Apart from the major tobacco dealers, the world of vape is not yet very prominent on the financial markets, yet the growth of the electronic cigarette market is very significant. How do you explain this? Do you think this type of operation will become widespread?
The stock exchange has remained a very specific universe that crystallizes fantasies in the minds of many. But the stock exchange is basically an institution that allows the oﬀer and the demand to be discussed. With a market like the vape market, which is fast becoming more and more professional every day (it is estimated by many independent organizations at more than 800 million euros in France), the initial public offering of a dealer like Kumulus Vape was basically inevitable. Above all, it will allow us to gain visibility and improve our brand image with the general public and institutions.
Kumulus Vape defends values of independence from the tobacco industry, which is omnipresent in the financial sector. Can being present on the financial markets also be considered as a symbol?
Yes, that is without a doubt! Our commitment to an independent vape industry has a long history. You will recall that we were the first french wholesaler – and as far as anyone is concerned, the only one still today – to decide not to market certain brands whose financial appetite is such that it weakens our entire sector. The presence of a dealer like Kumulus Vape on the financial markets is certainly a strong signal. Considered by some observers as an early market, the vape industry demonstrates its growing maturity. Its independence is not just a marketing formula. We are confident that our initial public offering will provide additional certainty for the vape experts. It is high time that the vape took its rightful place as the most secure defense against the assaults of tobacco.
Going public is also about making all your accounts public. How do you feel about that?
All around calmly! Our initial public offering is the aftereffect of a long process. To be qualified for a quotation, you must be transparent: all our accounts have been meticulously audited. The procedure also involves the use of auditors, as well as business lawyers. Going public is eventually just the climax of this energizing procedure that has empowered us gain incredible ground.
An IPO is also very expensive. Can you tell us more about it?
I do not wish to go into the details of these costs because they are confidential, but this type of operation generates a certain number of costs. However, the budget allocated to the IPO was within our reach. The initial public offering will also provide us with a new financing channel through the fundraising activities that we may undertake. This is a great opportunity to support our development.
When you are in the financial markets, simple rumours or a bad tweet can have serious consequences in the valuation of a security. Do you still have your Facebook accounts (smile)?
Our company’s results and each of our communications can directly impact our share price. But for us, it is the most beautiful challenge. I see it as a way of achieving the ambitions of excellence that have always been ours in the service of our partners and customers. In any case, we will play the game by being totally transparent with investors.
Kumulus had already raised private funds a few years ago. Are you looking for more today with this IPO and why?
We raised funds a few years ago in order to support our growth. This recently accelerated our project to move to new warehouses on the outskirts of Lyon, with a total surface area of 2600m2. Manufacturers, specialized stores… We all see how fast the vape is progressing, and this growth can sometimes take us by surprise! Which vape shop manager didn’t tear his hair out to make room for a new brand of eliquid? If Kumulus Vape is to raise funds in the future, it will be exclusively to invest in the service of its partners and customers and to improve the quality of the service we owe them.
How did your bank take the news?
Beyond the initial surprise, it was trust that quickly dominated our exchanges. And to keep in mind the balance of power that was at work at the time of Kumulus Vape’s birth, I can tell you that it feels good!
Can we as individuals buy Kumulus shares? If so, how much does it cost? Will your employees obtain financial benefits of this nature?
Like any of the shares outstanding on the market, Kumulus Vape’s share can be purchased by an individual who believes in our project and more generally in vape. As our company’s results are now public, it is up to each individual to form their own opinion on this valuation. On the other hand, I personally wanted to involve each of our employees in this wonderful adventure: they are now my associate employees. For me, it was essential.
A market capitalization can have a significant influence on the executive’s morale depending on its variations during the year. Trading partners may also perceive this as an indicator of good or poor health. Are you afraid of the consequences this may have for the development of society?
Unfortunately, we do not have control over the future, and the risks are as real as in any other area. All our work has precisely been to identify, measure and limit its risks. If it is ambitious, our project keeps its feet on the ground, and of course, it is today the feeling of confidence that prevails in us, and also all those who have had to know the details of our project. Since 2012, Kumulus Vape has been built on the values of work and constant questioning. It is obviously not now that we are listed on the stock exchange that this will change!
It is often said that, as a society grows, it becomes more dehumanized. Do you think you are in this situation?
With 22 employees (and certainly many recruitments in progress!), we are still far from being a dehumanized multinational! Our team is growing steadily and the family nature of our company has never been questioned. I believe that this is also what appeals to the specialized stores we work with. We devote an increasing part of our work to ensuring the well-being of our teams because I am firmly convinced that a successful team is the best guarantee of an efficient job. Our CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) strategy goes beyond this alone, the well-being of Kumulus Vape’s teams, and our commitments to the protection of the environment are now very numerous.
The global economic situation is extremely fragile nowadays, a crisis much greater than that of the subprimes of 2008 is expected. Are you afraid of deliberately placing yourself in the middle of the next fire?
Saying without hesitation the imminent arrival of a stock market earthquake is risky. A market by definition fluctuates and no one can predict the future. In the current economic context, we have no choice but to move forward. The most important thing is to do your best honestly, respecting your values and your loved ones.
Compliments are welcome in such an event. The entire Vaping Post team wishes you every success and looks forward to seeing an independent player grow even more in the face of tobacco.