JUUL: Make the Switch to a Top-Quality Experience
Living on the edge is a great life philosophy, but not when it comes to cigarettes. Although an ancient practice adopted by millions, habitual smoking has always been labeled risky, harmful, and in instances, even lethal.
Bothered by the health perils that came with smoking, Adam Bowen and James Monsees, both avid tobacco fans, decided to make their and every other smoker’s life easier and cleaner. It took the friends one look at the mortality rates caused by smoking to act upon the issue and ultimately set up a totally new market trend - vaping!
The arrival of JUUL announced a new era for eager smokers. JUUL is a unique vaping device that eradicates the use of combustible cigarettes. Portable and designed to mimic the traditional feel of cigarettes, JUUL’s pods enhance the smoking quality for fanatics starved for a change of pace.
Considered the trailblazers of modern vaping, here is how James and Adam gave JUUL a place on the market!
The Brains behind JUUL
James Monsees was born in St. Louis, Missouri. From a young age, his parents didn’t consider him as one of the bunch but rather as an exceptional kid. Instead of trucks and balls, James used to play with spare parts of random appliances he had found at home. In his imagination, James had felt like fixing things was one of the things he was good at, as was reinventing and repurposing.
At the age of 15, James received a fixer-upper car as a gift. He spent all of his spare time fixing it and eventually made a functional car out of a broken shell. At the time, smoking cigarettes was considered a contentious issue in the Monsees’ household, especially since James’ mother was a doctor. She had always nurtured hard feelings towards smokers, as her mother was one as well, and tried to teach James to steer away from the nasty habit.
James’ maternal grandfather was also a heavy smoker and actually died of lung cancer at a relatively young age, which caused James’ mother to become especially strict about her family smoking.
Consequently, James had also felt strongly about the idea of not smoking. Unfortunately, he picked up the habit during his college days, whilst studying Product Design at Stanford University with his colleague - and later a cofounder - Adam Bowen.
Adam Bowen, born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, grew up quite similarly to James Monsees. Early on in life, Adam abandoned childish games for model planes and cars and mainly spent his time drawing aircraft and vehicle designs. Although at the time Andy was unaware of what ‘product design’ meant, he had taught himself the ropes of the process by heart and through interest.
Side Events that Needed to Happen
During their college years, James and Adam spent lots of time together and tried to come up with a common invention to develop. Although they threw a handful of ideas on the table, none of them felt mission-driven enough for the twosome to dedicate their efforts to.
Most business discussions James and Adam took place over fast food, drinks, and of course, cigarettes. Whilst neither of them had an issue with junk food or beverages, both Adam and James felt strongly about the idea of ending smoking as a practice.
Back in 2004, e-cigarettes were not a thing and were yet to be invented. Interestingly, their own perilous vice would spark up interest in both Adam and James and encourage them to think outside the (cigarette) box and design an alternative that made smoking safer, more practical, and tech-boosted.
Making Vision a Reality
When Adam and James began developing JUUL, they didn’t know they had a knockout product in their hands. What they did have, however, was an initial product concept, one they got to present in front of their college group.
Principally, the idea behind their invention was to present a suitable alternative for the traditional tobacco-rich cigarette. To discover what a suitable alternative might look like in other smokers’ minds, Adam and James conducted a series of trials with subjects willing enough to test their new design.
As it happens with all-rookie inventors, the first steps to success were always the hardest. For Adam and James, getting smokers to quit their traditional vice and use their tech-boosted alternative felt like walking a mile in stone shoes. Understanding the obstacles their new product could face at a time cigarette heavily ruled the industry, the two inventors let their project simmer for a while. In the meantime, they got busy exploring similar market options.
Ploom as a Bridge to JUUL
In 2007, long before JUUL saw the light of day, Adam and James founded their first joint product, called Ploom. Basically, Ploom was a type of pod that allowed users to install a cigarette on one end of the pod.
Instead of lighting it up, the device worked by heating up the tobacco in a way that users could smoke the cigarette without it burning out. Ploom was a downright breakthrough in the cigarette industry, but it wasn’t exactly what Adam and James were hoping to create.
JUUL was born in 2015, out of a mere necessity to refine the smoking industry and optimize the way smokers entertained their daily habits. Through enhancing the quality of Ploom and reinventing its principal modus operandi, Adam and James designed and presented JUUL as the more sophisticated smoking pod and it was a hot hit!
Bridge Over Troubled Water
Also called the portable ‘nicotine-delivery device’, JUUL is designed to imitate the natural experience of smoking cigarettes. The device works with the help of pods that contain a liquid combination of glycerol, propylene glycol, nicotine, flavorings, and benzoic acid.
The cartridge is the device mouthpiece, inserted at its top. Once ready, users can begin their e-smoking experience. One of the main reasons why JUUL is incomparable to other e-cigarettes is that it offers no extra settings. The device is smart enough to know when you take a drag and immediately begin heating up the liquid. Thanks to its temperature regulation function, the device is safe from overheating and combustion.
Although it’s considered the safest among all smoking options, JUUL still uses nicotine. Consequently, this made it challenging for the brand to promote itself as safe on the market. Following its launch, JUUL faced a handful of lawsuits, governmental and individual. However, with actual cigarettes already being market-approved, JUUL fought its way through the hurdles and came out victorious in keeping its brand afloat.
Another major challenge the company faced was interesting regarding its discreet appearance. As JUUL looks nothing like a cigarette, teenagers and minors could easily get their hands on it - something that caused massive concern among parents.
However, Adam and James ensured to make JUUL only available to users older than 18, which makes its potential misuse a matter of common sense and healthcare.
Finally, JUUL also struggled to market its product, especially in the US, where cigarette restrictions were harsher. Nevertheless, the issue somewhat sorted itself out as, well, JUUL became so popular that it didn’t really need any aggressive marketing to gain traction among worldwide users.
Once JUUL was in the clear, the investments poured in. Beginning with 2015, JUUL has raised a staggering $15.1 billion, carried out in over 11 rounds. The company’s most recent funding came in February 2020, through a round from Debt Financing.
Today, Adam Bowen holds the position of Chief Technology Officer in JUUL Labs accompanied by the Chief Product Officer aka James Monsees. JUUL Labs Inc. have employed almost 4,100 people and have their headquarters in San Francisco, California. Even though The Golden State is not the most welcoming and friendly state for doing business, JUUL Labs still employs a large number of Californians and their net worth is calculated to be approximately $38 billion.
Future Goals and Projects
As for the future plans, JUUL is making reorganizations, which will, unfortunately, cut close to 50 jobs. The purpose of the company‘s reorganization-to-come is to work on projects which will repair the relationship with their regulators. Wall Street Journal was the first to announce the job cuts.
However, JUUL’s spokesperson said the future projects will also include reducing underage use of JUULing and conducting more scientific research. This will all be worked on simultaneously with their license purchase, so JUUL can operate in and out of the US.
Smoking is extremely frowned upon these days, but this is not a story about smoking. It is a profound timeline of two men who were unafraid to take a chance on one of the most condemned industries worldwide.
They managed, if not to eradicate, then to significantly diminish the most perilous effects of smoking by offering users a safer and finer way to have a pull or two - and do it all far with a clean conscience!