then having an open mind was an act of rebellion.
In my younger years, I played soccer professionally until my career has ended due to injuries and that is when I decided to go to business school and it became clear that I have a better chance at fulfilling my dreams in the United States.You've told me that your story is very similar to an American dream coming true type movie, tell us more about that. How did you end up moving to the US and what was it like in the beginning?
Yes, indeed it felt like a movie scene when I landed at JFK I had literally 10 dollars in my pocket and had no idea if this movie is going to have a happy or a sad ending. Seeing New York for the time was just as exciting as it was intimidating. My first job was at a construction site and I rented the top of a bunk bed in Brooklyn so, I guess it was a highly motivating way to start.
One day, while I was working out at a gym in Manhattan, I was talking to a guy about how strange it is for me to hear Americans complain about the recession while, compared to my home country, America seemed like a great place to be. As it turns out, that person was a very successful businessman and he became my mentor. I consider myself lucky to have met and learned from people like him and many others that motivated me and opened my eyes to new ways of thinking.
You loved New York so much and everything it had to offer you. How come you've moved to California?
New York is a fast paced environment that is great for business and for cultivating a business mindset but sunny California was the place I needed to get a fresh perspective on what I really wanted to achieve. It allowed me to find the artist inside of me and truly connect with my creativity. The influence of both of these cities are reflected in AirVape. If I had to put a finger on it I'd say the performance was inspired by NY and the elegant design came from Cali.After moving to Cali you started your first business, way before founding AirVape. What was that about? What have you learned from that experience? I'm sure a lot of fellow entrepreneurs would love to get a few tips on what type of pitfalls to avoid.
I actually started my first business when I was 18, my stepfather was 'motivating' me by saying that it would not work (laughs).
Today I love looking back on those moments when somebody would tell me I can't do it. It was only fueling my ambitions to prove them wrong. The first company I co-created in California was also a vaporizer business, called Vaporize101, we were basically reselling all kinds of vaporizers. Because of a failed partnership that didn’t work out and I had to give up the name and most of the infrastructure we have built together. I decided to start another company, creating a brand that has its own products.
I wouldn’t change anything, because AirVape would not exist without those past mistakes, but if I would have stayed in the exact same line of business, the company would have been the size of a Greenlane by now (or around there.) I let emotions influence my business decisions when I left all of that behind.The AirVape brand - what does it stand for? How do you differentiate yourselves from other companies on the market?
AirVape was born from the idea of creating the thinnest, yet high-performing vaporizer, because most of the portable vapes of that time seemed way too big to make a good pocket-fit.
We always work hard on bringing revolutionary ideas to life, ideas that people don’t see anywhere else. The X Shell, the smell-proof and water-resistant case is one of the many unique ideas that are still surprising people.How many employees do you currently have?
12.What are the biggest challenges when hiring in this industry?
It depends what field we are hiring for but in general reliability and full honesty. Also, finding the motivational factor of the individual is the biggest challenge.
The AirVape Team
What does your current product lineup look like?
Our main product: the AirVape X, the Special Edition and Artist Edition of the X. Furthermore, a new basic model, the AirVape XS and the AirVape OM for oil concentrate. And of course, the awesome accessories that we give a lot of attention to, from which I would mention the Water Bong attachment and last but not least, our own invention: The Rocket grinder.
Can you tell us a bit more about the materials you use in manufacturing your products? What's your philosophy behind it?
Other than our technology and design, we put great focus on our production, on the materials we use and the quality control of those. We manufacture inside our Chinese partner-factory and we make sure that the stigma of the lower quality of Chinese materials/manufacturing is disappearing by creating a device that is clearly top notch when you get to hold an AirVape product in your hands. From sourcing to assembling everything is strictly quality controlled.
We are aware of how important the quality of the materials is for our customers, so in the AirVape X, we made sure that the air comes in contact with nothing but high-grade ceramic from the herb to the mouth. That is one of the keys to the success of the X model.
Airvape with the Water Bong attachment
You're a world traveler and can be frequently seen on almost all continents. Which place captured your heart's attention the most?
I feel that Barcelona is one of the most sophisticated cities with a great vibe and amazing architecture. Thailand is another big favorite that actually inspired the creation of the AirVape OM. How does the vaping landscape look like in the rest of the world when compared to the US? It's huge in America - are other countries following the vaping trends? Do you see a rise in popularity?
That is a very good question. The laws are greatly influencing the popularity of vaping, of course. We actually wrote several articles about this, the complexity comes from the fact that the laws vary from country to country. Some are trying to regulate only the liquid vapes while others regulate all of them under the same umbrella.
I believe dry herb vaping is on the rise, still, and for many parts of the world is still in the beginning phase. In the US, many people know about liquid vaping but not as many know that you can vape dry herbs. Europe follows the US trend when it comes to the popularity of vapes at a slightly different pace and so does the rest of the world.
In India, for instance, it’s still just at the very, very beginning. Education of the population is still needed to explain the benefits of vaping, but I think it is a country that will adapt to it very quickly. Which major events will you be attending in the near future?
TPE and Champs.What should we look forward to from AirVape in the coming months?
We are very excited about the next year because we will have a few new product releases. A basic model, with the same sophisticated and fast heating technology like our successful XS, the new XS GO will be a model that retails for under $100.
The Rocket grinder, our awesome invention, will have an upgraded look and functionality. And the biggest surprise is the AirVape Legacy, the portable vape that will have a long functionality list and I can promise you, it will not follow the industry standards in design, nor in technology but it will greatly surpass it. It is going to be a truly revolutionary vaporizer.
We want to thank Ronald and the AirVape team for this interview. If you want to find more about them, check out their website here: https://airvapeusa.com/.
You can also follow them on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/airvapeusa/