It's not often you get to interview a nuclear engineer and a physician who run a tiny vaporizer factory out of an oversized garage outside of San Francisco so today is your lucky day. Two weeks ago we spent some time with the guys from Thermovape, a homegrown, self-funded hardware company that just happens to produce some of the coolest and most effective vaporizers I've seen.
For the uninitiated, the product is called the Thermo Essence Thermovape, a smoking cessation tool and “botanical vaporizer.” It's designed for vaporizing the essentials out of botanicals like pot and tobacco as well as and oils. It's not smoking – the convection vaporizer pulls everything important out of the materials, leaving behind desiccated leaves.
Founded by best buds Noah Minskoff and Nathan Terry, the company has about ten employees, including a pro machinist. The pair turned to vaporizers when they saw that the market was wide open. More importantly, Noah's mother died of lung cancer and he was looking for a simple way to help people stop smoking. The Thermovape offers the nicotine dosage of a cigarette without the carcinogenic byproducts.
Whatever your take on drug use, these guys are real hardware entrepreneurs on a mission. They are completely self-reliant and haven't accepted any funding, partially because the VC world is wary of these sorts of businesses. But, as Minskoff pointed out, this isn't a bong factory. It's a precision machine shop that uses some amazingly complex and expensive tools to make a product that lasts.
You can see how the pair work on their vapes in this episode of Makers and look for more hardware startups coming up in the next few weeks. If you have something cool you want to show us, don't forget to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line MAKERS.