Inspiration Series, Part VIII – DANIEL WALSH
Daniel Walsh, often referred to as “the high priest of vaping,” is one of the visionaries who has been working behind the scenes in the vape industry since long before it was even an industry. We met Daniel at our very first vape expo in September 2014, and our teams were drawn to each other as we both promote standards of excellence in manufacturing and have a passion for facilitating progress in the vape industry. As part of an ongoing conversation between us, we checked in with Daniel to talk about the industry’s continuous evolution.
TRAILBLAZER: You established a company in 2002 to develop technology that we might call a precursor to e-cigarettes. Please share what inspired you to walk what was at the time a very obscure path.
D: When I was young, I watched both of my grandparents die from smoking-related diseases and illnesses. Like, I literally watched stage by stage as chain-smoking consumed them. It was one of the most heart-breaking experiences of my entire life. Later when I was older, working in technology, I felt like smoking was one of the great challenges of our era, and a few friends agreed so we set out to see if we could strip carcinogenic molecules from the smoking experience. It was a long road, but even from the beginning we felt like the idea itself had the potential to change millions upon millions of lives…
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: How did the technology coming out of China change the course of your company? We have seen an aversion to products made in China for the past couple of years among many in the vape community; do you see a return to greater synergy between the USA and China on the vape horizon?
D: As Chinese manufacturers really started to tool up and get into hardware, we decided to shift our focus more and more towards e-liquid. These days, the quality of the hardware coming out of China is orders of magnitude better than ever before, and the price points are really hard to beat. There is still great hardware coming from the USA and EU, but overall it feels like the Chinese manufacturers have really stepped their game up in the hardware segment and are likely to continue to grow.
Personally, I go to China from time to time, visit factories and talk with regulators and, now, with favorable regulations finally being passed in China, I expect to see even better synergies emerge in the coming years. Having worked in and with China for a long time, I have definitely seen the ebb and flow of social sentiment towards Chinese products. It seems like now the world is sort of hitting a stride and China has staked a claim to making some of the best devices around. I’ve toured a lot of Chinese factories, and I can say that over the years, more and more scientists, and PhDs and professionals are getting involved and the quality is just skyrocketing. In the beginning, in China, just like in the USA, it was very much a grassroots thing… there were a lot of issues and hiccups at that stage; now it’s much more industrial and the quality is much higher across the board industry-wide.
The market just expects more now. I think we’ll see the synergies continue to increase now that China has begun a process of reasonable regulation and governmental oversight—it should just keep getting better in both price and quality from both the USA and China.
SCIENCE FIRST: You are trained as a scientist; we face no shortage of subpar studies used to attack our industry. What would you say is the most invaluable piece of research conducted about vaping? With your expertise of the industry and background in science, have you considered undertaking research on vaping?
D: I don’t even know where to begin. Recently we partnered with Vaping.com and ECF, and now have access to the global body of published and unpublished research. I can’t really begin to pin down a single study. I’d say I very much liked the British Ministry of Health’s paper on vaping being 95% less harmful than smoking. They encapsulated a ton of research in that paper. Personally, yes, we both fund and conduct quite a bit of ongoing research, much of which is circulating around the industry already. You won’t find my name on those papers, but our team is involved in large research projects around the world now…
ADVOCACY: You have witnessed and operated within a changing legislative atmosphere surrounding the vape industry for the past few years. How have you been active in advocacy efforts on behalf of the industry and can you share any predictions about the future?
D: We spend a somewhat remarkable amount of time and resources on advocacy around the world. Our team was intimately involved in USA, EU, and China policy and invited to consult with many leading policy-making bodies. Personally, that’s not my expertise, but we have a whole division that focuses pretty much exclusively on that. Here in the USA, we’ve been toured by congressmen, personally met with FDA directors, Had TPSAC tour our facility, and support and remain involved with many of the leading USA-based organizations for policy and advocacy around the country. In fact, we spend more on advocacy and policy than marketing! It’s a huge part of what our company does, striving to protect and preserve the industry every way we can.
With regards to future predictions, I’d say: It should be an interesting few years.
GOT SPARK: What inspires you most about the vape industry? What about the vape community?
D: I think, personally, it’s the success stories. People who’ve struggled for years to quit smoking, who then quit in days or weeks with the help of an e-cig or vaping device. Those stories keep me going. With regards to the community, I really feel like it’s the forgotten side of the community, the convenience store vapers, who are struggling just to get a good vape… that’s the part of the community I think I’m most focused on, the transitional users who are still trying to upgrade to something a little better…
HANDCHECK: What is your favorite set-up?
D: Sneaky!!! I have everything, nearly every device made is at my disposal, so I tend to mix it up quite a bit. I favor large tanks and dual 18650 devices, because I don’t like to mess with stuff or set stuff up or refill stuff, I just want vaping to be easy and pleasurable. Right now, I’m using an IPV 4 with an Atlantis large body original and vaping an unreleased flavor we’ve been working on for a few years. I often will vape a flavor non-stop for a month or two before we refine it, and we can often spend 6 to 12 months refining a design before we release it.
BIG PLANS: 2015 was a big year for you as you were part of the Artist Collection released by NJOY. With 2016 right around the corner, can you share any of your plans for the year ahead with us?
D: 2016 is expected to be a big year for us; vaping.com is now open and we really hope we can become that bridge between the transitional users and the vape hobbyists. I see a lot of people who give up on vaping after a bad convenience store experience—we want to make getting a good vape easier for new and novice users, and we want to make access to good supplies easier for experienced users. We’re hoping vaping.com can become a place to achieve both those goals—a kind of global industry center point where the guesswork is removed and the whole process of learning to vape is streamlined and made easy for everyone at every level.
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The Inspiration Series:
- Inspiration Series, Part I – MARIA
- Inspiration Series, Part II – WORLDWIDE VAPERS
- Inspiration Series, Part III – RELIK TRIBE
- Inspiration Series, Part IV – BMI ROSE
- Inspiration Series, Part V – DREW
- Inspiration Series, Part VI – AARON BIEBERT
- Inspiration Series, Part VII – AMY JEANETTE
- Inspiration Series, Part VIII – DANIEL WALSH
- Inspiration Series, Part IX – SABRINA
- Inspiration Series Continued HERE