A Discussion – Triple 7’s Paul Lowenthal and Spinfuel’s John Manzione
When 777 eCigs became a sponsor of Spinfuel eMagazine, way back in 2012, they were a much smaller company. We stumbled across their website one day while searching various cig-a-like brands. We took notice because unlike every other cig-a-like brand there wasn’t a single declaration of a fake claim anywhere to be found. That in itself was rare, so we made contact with 777 and asked if we could review their cig-a-like starter kits.
We liked their batteries, loved their custom-crafted e liquids, 16 flavors back then, and we certainly liked their prices. We didn’t exactly love the colors of the batteries, or the glossy painted metal finishes, and we said so. Instead of reacting like some of the other brands we had been critical of during that time, ( and one in particular tried to drive us out of business) they appreciated our honesty. From that point on we built a solid foundation of trust and mutual respect.
Over the past two years 777 eCigs has grown from a company that offered three different cig-a-like starter kits to one that now carries a vast line of larger, more powerful vape gear, including the Bullet and Magnum series, all built to their specs and bearing the 777 logo. This month they made the biggest move yet; they enlarged their product line to include several of the biggest names in electronic cigarettes.
Tens of thousands of vapers have become loyal customers of 777 eCigs because Paul and the rest of the team are just as loyal to their customers as their customers are to them. Great customer service, liberal return and exchange policies, and always fair pricing, have always been a part of their business practices. Oh, and some of the best prefilled cartomizers and bottled flavors of e liquid and e shisha out there. If you haven’t tried their Italian crème e liquid yet, you’re missing a great flavor.
When Paul informed me that 777 eCigs was to launch a full line of vape gear, including products from Innokin, Kanger, and others, I suggested that we get together and talk about it. I told Paul that our readers would enjoy this kind of success story, not to mention knowing that there is a vendor out there with a stellar reputation, who knows the business inside and out, and now offers terrific vape gear for every type of vaper. He agreed, and over the course of the past couple of months we exchanged emails when he had the time, and together they form a pretty extensive interview, which I’ve included below.
Upon first finding out what Paul and his team planned to do, I had to ask him why. Why would 777 eCigs decide, now, to expand their product line outside the normal 777 branded products?
PAUL: We received many customer inquiries about these products. We decided to test them, determined that they were quality products and added them our product line. The vaping industry changes so fast with new product design it seems we are always trying to catch up with current products. It takes us time to launch a new product due to testing and researching a specific product before we offer it to our customers.
To be honest I was concerned that making such a big move into other product lines could threaten their current 777 branded products, cannibalize them maybe. So I asked Paul about this.
PAUL: We feel the new mods are what many customers are looking for after making the switch to vaping. They start with the 808 standard batteries and they slowly progress to the (777) Bullets series then the (777) Magnum series right up to our mini Lambo’s and so on.
I speak for myself as well. I also made this same transition from cartridges to larger mods and tanks. The truth is if you don’t have a product for a customer, they will purchase what they want somewhere else. We want to keep our customers happy and our customers know that if we offer a product, without a doubt, it will be the best quality available today. There are a lot of companies selling cheap subpar products that can turn people off from making the switch to eCigarettes, so we wanted to do everything we could to prevent that.
While I will still, at certain times, reach for a cig-a-like instead of grabbing my usual hardware, they are products I rarely use anymore. I asked Paul what part the cig-a-likes will play in overall scheme of things as they are moving forward.
PAUL: I feel the standard 808 (cig-a-like) style kits and batteries are an important step for someone making the switch for eCigs. Most people don’t jump right into the larger mods, and I say this referring to conventional cigarette smokers looking for a product to replace their current smoking habits.
There can be no doubt that 777 eCigs has had great success with both their smaller cig-a-like kits and their larger ones, like the Bullet and the Magnum. Both series are selling well because they offer a bigger vape experience for not that much more than a regular cig-a-like. Was the success based on the low price of these bigger mods, or the quality of the vape, or the quality of the products themselves? I asked Paul if he knew what factors played into the success of these products.
PAUL: I think that it is a combination of all three. We designed our Magnum series with our manufacturer and it is a great product. We are currently in production with a dual coil magnum tanks that we should have in the next few weeks after final testing.
Since the Magnum was a product designed by the 777 team I wondered why Paul and company never bothered to tell their customers that their products are exclusive to 777, designed or heavily tweaked by them, and built by their manufacturers. Maybe vapers naturally assume that to be true for all brands, not knowing that the hundreds of brands in the cig-a-like world are simply rebranded, standard batteries and cartomizers made by just a few Chinese manufacturers, with different brand logos printed on them.
There aren’t many companies that can afford to do custom design or make major modifications, and even fewer would believe it was worth the expense. For Paul and the others at 777, this is way they do business, and it’s why, in my opinion, they have become such a successful e cigarette brand.
I then asked Paul if 777 eCigs wanted to keep their own, branded products like the Bullet, Magnum, and even their cig-a-like starter kits front and center, or if they were going to try and mesh their product line into one big catalog. In other words, were the Innokin, Kanger, et al, products there to serve a small part of their customer base, or were they jumping in with both feet.
And, even through all of that, I somehow had completely forgotten about their biggest product, the 777 e-Hookah. I don’t use the Hookah we have here very often anymore, but Tom and his girlfriend are the big fans of e-Hookahs and use it weekly.
PAUL: There is an exception, the hookah smokers who are switching from hookahs to the larger mods without the need for smaller eCig style batteries, they are more interested in the amount of vapor and flavor and many of them have only used conventional tobacco hookahs and are switching to larger mods with drip tanks which we are currently working on now.
At this point we started talking about how large a number of products 777 was now carrying. I asked Paul if he knew the number of products they had in their inventory.
PAUL: Sometimes I feel too many! LOL! Take cars for example, you go to a dealer ship and they don’t offer just one or two models, instead they offer the customer many different models. Everyone has their own likes and dislikes and if the customer does not see what they like they move on to the next company. We are working on having Triple Seven offer products to cover the majority of people’s electronic smoking needs.
Because the mini-Lambo Triple 7 sells is a branded Lambo, with the 777 logo on it, I had to ask Paul if this was something they were going to do with all the new products, or just a select few.
PAUL: We work with several manufacturers on new products. L-Rider had contacted us regarding the mini Lambo. We had them make some vital changes to their design before we would go into full production with it and put the 777 eCigs name on the it. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great product on its own, but before we could slap our name on it, we needed changes that made it even better. And it does, and it is.
Another example is our T-4 tank (clearomizer). Within 2 minutes of receiving the samples I knew I did not like the drip tip. The standard drip tip was held in place by an O-ring, and all I could see was the drip tip popping off in your pocket, leaking e-Liquid all over your legs. We couldn’t offer something like that to our customers, so changes had to be made.
We sketched out a new design with the drip tip so that it had a new threaded design in order to eliminate the potential for the dip top from accidently coming off. Now our design of the T-4 is the industry standard.
Not many companies are going to take the time, money and effort we do to offer customers a better product. Our new design T-4 is now sold by most companies, including V2.
PAUL: I know, I know. The next question is ‘why does everyone else sell our design?’ The design change was small one but it was an important one but it was not worth trying to police any sort of patent protection. The time and the money spent on this small change is well worth it to us, knowing our customers won’t have to worry about liquid leaking in their purses or pockets. If other companies benefited from it, and they have, well, that’s good for the industry as a whole.
It is exactly things like this that made 777 eCigs stand out back in 2012 when we were investigating all those cig-a-like brands. A lot of this information was never discussed before, and the humility is just a part of who they are. Perhaps now people will have a better understanding of why we’ve been standing behind Triple 7 as staunchly as we have.
I decided to ask Paul about something I’ve never really addressed with him before. I’ve written about it, Julia, Tom, and I think even Jason has written about it. And that is the honesty, and the generosity, that Triple 7 has, not to mention their unwillingness to dump a bunch of hyperbole, faked graphics and false taglines on their website like so many others do.
You’ll never see words like “Best #1.” “Voted #1 Best eCig” or any of that nonsense so many others partake in. I felt it was time to get Paul on the record about why they never went down that road. His answer might surprise you.
PAUL: Anyone can state they are number #1 but the real test is if whether or not their customers return and continue buying their product.
I feel the quality of a company’s product ultimately determine how long a company will last, or if they’ll succeed in this fast paced eCig industry. What does ‘number one’ really mean anyway? The most sales? The best customer reviews? I don’t know, and they don’t know. A company can claim to be #1 but claims are just talk. Time tells the tale. Which companies are the top contenders in the eCig industry now, and which ones will be the top contenders a year, two, three or five years down the road? Triple 7 is in it for long term, we’re not out to make a fast buck and disappear.
On the topic of Affiliate based websites, and commissions, Paul made it clear he has definite standards that he, and the company, live by.
PAUL: We have had affiliates (people that sell Triple 7 through website links) contact us on many occasions telling us that if we increase their affiliate commission rate, they would place Triple Seven higher in their rankings.
We never have and never will pay them to do this! We have had to drop affiliates due to these tactics, and others that just go against our morals and how we want to do business, and we just don’t waste our time with them. I think affiliates are important to the eCig industry; they give users or smokers considering making the switch eCigarettes some useful information before making a purchase. But we’re not going to allow an affiliate to misstate the facts, we’re just not.
And there you have it folks.
Just as we have said for the past two years, over and over, and facing some tough criticism for saying it I might add, many of those affiliate websites out there that rank the best e-cigarettes do so not because they really believe it, or that these brands were put through any sort of real testing, but because of their commission structures. What the website owners are telling these brands is this “Increase my commission rate and I’ll tell people you are the best e-cigarette.” while some shady e-cigarette companies tell websites “We’ll increase your commission if you place our brand at the top of your list”… Ask Smokenjoey about this, he’ll vouch for the truth of it. But Triple 7 won’t play those games, and never has.
No, Paul didn’t say every affiliate site, and maybe some don’t play this way. But many do, and it flies in the face of everything we here at Spinfuel eMagazine believe, and what 777 eCigs believe as well. The next time you visit one of those sites you need to remember what Paul just said.
I know there are still some people on certain message boards that believe we have affiliate deals with companies, despite our going public that we do not. I’ve even publicly stated that if any sponsor or any company we’ve ever reviewed wants to go on record and talk about any ‘deals’ we’ve made with them, they are free to do so. The simple fact is that sometimes companies can be completely transparent because there is nothing to hide. It is a practice that we abhor, and would never do. Period.
And, if you’ve ever wondered why Spinfuel eMagazine never works with affiliate programs before, now, or in the future, well, now you can see why. It is ugly.
Getting back to our conversations, I asked Paul one day about Innokin. We really like many of the Innokin iTaste products, and I said to Paul that picking Innokin up was a great idea.
PAUL: Innokin is a quality product for sure and when we decided to offer larger mods, we know they offer quality products and we feel some of their designs are pretty cool as well.
I had a question for Paul about 777 eCigs e liquid and e shisha and I now had the opportunity to bring it up, so I did. Every time we reviewed their various e liquid flavors we would get email from readers asking us what the difference was between e liquid and e shisha. Honestly, we just told them that in our experience e shisha had a stronger flavor profile, and that was about it. If there were other differences we didn’t know. Turns out we had it right.
PAUL: This has been an ongoing question and to answer your question we are considering rebranding our e-shisha to our e-liquid line. People in the hookah industry know what the e-Shisha is about but the eCig industry has had confusion about what e-Shisha is. Our e-Shisha line is basically enhanced e-Liquid meaning more flavor with an 80% PG and 20% VG ratio while our e-Liquid line is 100% PG. We currently have 43 flavors. Most flavors offer 0, 6, 12, and 18mg of nicotine and some flavors are available in 24mg.
100% PG! No wonder the throat hit with every flavor is so powerful. If you have any reaction to PG you will not want to vape Triple 7 juice, that’s for sure.
The 777 e Hookah is the most popular e Hookah on the market, and hookah fans have contacted us often to see if we could give them our opinion on how an electronic hookah compares to the regular, tobacco hookah. I have no idea, I’ve never smoked a tobacco hookah . I asked Paul if the e Hookah was still a hot product for them.
PAUL: The e-Hookah has been interesting ride. Sales have always been like a roller coaster. It took some time for them to take to the market but the hookah industry is a lot smaller than the eCig industry. We currently have them everywhere from hookah lounges to strip clubs. Anyone looking to be tobacco free even with hookah, this is the best alternative for them. Others have come out with e-Hookahs but they don’t compare to the Triple Seven design with the longest 2200mAH battery life. Being able to vape two flavors with a 2200mAh battery will give the consumer hours of vaping, so that has helped put it on the map, for sure.
Changing topics to e liquids, one of Triple 7’s newest, and best tasting, e liquids is their RY7. I asked Paul about it. His answer was:
PAUL: Our new RY7 in my opinion taste the closest to a conventional cigarette ever. We wanted to offer a new flavor that we feel would be popular universally. I think we did just that.
We are currently working on some new flavors to replace some of our not-so-popular flavors. We hope to have available in the next couple of months.
I wondered if Triple 7 spent an equal amount of time developing their e shisha and e liquid.
PAUL: I would say we spend more time on e-Shisha due to the enhanced flavors. We spent a lot of time launching our 24 e-Shisha flavors at once and we are just now looking at new flavors to add. As mentioned previously, we are considering consolidating all flavors to Triple 7 e-liquid to avoid the questions regarding e-Shisha.
I wanted to touch on the subject of Triple 7’s reputation in the vape community, and why we never get emails from people who were unhappy with a 777 product that we gave a positive review for. I think Paul hit it right on the head when he said this:
PAUL: It starts with a quality product that relieves a lot of customer service complaints. We stand behind our product and if a customer has a product that has stopped working within the warranty period we gladly replace it. You won’t get any kind of a run-around; we don’t make it difficult to return, we want our customers to be happy customers, and continue to be loyal customers. You can’t maintain that when you attempt to make your customers jump through hoops when it comes to refunds and returns.
Next up was whether or not people in the UK and elsewhere are able to shop the 777 eCig online store. Worldwide shipping is a definite plus for any vendor.
PAUL: We do ship out of the country but we have been experiencing a lot of problems with Canadian Customs. Some areas of Canada do not allow the import of nicotine and we have customers that get upset with us when they don’t receive their order. We don’t have any control over the matter. We are currently not shipping to Canada to avoid these issues. As for other countries we are evaluating the long-term goal. We want to do it, we want to maintain our worldwide shipping option, but the countries have to cooperate. When they don’t, it’s out of our hands.
I also wanted to know where Paul and company saw Triple 7 in 5 years time, but before I could that we had to talk a little about the overall regulations that are starting to emerge on the city and state level, and soon the entire US. This is what Paul said about the FDA and regulation.
PAUL: That is a good question. The FDA will come up with some guidelines and/or regulations but I think they don’t have enough data to conclude what the end result will be. We have always posted our ingredients on our website and base ingredients on each liquid bottle. We have changed our liquid bottles to have the lot and batch numbers also. I feel we definitely need some type of regulation, which unfortunately could also include regulation that is not necessary. All states and counties need to mandate 18 and older for any eCig products, Triple Seven is very much against under age use of any eCig products.
As for where Paul saw Triple 7 in the years ahead he shared this…
PAUL: We plan to be a household name in the eCig industry and look forward to all the new products and future technology changes.
But what about retail? Any plans to get into the retail end of the industry?
PAUL: We have been focusing on wholesale distribution, we are currently distributing throughout the US and we are receiving great feedback from our wholesaler’s. We have been spending a lot of time on wholesale distribution this past year. We are uncertain what the future will hold for online sales so we are diversifying our products through all channels with the end result giving our customers easy access to Triple Seven quality products.
So, that seems to be a no. No plans on venturing into the retail end of the market….
Finally, I asked Paul about any future projects he could take about now…
PAUL: We are working on a USA-made mod and several new flavors. We want our customers to know that if Triple Seven is selling it; they can be rest assured, it’s a quality product. We take pride in the Triple Seven name and look forward to what the future brings to the eCig industry.
And that was the final part of our long conversation. Just as I had expected, Paul was very open and honest about what Triple 7 is all about, and how they see things. Their worldview is a lot like our own worldview. Honesty, transparency, quality, fairness, Karma.
I’ve known Paul for almost 2 years now, and he has shared a lot with me over that time. Getting early access to new products, inside information on what’s coming down the pike, and just staying in touch, it’s been a real pleasure to know someone like him in an industry rife with dishonest people, poor quality products, and other kinds of ugliness.
I hope you enjoyed getting to know more about Triple 7, and I hope you’ve learned a lot about them, and how things are done in this industry. It is definitely not an easy industry to succeed in, not in the long term anyway. But, as long as you put out a quality product, stand behind it, and refuse to make claims that are untrue, you can make it. Triple 7 is all the proof you need that sometimes the good guys win.
I would like to thank Paul for taking time out of his very busy schedule to talk with me, and Spinfuel. Here’s to a long and happy association!