Entrepreneur who started vaping business at 16 makes his first million

Interview | Retail

Business Leader recently sat down with Fred Cassman, the founder and director of Brighton-based vaping company, MIST. Fred started the business at just 16 years old, and has now grown the business to achieve revenues in excess of £1m.

Fred speaks to Business Leader about the growth of the sector, starting the business as a teenager, and what the future holds for vaping.

Can you give me an overview of MIST?

My main focus with MIST is primarily to offer the best available products on the market to consumers.

The vaping industry is highly competitive, and countless products are released every month. This can be very difficult to navigate and understand, especially for new users who ultimately don’t know where to start.

The team at MIST conduct extensive product research and choose the best products on the market to offer our customers; from beginners to seasoned vapers.

We have also taken every care to make our website incredibly easy to use, so that our customers can find the right products, whatever their vaping needs are. This is something we are constantly evolving.

What inspired you to start your entrepreneurial journey at just 16-years-old?

I was always coming up with new ideas and schemes to make money, starting by selling stuff on eBay. I think the first step example of this was when I started trading Pokemon cards! My family have always supported the notion that you should enjoy what you do and have a sense of freedom whilst doing it – so I think that’s where my desire to run my own business comes from.

How would you describe the growth of the company?

The growth has really been phenomenal, going from strength to strength, and it all started in online forums.

I organised a bulk order, offering forum users very competitive, wholesale prices, and took a commission of around 10%. The result of which was an extremely attractive PayPal balance – especially for a 16 year old! This was the money I used to start importing products myself. I set up an eBay shop, and promoted it across all the forums I was a member of and the business was born. I had no idea that this was the start of something so successful.

What have been the main challenges in your growth?

The products we sell contain nicotine, which means we’re not allowed to do any paid advertising. So our biggest challenge is finding innovative ways to grow without the luxury of paid advertising. We are currently focussing on creating valuable and informative content for our customers. Due to the competitive nature of the industry, everything we do has to be excellent, and stand out against the competition.

How would you describe the current state of the vaping market?

The market is constantly growing. As the amount of people quitting smoking increases, so does the amount of people turning to vaping. This also increases the competition, especially online as there is a new vape website popping up almost every day.

The quality of products is also constantly improving, which means we have to stay on top of the game to continue to be a front runner in the industry.

Where do you see the industry evolving over the next five years?

Now that innovation has slowed down, products are starting to get better and more robust. I think the need for a brick-and-mortar vape shop will get less and less as more quality vaping kits become available at your local newsagent.

The market will always be there for niche products, but I think the amount of players in the industry will reduce to just a handful of strong brands.

What does the future hold for MIST?

I would like to see MIST products sold at local newsagents. It’s a dream to have something that helps so many people quit smoking, be as readily available to them as cigarettes are.

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