Artisan Vapor Company: How three friends built a global brand together before 30

“Be calculated about [business opportunities and decisions] but don’t let them bog you down. If you miss the boat, you miss the boat,” Co-founder and director at The Artisan Vapor Company, Umair Abbas Kaimkhani, had not planned to build a global vaping business, which includes manufacturing of hardware and liquids.

Before launching Artisan Vapor Company in 2012, Kaimkhani and his two friends – Raja Khan and Muhammad Abbas Khan – were serial entrepreneurs in North Texas dabbling in small businesses, including a yogurt shop, restaurant, and tattoo shop. “We would start a business for 40 or 50,000 dollars, and sell it for 200,000 dollars. And we were learning every single day.”

It was not until the trio helped out a friend with his vape shop, did they recognise the business potential in the electronic cigarette industry in the US, with more people moving away from smoking tobacco. After seeing the quick success of a 700-square-foot shop in downtown Plano (Texas), Kaimkhani and his crew sold off all their other business.

They eventually started a franchise, first in the US, and then other places, including cities in Pakistan. “Six months into [entering the business], we had six shops operating under the same name in Dallas,” says Kaimkhani.

Apart from retail, their vape journey took them to China, where they set up a factory for hardware, giving them an advantage in the US and European markets. The company also manufactures liquids in Irving, Texas, thus achieving vertical integration in the industry.

The 32-year-old credits his success to his partnership with Raja and Abbas, who have been friends since school days. “We’re sitting on our 20th business together, and we still trust each other and believe in each other.”

They were three friends who constantly picked up the slack for each other – something Kaimkhani feels is rare in cultures like the US, where a lot of people are trying to make it on their own. “The support we [gave] each other was phenomenal.”

The goal for Artisan Vapor Company, which has grown remarkably thanks to successful partnerships, is to spin after Big Tobacco and move on.

As far as his personal goals go, Kaimkhani – who’s based in Dallas, plans to move back to Pakistan and have an impact here. “Growing up, I always wanted to give back to Pakistan.”

Originally, from a small town in Sindh, Tando Allahyar, Kaimkhani went to Aitchison College in Lahore, where he studied with co-founder Abbas Khan, and then went on to study at Ohio Wesleyan (Ohio), and UT Arlington in Texas.

For now, he has his eyes set on opening up a Tennis academy, as he feels strongly about the potential of one-person sports here. “God willing, in my lifetime, or your lifetime, you will see a Tennis star coming out of Pakistan.”

Watch our interview recorded last year, and learn how the passionate entrepreneur along with his friends and other partners, achieved vertical integration in the electronic cigarette industry and built one of the largest vape retailers in the US.

Kaimkhani’s most recent read: Confessions of An Economic Hitman by John Perkins


Correction: The video misstates Kaimkhani’s age as 30 years old.