Bringing A Sleek Aesthetic To a Once-Funky Industry

With no foreknowledge of the product, one might open the box for the PAX 3 expecting to find an iPhone.  That’s because the latest product from PAX Labs has all the trimmings of an Apple invention, from its glossy white packaging to the actual unit’s Bluetooth-pairing technology. The small details are nearly identical, and in the larger sense, both are ultimately computers, albeit with very different purposes.

While its not uncommon for hardware companies in the cannabis industry to speak in terms of “loose leaf” and “concentrate,” PAX Labs CEO Tyler Goldman seems acutely interested in aligning his product with the likes of Facebook and Google and away from the flowers that virtually all of his customers will smoke with it.

“It’s aspirational for us,” Goldman says when asked of the Apple comparisons. “Who wouldn’t want to be compared to Apple?”

Goldman’s background crosses a myriad of sectors. He’s previously served as the CEO of the web property BUZZMEDIA, worked with the founding team at Movielink, and prior to joining PAX was the music-streaming service Deezer’s CEO of North America.

He says his interest in teaming up with PAX wasn’t about what goes inside the units, but about the industry in which it exists. When Goldman first joined PAX Labs earlier this year, he saw a market where smoking was still mostly a “rolling up a leaf and lighting it on fire” enterprise, but he saw an opportunity to change that with PAX.

While PAX Labs is currently celebrating the launch of two new products — the aforementioned PAX 3 and a liquid focused apparatus dubbed PAX Era — the comparisons with the company Steve Jobs built started before Goldman ever came aboard. PAX has stood out in the crowded market of personal vaporizers for emphasizing sleek aesthetics and ease of use since they initially released the original PAX in 2012.

PAX 3 by PAX Labs is scheduled for release in November. (Courtesy of PAX Labs)

PAX 3 by PAX Labs is scheduled for release in November. (Courtesy of PAX Labs)

The company has grown quite a lot since it first began in 2004 when Stanford design master’s program students Adam — and James met and completed a thesis that two years later would become Ploom and ultimately PAX.  Touches like brushed-metal finishes, colored lights, and technological innovations led to sales of more than 500,000 units of their first vaporizer by 2015.

Later that year, the PAX 2 hit the market, and now, the third generation is set to be released in November. The selling points for the PAX 3 include three different oven types, including one built from the ground up specifically for concentrates, as well as the ability to pair the unit to a smartphone app that allows for complete control over settings and the ability to remember and recall the specifications of your favorite sessions.

For Goldman, the new features of the PAX 3 speak to consumer demand not just in the vaporizer category but also in the larger technology sector.

I don’t think this market is really any different from others,” he says. “Consumers want great functionality, ease of use, reliability, and they want to be surprised and impressed. I think that we’ve done a good job on all of those fronts.”

In addition, PAX Labs released the PAX Era in late September, which Goldman calls “a game-changer” in the field of vaporizers designed specifically for oils and concentrates. The consumer research PAX Labs did for the product revealed that many of the devices on the market were little more than repurposed e-cigarettes, with little regard given to heat sensitivity or factors such as leakage. With PAX Era, the company has created a closed-circuit system where customers can purchased Era pods pre-filled with cannabis oil from partners Bloom Farms in California and the Lab in Colorado.

Goldman compares the Era to a Keurig coffee machine and the K-Cups designed to go with it.

We’re looking at lots of different customers and customers can come in all shapes, sizes, and materials. If you look at why Keurig has been successful, it’s because in addition to offering a great experience, users will find they can choose want they want with a Keurig device.”

Based in San Francisco, PAX Labs is a company that may see the value of its location more rooted in its proximity to the innovation goldmine of Silicon Valley than anything specific to the myriad of cannabis industry heavyweights also residing in Northern California. Goldman says that PAX Labs are competing with Google, Facebook, and Twitter for engineers.

It’s a dot-com world, and PAX Labs is living in it. While their customers may cherish the product for what it offers in terms of cannabis consumption, the company has bigger things in sight.

“We’re a part of that ecosystem,” he adds. “We just happen to be in the vapor side of the business.”