Mike Cameron – Founder and CEO of SMOKO
We were very lucky to be able to interview Mike Cameron one of the founders and CEO of SMOKO. In a series of questions he gives a insightful view into his thoughts about the electronic cigarette industry and about his company SMOKO. Enjoy!
Question 1: Please tell me a little about yourself ?
An ex-Marlboro Light smoker myself. Been off cigarettes for the last 10 years and have made it my personal and professional goal to help as many other smokers make the switch to e-cigs and a much healthier lifestyle.
Question 2: what brought you to doing what you do now running a successful e cigarette company?
My wife and myself founded SMOKO over 2 years ago and haven’t looked back. I have worked around the world in various industries and roles and built a number of companies. However, there is nothing more rewarding than hearing some of the feedback we get from our customers every day and the impact we have had on their lives!
Question 3: What made you choose England as the place to start SMOKO?
The UK is one of the biggest markets for electronic cigarettes and seemed like the logical place to start. It’s such a fantastic country with amazing lifestyle and full of great people and seeing how our e-Liquids are made in the UK, what better place for SMOKO to call home.
Question 4: Does SMOKO make their own electronic cigarette products and E liquid?
95% of the electronic cigarettes sold in the UK use liquids made in China. When we started to source our manufacturing partners in China, I asked each of the 30 factories to show me where they make their e-liquids. Guess how many of them showed me? None. Nada. Not one of them!! So this got me worried – if we are going to have hundreds of thousands of customers (millions one day me hopes) then we need to be absolutely 100% positively sure what is in our products. So we made the decision to do things very differently compared to everyone else. All of our ingredients are sourced from within the EU and come with the stacks of documentation and paperwork ensuring everything ticks all of the boxes. Then everything is mixed, manufactured and tested here in the UK to surpass all of the current standards. We then ship all of liquids in bulk to our factories in China where it is all packaged and sent back to the UK. As you can imagine, this is a logistical nightmare, but it is a small price to pay to ensure there is “no horsemeat in our hamburgers” if you know what I mean.
Question 5: What products do SMOKO do?
SMOKO provides an extensive range of Premium Electronic Cigarettes including Starter Packs, a massive range of flavoured cartridges in different nicotine strengths and great charging cases for our customers who prefer convenience, highest quality product and amazing vapour. We are also about to launch a brand new and exclusive range of Vapourizers and e-liquids for the more advance Vaper.
Our flavours range from Original, Virginia Rolling and Menthol – our core flavours. We also have Apple, Absinthe, Bananarama, Chocolate Milkshake, Energy, Havana, Roast Chicken (yes Roast Chicken – its amazing) and we have 4 new flavours coming out in the next few weeks – Coffee Kick with caffeine, Kola Kick with caffeine, Strawberry Breeze and Mint Breeze – really exciting additions to our great range.
Question 6: What are your best selling products?
Hands down our Original flavour which makes sense really. Not many people smoke Bananarama Flavours Marlboros do they? So people like the taste of their normal cigarette usually stick with the Original – great tobacco taste with a hint of Vanilla. Havana is growing in popularity – hard-core Cuban cigar connoisseurs love the taste! There is a real dedicated Absinthe fan base and a lot of customers from the middle east and Asia love the Apple.
And then we have some customers who we call the Rainbow group – they come in and get one of every flavour and mix it up – hence everything under the rainbow!
Question 7: Please tell me about the SMOKO brand and its name?
SMOKO is an antipidean term that started in Australia and means “have a cigarette break” or “have a tea break”. Ask any Aussie, Kiwi or South African and they will know what you mean when you say “let’s go for a SMOKO mate!”. I lived in Australia for almost 10 years and met my wife in Sydney so have a real affinity with the country, the people and the culture. SMOKO seemed like a great name for the brand as it encapsulates tradition and culture, spanning the world, universal in connotation and looks great on the pack!!
Question 8: The E Cigarette UK market is growing as more users take to using E Cigarettes, whats your predictions on the e cigarette market in the UK, where do you see it going?
E-cigarette use in the UK will only continue to grow as more and more people discover great brands like SMOKO and the alternative they have compared to their ciggies. Latest studies state over 2 million people in the UK currently use e-cigs so only 10 million more to convert!!
Question 9: How do you see the E Cig market developing around the world?
On a global scale the adoption of e-cigarettes will increase and soon surpass the consumption of normal cigarettes. As people become more aware of their health and start feeling financial pinch as the price of cigarettes increases, they will look to switch to something better. Obviously the best thing is for someone to quit…. But easier said than done for some people. And when people find a product they love, they tell all of their friends and family and then it spreads like wildfire! We have some great and loyal customers from all four corners of the world and have some great expansion plans into Europe and beyond later this year!
Question 10: There’s an awful lot of E Cigarette brands out there, what makes SMOKO different from the rest of them?
Our Flavours and E-Liquids are Made In The UK! Anyone concerned about their health and what they are putting in their bodies should not accept anything less than the best!
Question 11: Whats your view on the big tobacco brands buying E Cigarette brands, is this healthy for the industry as a whole?
Their revenues are down, they are losing market share and people are more and more aware of the harm that cigarettes and smoking causes, they need to join the growing trend. If it helps convert even more smokers to e-cigs than yes it is a good thing. If they are using this as a stepping stone to get people to use cigarettes than obviously not.
Question 13: Whats your biggest concerns for the E Cig industry as a whole?
Suggested regulation by governments going too far. If they make the testing and accreditation process too cumbersome and expensive, it will create an industry dominated by big Tobacco and Pharmaceutical companies and eliminate smaller boutique operators.
And dodgy operators who cut corners. They forget they are dealing with people’s lives here and should not rely on products or e-liquids that are not the best quality and thoroughly tested. That’s why we make our liquids here in the UK.
Question 14: Do you welcome tighter regulation?
Some regulation is necessary as it will stop one-man operations from mixing sub-par ingredients and then flogging it online and in market stalls. Or they use products that aren’t up to the necessary standards. That’s dangerous. But governments shouldn’t go too far and make it impossible for medium-sized businesses to operate and continue serving their customers.
Question 17: Whats your thoughts on the health implications to e cigarettes?
As I always say to my customers – quitting is the best thing. I still can’t believe that cigarettes are still sold in this day and age when we all know and governments all know and doctors and nurses all know that impact they have on the individual’s health and the society as a whole. If someone has not been able to kick the habit, they should then look at healthier alternative like SMOKO. I have seen the physical psychological changes in my customers when they start – it almost instant. Relief they have found something that works. And when they come back to us after the first week and they look healthier. They sound more confident. They stand with the shoulders back, their heads held high and a spring in their step. It is absolutely incredible. So health implications – switching to SMOKO is the most positive step someone can take.
Question 19: What do you think the common buyer is looking for when buying an e cigarette?
Quality. Quality of the flavours. Quality of the hardware. Quality of the vapour. People are fed-up with the cheap rubbish that is clogging up the shelves of retailers around the country. And people want a brand they can trust.
Question 20: What exciting things are you doing at SMOKO over the next 12 months?
Great new flavours and some exciting new product ranges are all under way. We are also looking to expand into new markets around the world to bring SMOKO to more people. We love to travel so maybe our expansion plans somehow will help to support our passion!
Question 21: And finally how can people find SMOKO do you have any store or a website?
We have a great website that accepts multiple currencies and we provide free shipping on UK orders over £40 and International orders over £100. We also have our own retail outlets in shopping centres around the UK. And in a few months you will see the brand in many retailers around the country!
We were certainly grateful for Mike Cameron doing this interview with us, if you would like to visit the SMOKO website then please Click here