Meet the founder

12 May 2023

Edzus Picka, Co-Founder of ProVape

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What is your company’s story; how were you founded and what has been your journey over the years?

 

ProVape was first founded in 2016 in Latvia by myself – my background being in chemistry and technology – and my business partner Martins Jamonts, who is a great salesman and has a lot of corporate experience.

 

Our initial product was e-liquids. In 2017, we had our first international trade show in Germany and got our first exporting contract. Building on that, each year we continued to grow and at the end of 2019 branched out into disposable e-cigarettes. We started to develop our own product and our own brand called Salt, which is now our biggest product.

 

Going from being just the two of us, there are now more than 100 of us at ProVape but it still feels like one close-knit, big family; we have an amazing team and amazing people working here.

 

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

 

We produce and distribute e-liquids, disposable e-cigarettes and pod systems through our own brands, Salt and Kubik. Currently we operate in more than 40 markets, most of them in Europe, but also in Africa and Asia. We have our own retail chain in Latvia, where we provide our customers with e-cigarettes and e-liquids of our brands and other world-wide brands.

 

Our e-liquids are produced at our own manufacturing site in Riga, and our pod systems and disposables are produced in China.

 

The biggest markets are the Baltic states, as well as countries like Austria, Czech Republic, and Slovakia. We are now also doing a lot of work in the German market, which is very important to us.

 

Can you describe your customer demographic?

 

Our customer is the tobacco smoker or ex-smoker, who is open and willing to switch to less harmful alternatives. They can be any age or gender. I would say that I am representative of our typical customer – a mid thirties ex-smoker who understands that smoking, unlike vaping, actually kills.

 

What are your biggest priorities at the moment?

 

To provide our customers and partners with the best possible product and service. Most importantly, to do so in a responsible way and not breaking any laws or regulations. Also, giving our customers the chance to switch and benefit from less harmful smoking for the sake of their health.

 

What’s your view on how the market for vaping products has developed since the time of ProVape’s inception, the growth drivers and any other factors unique to your market?

 

The vaping market is changing all the time – when we started out it was mostly big devices producing big clouds. Since then, every year it continues to change and develop. Most users switched to pod systems, and in the last three years there has been a huge growth in the whole industry thanks to easy-to-use products like disposable cigarettes.

 

I think that’s the big reason why so many smokers have tried vaping in recent years – because it is easy to use.

 

What would you say are the USPs supporting your dominant position in your market?

 

I think consistency of product quality and the fact that we are vocal sets us apart. Environmental impacts and underage vaping initiatives remain central to our thinking. We have strict rules with our customers and in our shops; we never sell products to minors.

 

In terms of our initiatives, we are partaking and financially supporting an environmental movement – it’s a day observed nationwide where everyone volunteers to collect rubbish.

 

We also endorse all of our partners to return used e-cigarettes to us, and have placed collection boxes in every sales point where possible. We then send them to a third-party professional recycling company, and we are currently looking into ways to send them back to our manufacturing site so they can be reused back into our products. We also work with some organisations to send them to fighters in Ukraine, to use in flashlights and other devices which require batteries.

 

In the summer, when there will be lots of open-air festivals and events, we will be working closely with local municipalities on some environmental initiatives too.

 

As Latvia’s most popular e-cigarette brand, are you able to describe your impact on bringing down the smoking rates in the Latvia? Would you say you are making a similar impact in other markets?

 

We know that around 35% of all nicotine product users now vape, which is a huge number, considering that three to four years ago it was only a small percentage of nicotine users. In my opinion, vaping will have a good impact on the future health of our nation. For other markets in Europe, we see people switching from smoking to vaping; sales of cigarettes are decreasing and sales of e-cigarettes are increasing.

 

Why did you decide to join Plxsur?

 

ProVape has joined Plxsur because it has huge potential and big plans in terms of being the main voice in the vaping industry, and the biggest collective of independent vaping companies in Europe, perhaps even the world. That’s a great cause, and when you work together, you have greater potential to tackle the problems facing the industry.

 

What are the top three priorties or changes that you think are needed to advance the vaping industry?

 

Number one is doing business responsibly – not selling illicit products that breach laws or regulations. Secondly, addressing underage vaping and supporting initiatives against underage vaping. Finally, spreading the message that if you don’t use nicotine, you shouldn’t start.

 

Have you ever been a smoker?

 

Yes, and for a few years I still smoked and vaped at the same time, but then I switched to vaping completely. Now it’s been around five years since I last had a cigarette. My vape of choice is only our own products, and my favourite flavour is apple. I tried many products everyday, because that is part of our job, but I choose our products because I simply like them the best.

 

 

Visit the ProVape website here

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