Meet the founder

25 Apr 2023

Markos Markopoulos, CEO and Co-Founder of Nobacco

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  1. When did you start Nobacco? Tell us Nobacco’s story and walk us through its journey over the years.

 

We founded Nobacco in 2008, fifteen years ago, with one purpose in mind: to rid the world of smoking addiction. We were the first in Greece guiding adults impacted by smoking towards innovative, less harmful products and looking back I’m proud that we pioneered the change we see today in Greece.

 

In the summer of 2008 I met up with a friend who had just returned from visiting the UK, and she was holding an e-cigarette in her hand – I was immediately very curious. She started to smoke it, and I was taken aback and asked ‘what is that?’. Next thing I know I had bought one for myself, my brother and my father; we were all fanatic smokers. We tried it, saw the benefits, and by August we had a business up and running based out of a small warehouse in Athens. We ordered some vaping devices from China, and then we started our own brand and an e-commerce site. This is how Nobacco was born.

 

Our first store was in Athens, located just ten minutes from the city centre. Our e-liquid manufacturing unit is also based in Greece with an affiliate company of ours responsible for the manufacturing. While most of the devices come from China, we have started to also co-operate with Korea. The most important thing actually is the e-liquid – and for Nobacco’s products 95% comes from our own production.

 

When we started people around us didn’t quite understand our vision – and here we are now in 2023; it’s a totally different reality, we are the leading vaping business and brand in Greece, with 62 stores, an e-liquid manufacturing unit, and more than 3,000 points of sale; plus thousands of vapers who trust the name Nobacco and share the same vision.  We have a partnership with a big tobacco company – which is a nice add to our credentials and strengthens public trust in the future of alternatives to smoking.

 

Our permanent goal is to develop new technologies to the highest standards in line with our deep sense of responsibility to our customers who put their trust in us. We create products and services with our customers in mind first.

 

  1. What makes Nobacco the leading brand in Greece?

 

Quite simply, it’s our 360-degree approach.

 

We have the biggest network of vape shops, a great website, and an excellent distribiton position including selling across mini-kiosks all over Greece. We also have the full support from regulators, providing 100% assurance on the quality and safety of our products.

 

We are also the only vaping company in Greece to have its own laboratory, and we check all batches of e-liquid inhouse. It’s equipped with the latest technology including a gas chromatograph so we can test our products and ensure they meet the highest safety requirements. We have two very well regarded scientists on the ground, plus an external partnership with a professor from a top university in Greece who oversees the whole production.

 

  1. What products and services do you provide and in which markets do you operate?

 

Nobacco has many product lines, such as Nobacco fusion line; the main brand is Nobacco, and 90% of the products that we sell belong to our own brand. We have only a few e-liquids owned by another brand from Europe, and we also sell heated tobacco products from Philip Morris International.

 

  1. How would you describe your customer demographic?

 

At the moment most of our customers come from all over Greece, as well as from 8 to 10 European countries, through e-commerce. Currently we are big on the wholesale approach and remain focused on the Greek market.

 

  1. What are your biggest priorities at the moment?

 

We’re focused mainly on moving towards more user-friendly devices in line with market trends. We have created and designed a product with excellent prospects; it is currently sold throughout Greece via our network, and our vapers perfer it over other products for its ease of use and its wide range of flavours.

 

So, our priority right now is to get more and more vapers in Greece to try this exciting, incredibly user-friendly product. Over time, if we see the right opportunity, we would love to introduce it other markets and sell more widely.

 

  1. What do you think is the biggest challenge today facing the vaping category, and how does Nobacco plan to address it?

 

I would say broadly it’s regulation, age verification and recycling but safety, responsibility and credibility are also of paramount importance.

 

As a responsible business, we are investing in research to better understand the long-term effects of vaping and to create safer products. We are also meticulous about how we market our products, which includes working with our retailers to ensure that vapes are sold only to adults. We launched a recycling programme for disposable devices, which is in place in each of our shops, encouraging customers to discard their devices for us to recycle.

 

  1. Tell us more about your recycling programme?

 

It’s mostly popular with vapers aged 25 to 35 as these are the customers which bring in devices to our shops to be recycled. It is still early days and we do our bit with incentivising consumers to be more environmentally reponsible, by offering a better price deal, promotional codes etc.

 

Our recycling progragramme has been running for almost a year and a half now, and we have made a number of improvements since. Our technical department at Nobacco is made up of six technicians who are trained to carefully dismantle the devices, before sending them to our partner company to recycle the materials.

 

  1. Where do you see the vaping category in 10 years’ time?

 

The vaping industry has grown rapidly in the past few years, and this fantastic momentum is likely to continue. Advancements in technology would be a big growth driver and we will see more innovative and exciting products on the market over the next decade, which could attract new users to the category. Naurally, changes in the regulatory landscape will have an impact, dictating for a large part how vaping companies evolve and grow.

 

  1. Why did you decide to join Plxsur? What most excites you most about Plxsur?

 

For me, it is the challenge of building the world’s largest independent group of vaping companies and working alongside incredibly experienced individuals in the vaping industry. This is also a fantastic opportunity to exchange ideas and best practices.

 

Importantly, being part of Plxsur means we have a bigger, louder voice which will be heard by regulators in Europe. Plxsur also provides a platform to further verify and ensure that vaping products which are being sold by member companies meet safety standards and are fully compliant. Together we can elevate the industry benchmark and set new standards in the future.

 

  1. You mentioned you were a smoker – tell us how vaping helped you to quit and what is your vape of choice?

 

I started to smoke when I was 16, and then stopped when I was around 23 or 24. When they were first introduced, vape products were great at capturing the essence of a cigarette, but now I only vape, and have been vaping for almost a decade now.

 

My favourite products at the moment are the easy-to-use ones such as the disposable or refill pods. Consumers need easy-to-use products and I’m very much in that category. In terms of flavours, I always have the tobacco taste with me. My second favourite is blueberry, and third favourite is watermelon.

 

 

Visit the Nobacco website here

 

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