I Quit the Corporate Grind to Sell Vaporizers Out of My Trunk
How much sense would it make to quit the C-suite to write your ticket selling vaporizers? To an Iranian-Canadian immigrant, lots.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because if people are going to smoke, they might as well do so as discreetly as possible.
Nima Noori, CEO, TVape
I woke up between 7 and 7:30 a.m. Without an alarm because I don’t believe in being woken up, I believe in waking up. Then I made juice with my juicer. I’m pretty religious about that. Then to the gym, and a jog by the water. I go to the office after. And if I go to lunch at all after that, I go to Freshii because while I don’t like meat, I am a flexitarian.
You know, I used to be an investment banker, so when I left to go into vaporizers, most people that I knew thought that I had gone rogue. My brother was the only person who took me seriously from the beginning, and he’s now my chief product officer. At one point, I was trying to sell half the business for $50,000 because I needed the cash. A few days before the deal was supposed to go through though, the other party called and started renegotiating the price.
He thought I was asking too much, and he was trying to lowball me. As a matter of principle, I don’t renegotiate a deal that’s been agreed upon. So, I just refused the whole deal. I just didn’t think they were going to be a good business partner if they couldn’t stay true to their word. We laugh about this deal now because I said no to something despite being very desperate. But you shouldn’t make deals out of desperation. So, I stopped chasing money.
But, you know, I’ve got a degree in business administration, management and finance from the University of Toronto, and vaporizers were more convenient, discreet, less harmful than smoke and cheaper than herbs since they consume less. At the time, this seemed like a product that sold itself. But they’re very much like cars. Based on the feature set, vaporizers are good in some areas and bad in some others.
I used to sell vaporizers out of my car during my lunch breaks when I worked at Cadillac back in 2009.
You know, my father once built a very small building that took three years to finish, and in the process he ended up losing a ton of money. He built it in a very, very low-income neighborhood. He put in fireplaces, marble in the bathrooms and installed state-of-the-art kitchen cabinets. My father is not a businessman; he is an orthodontist. My mom, on the other hand, would have been a better businesswoman and is a wicked negotiator.
I once walked out of a store because I felt so embarrassed about the price she wanted to pay for a pair of shoes. Five minutes later, she walked out with the shoes. I feel like a lot of children from immigrant parents will sympathize with my decision to walk out of the store and let my mom do her thing. Nonetheless, it was a great lesson because I realized that I had to ask for things in order to get them. My mom manages my dad’s office now.
Although my father was a doctor, we weren’t a typical, wealthy family either. We left Iran when I was 6 years old and moved to Germany as refugees. My parents had to start from the bottom while raising me, my older sister and my younger brother. My dad never got his license to practice in Germany, so he was doing odd jobs. Life wasn’t always easy, but as the saying goes: Be thankful for the hard times, for they have made you.
So at the beginning, I got rejected from many places and was doing business with people who didn’t take me seriously. But I believe that people are the masters of their own fate, so I just kept trying. Oh, I also don’t have to-do lists; I just start doing and don’t stop until work gets done. I think if I run fast enough, people have a hard time catching up anyway. Other CEOs may work differently, but then again, it’s about how much fun I have, not some academically conceived rule book. And so, after starting the business on a credit card with a $2,000 limit, I now have 30-plus employees and contractors, and we’re making close to seven figures in revenue. Just on vaporizers.
Which is pretty cool when I remember that I used to sell vaporizers out of my car during my lunch breaks when I worked at Cadillac back in 2009. I’m 34 now and still want things to be fun, which this is. So right now, I’m obsessed with finding a hedgehog concept. When a hedgehog is threatened, it rolls into a ball. In that rolled-up state, the hedgehog is impenetrable. I need to develop this hedgehog defense mechanism for our vaporizer business.
When I do this, I can focus a bit more on experiencing life itself. Maybe some more strategy gaming, travel, yoga, chess, meditation or basketball. As a childhood refugee, I need stability, and that can be seen in why I care about happiness so much.
So my day really doesn’t start and end like it does for other people. I love what I do, so to me it is my day. I don’t really feel like I am working or not working when I do other things. People say that there should be a work-life balance, or you should keep the two separate. I believe that loving what you do and doing what you love can coexist without an artificial separation. The people who have to separate life and work should find work they truly love instead.