We’re sorry for being tight-lipped in recent weeks–we wanted to be absolutely, positively certain everything was in good working order before making any announcements or proclamations. Thankfully, that time is now, and we come bearing great news.
We’re excited to announce that shipping and production are already underway as you read this. It sure feels good to be letting you know that we’re already shipping, i.e. after the fact, for a change 🙂
We’re chipping away sizable chunks off our list of supporters and pre-sales customers, which means many of you will be getting a direct email from us soon, if you haven’t already. These emails are being sent to individual supporters and customers as soon as their Lux reaches our fulfilment center. The email is very important, so please keep an eye out for it (including in your Junk Email folder, just in case), and do read it carefully. If you were a later supporter, please remain patient: you’ll be notified eventually.
We have a long list of people to get to, and thus, a lot of work to do. We just ask that you please stay patient with us while we work diligently to fulfill ALL units to ALL supporters over the next three (and hopefully no more than four) months. Our small team is working night and day to get Luxes off the line and into your hands and no supporter will be left behind–or else a member from our team will be picked at random for periodic sacrifice to the Shipping Gods until we’ve succeeded. J/k (maybe).
Happy Holidays to all our friends and loyal supporters. We hope 2017 was an amazing year for you all.
For many, including us here at Loto Labs, it’s been a roller coaster ride, full of surprises and changes. We had to keep many of you waiting while we worked out a number of time-consuming issues in manufacturing, and we’re very sorry it’s taken so long. While nothing would have been nicer for us as a company than to have had the Lux ready the holidays, things just weren’t there yet.
Fortunately, we’ve tackled all manufacturing issues. The Lux’s mechanical redesign was well-worth it. The mouthpiece is vastly improved, as is the magnetic fitment. After tweaks to the metal body design, which were finalized and approved in early December, hundreds of units have now being poured and casted, in prep to arrive at their new homes in a few weeks.
Thankfully, we can end this year with the certainty of knowing the Loto Lux is mass manufacturable, and with a number of happy customers and supporters having already received their special units as we lead up to mass shipping.
Despite all the obstacles and headaches, the year is ending on a high note for our team. We’re humbled by the experiences of the past few months, but take solace in knowing that hundreds of customers, fans, and supporters will be starting 2018 with the incomparable Loto Lux in their arsenals.
We will have an epic update ready for you at the end of January. It’s all coming together…
For now, please enjoy your holiday and New Year’s celebrations, wherever you are. And, please be safe. We’ll be seeing you in 2018.
“It’s called Hardware, not ‘Easyware’,” said a brilliant person who learned this the hard way.
To our friends and supporters,
Well, it’s Halloween, and we are finishing retooling our new mouthpieces. We began fulfilling again this week (with less fanfare) using CNC machined components. Many a human will be getting their units over the next few days and weeks.
We wanted to thank all of you who applied or participated in our Beta Testing, or even those who didn’t, but who have nevertheless been so understanding and patient with us while we get all the kinks worked out for mass production. You’ve helped us out so much, and we couldn’t feel luckier to have you guys in our corner.
As many of you know, we’ve taken advantage of this time to make a lot of improvements. Not to mention, we’d be having a tougher time right now if we hadn’t readjusted a few things. It was a bummer, but, as many can attest, we are in better shape for it.
What lifts our spirits is knowing that the improvements made to our mouthpiece fitment and capsule system are going to make the Lux second to none.
Here’s a quick summary of what’s been accomplished in the past two months: we changed our metal-clip-mouthpiece fitment to a magnetic one. This was badly needed. The resulting seal is much more precise, stable, and does a better job assuring the top-quality experience. This also helps us avoid a major bottleneck in manufacturing. This improvement forced us to change the mouthpiece from ceramic to Delrin, which is a high-temp, food-safe polycarbonate with more precise tolerances. It is widely-prized among vaping enthusiasts for its durability and resistance to residue, oils, waxes, etc. We optimized our firmware and dramatically upped the experience for all materials to levels beyond expectations. For instance, concentrates in the Loto Lux is going to be the hailed as the best. We already knew this, but we succeeded in making it even better. We didn’t think it was even possible, but apparently it was, and we are pleasantly surprised by that fact. Dry Herb went from being just okay, to being amazing. After repeated testing with unbiased users and connoisseurs who were gracious enough to try the Lux after multiple adjustments and offer their opinions, it’s very clear now that the flavor and sensory experience of the Lux will raise the bar for vaping across the board.
Each category is now at levels we know people will love, and that well-surpass the norm. People spoke, we listened, we’re great, yada yada yada.
Aside from making these improvements, we’ve also received some nice media attention, from sources interested in Loto Labs and the blossoming vape tech industry. The Ganjapreneur podcast did an interview with our president, Neeraj Bhardwaj, that was released last week. You can check it out here.
At this exact moment, we’re finishing the final tooling for the new mouthpieces. This will only take a few more weeks. In the meantime, we are fulfilling with CNC mouthpieces at a slower rate (and much higher cost). We are back in motion and are happy to have all these changes finalized. We were hoping to have shipped thousands of units by now, but these changes are great and we know you’ll appreciate it all in the end.
The following is an excerpt from the Ganjapreneur podcast interview with Neeraj Bhardwaj conducted by TJ Branfalt in August, 2018.
TG Branfalt: Hey there, I’m your host TG Branfalt and you’re listening to theGanjapreneur.comPodcast where we try to bring you actionable information and normalize cannabis through the stories of ganjapreneurs, activists, and industry stakeholders. Today I’m joined by Neeraj Bhardwaj. He’s the President of Loto Labs. How you doing today?
Neeraj Bhardwaj: I’m good. How are you doing?
TG Branfalt: I’m doing all right. Doing all right. Really stoked to talk to you. Your story’s really interesting. How you brought the Loto Lux to market is really interesting. Before we get into that, what’s your background? How did you get into the cannabis space?
Neeraj Bhardwaj: Ah, yes, that’s an interesting question actually, because I’m fromtech. My background is mainly semiconductors and non-destructive testing and the way that I got into cannabis is kind of a personal story. My mother was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago and when she was going through chemotherapy they were giving her all kinds of medicines to eat, and to sleep, and, you know, chemotherapy is itself a poison. She couldn’t eat and it was sad to see her become so thin, so someone suggested I take her cannabis.
Now, this is an Indian woman who’s never smoked or drank in her life, and myself I had only done it a couple times before that. It wasn’t something I did or practiced. I had to learn how to smoke it and that meant grinding it and rolling it, with tobacco in this case, as the person who showed me to do it. We were rolling spliffs and honestly, Mom felt fantastic and she could eat french fries immediately. It was absolutely unbelievable. I was shocked at what cannabis could do when I felt great.
After she passed I started smoking a lot of cannabis and I really gave up drinking and really, really enjoyed different strains and kind of got into it that way. Besides that, I really, really want to stop smoking cigarettes and that’s part of the way I got into thevaporizationspace. I wanted to stop smoking everything.
We know you’ve been wondering where we are with shipping, and what’s been going on. For much of this time, we’ve been wondering this ourselves, and are sorry it’s taken us awhile to get our bearings and get back on track. Fortunately, while we were testing the units we shipped in June, and a few others we built in-office, we discovered some major improvements that required some hush-hush patenting work.
So, while that was going on we kept on testing and making continual improvements on other components. We’ve redesigned various parts and optimized the performance for an incomparable experience.Frankly, we are so happy about these changes and the Lux’s performance, we just know it’ll prove to have been well worth the wait.
In the next few days, we’ll be waiting for a few changes in our mouthpiece to approach completion so we can start getting the show (back) on the road. We promise, despite being slower than anyone expected or desired, it’s all coming along well.
Technical and scientific advances are driving forces in everything from phones, computers, and cars to wellness and medicine to vice products, such as gambling, alcohol, tobacco, and cannabis. And some of the newer companies to launch in the vice arena are being compared to creative forerunners in computers.
A CNBC article said the vaporizing industry has taken a page from Apple’s playbook, meaning many vaping and cannabis-related companies are offering new products every year, with each product intended to better its predecessors in terms of efficiency, effectiveness, and design. Everyone agrees that marijuana (medical or otherwise) and vaporizing has become big business, with legal pot sales reaching $46.7 billion in 2016 and vaporizing products sales ringing up to at least $2.6 billion.
Business Insider reports more than 8500 vaporizing industry companies have launched since 2008. And in Washington State alone, more than 740 cannabis-related companies have sprouted. Mary H. K. Choi in The Atlantic claims vaporizing companies saved the tobacco industry, while Wells Fargo Securities analyst Bonnie Herzog expects “U.S. use of e-cigarettes and vaporizers to overtake combustible cigarettes in 10 years” (though the verdict is still out if this industry will be hit by Big Tobacco type of lawsuits that we saw in 1994 and beyond).
Choi furthered the high-tech comparison started by CNBC by describing legal cannabis stores as a cross “between an Apple flagship and a Danish lighting boutique except there’s a security guard with a gun and a brown-haired girl who checks your ID and card and buzzes you through.” Selection of product can be overwhelming, as the choices seem limitless. Hundreds of products themselves, their strengths and strains, ways to consume or partake and then options on possible partaking devices can confuse customers.
For example, if one wanted to consume nicotine or cannabis, one might choose a cheap cylindrical e-cigarette or vaping “pipe” for $6-$20 depending on where one purchases it, or one might decide to invest $399 in a Loto Lux by Loto Labs, the world’s first induction vaporizer. (Loto Labs is a Silicon-Valley company whose website states their mission as “engineering the most advanced vaporizers in the world to relentlessly promote wellbeing.”) Both of these vaporizer would result in a completely different consumption experience.
Neeraj Bhardwaj, President and CEO of Loto Labs, said, “We formed our company in Redwood City, California, where all of us met a through our love of recreational ice hockey. From there, we discovered that none of us were happy with the vaporizers we used. We soon realized that all four of us had lots of experience in different fields that when put together would create an ideal company to make the best possible product out there. And, of course, cashing in the burgeoning industry would be an added bonus.”
And cashing in is exactly what many states and the District of Columbia are trying to figure out how to do. Twenty-nine states and counting have legalized medical marijuana and determined ways to supervise it and tax it. Private auxiliary companies are also finding ways to capitalize on this vice industry (with everything from delivery service and “budtender” apps to child-resistant bags to event planning and tourism), and consumer appetite seems insatiable. Only time will tell if a bite gets taken out of the industry by negative health or societal effects or by lawsuits.
As some of you who follow us on Facebook and other social media may already be aware, we’ve finally shipped our first Loto Lux vaporizers! We couldn’t be prouder of how the first batch turned out — the look and the feel, as well as the clouds, have all made us very happy.
We’ve managed to ship five units so far, with another 24 slated for this week. We’ll be using these first units for testing (all you testers out there, fill out this form to sign up to be a tester).
We sent our very first unit off the line to High Times Science Editor, you can see his review here.
As we test, we’ll be working to smooth out the final processes for mass manufacturing, that will enable us to make the leap into full scale production and shipping, i.e. the Promised Land. At maximum capacity, we should be able to produce ten of thousands of units per month (from Bay Area facility, but if we went to China, hundreds of thousands), but we have to walk before we can run.
The first few units have taken longer than we ever expected to roll out. There have been so many process improvements, and minor modifications needed, to make the final assembly more efficient, perfectly repeatable and scalable. Even though it’s been slightly frustrating and disillusioning for us, this is apparently normal for hardware at this “early” stage in manufacturing. Nevertheless, we take solace in the fact that we’ve reached a major milestone and full scale production is just around the corner. We’ve been through so much to arrive at this point, whether others feel it’s praise-worthy or not, we are unshakably proud of how far we’ve come.
We’ve submitted our Mobile App to Apple, and are anxiously awaiting feedback, and hopefully approval, for the iOS app store. The Android app is in development and will be soon to follow. With some of our first Indiegogo supporters already having received their units, as well as the Beta version of the app, we’ll be inviting each successive supporter to test the app once they receive their devices–assuming the app has not yet been approved for full public availability.
Many of you have requested video demos of the unit and more details. We are working on providing you all with some great content and a deeper look into the Loto Lux. In the next few weeks, we’ll be rolling out this content and we think everyone will be excited about what they see.
We know that many of you are frustrated with the impossibility of immediately manufacturing and shipping all the units our supporters are due. We are frustrated by this too, but the best things in life, do take time. Our commitment to deliver has never been stronger, and Lux never closer, to being in your hands.
We hope you had a great weekend and that Summer is treating you well.
We’re excited to announce that our new website is up, as is our new product name!
Big ups to everyone on our team who worked tirelessly to get this up by the weekend.
Regarding the name change, we want to be clear about the reasons for changing the name but are somewhat limited in what we can say. We have to avoid any more obstacles, so need to stop short of naming the specific trademark at issue. Let’s just say… there’s a hyphen involved. Some resourceful peeps will be able to deduce it.
Nevertheless, the new name is Loto Lux, and we like it a lot. Lux means “Light” in Latin, and connotes luxury, two things we feel are very appropriate for the dawn of a new generation of vaping that is our product. Plus, there’s the whole alliteration thing going on, which isn’t too shabby.
Believe it or not, picking out a new name for a vaporizer that isn’t already taken is an enormous pain the likes of which can easily drive one to the brink of madness. Ditto for a logo redesign. We warn all of you out there, do not take either of these tasks lightly in your own enterprises. They are hugely difficult tasks and, if you can avoid them, you’d be wise to. On the bright side, if you decide to take on the challenge and manage to not lose your mind, then you can and will arrive at outcomes that you are really, really proud of. You’ll know it when it happens.
Still, we are very excited to hear your thoughts on everything: the new website, logo, brand, and product name.
Regarding the website, we still have a few bugs to fix, and finishing touches to make that will take a few weeks. E.g. we are aware of the product page image zoom issue–we’re working on it. But, for now at least, you have a good representation of our new trajectory, and that was our primary goal. We really hope you like it. Please don’t hesitate to explore the new site and share any feedback or reports of bugs through our Contact Us page.
We’ve also been updating our Countdown to Shipping blog with photos and videos for those so interested, giving you a sneak peek at the less-than-glamorous side of production. At the moment, we are on pins and needles waiting for word from a supplier on the status of our “metal clips”–if they’ll arrive soon enough to be able to start shipping some units by the end of this month. This piece holds the unit’s mouthpiece and body together, as well as the fate of our dreams to ship in June. Please, cross your fingers, or whatever else you might do to conjure some good luck from the metaphysical realm. These clips have been a pain to manufacture in large quantities, initially at least. Like every other body part on the unit, they have to be custom-made, which feels like it takes an act of congress for initial batches. Thereafter, it’s comparatively smooth sailing. Allegedly.
We should find out the status on these clips and if we’re still on track in the next day or two. We want more than anything to ship by the end of this month, now the end of this week! This is a huge moment for us, years in the making. We can’t wait to reach this milestone and get our supporters your Loto Luxes! Wish us luck.
These are the final days of production of “Evoke,” and the start of our running “Countdown to Shipping” blog.
It’s been an uphill battle and it’s not over just yet. Chances are, you’ve been with us since the beginning; or perhaps you only recently found out about Loto Labs and our quest to change the “vaporscape.” However you ended up here, welcome. Please take off your shoes.
During this moderately more exciting phase, we decided to share some snapshots along the way. It helps that we feel a bit more confident that the fateful day of shipping is fast approaching, or maybe it’s the strict diet of coffee and energy drinks. Either way, we think this stuff is pretty interesting and that some of you might appreciate it.
As you can see, this video shows our nude choreographed interpretive dance of Tennessee Williams’ “A Streetcar Named Desire.” No, actually, the video is just a test of our laser cutting wood veneers as a backup process. We’ve prepared some equipment and have a few processes like this in place, to make sure we leave as little to chance as possible. This has required increasing our lab’s capabilities and becoming a little more self-sufficient, should we need it. This is not a “production” process, per se, but these capabilities could prove crucial for short-term solutions to many issues, if needed.
Anyway, the veneers came out fantastic, and laser is pretty darn cool. We also tested adhesive placement of the veneers to ensure they’re up to snuff. We’re incredibly relieved to know that if anything happens on this front, at least, we’ll be able to avoid a delay, or worse–using scissors and construction paper with the word “WOOD” scribbled on it. We’re sure y’all would love that.
Of course, we’d like to hear from you if you have any thoughts. We’ll be back regularly to fill you in on other things going on in our sprint and/or menacing hobble to the finishing line.
Peace, love, and vaping
The Loto Labs Team
June 20th, 2017
Captain’s Log – This is currently what is keeping us from knowing an exact ship date–the “metal clips,” as we call them. This part holds the ceramic mouthpiece and the body together. This small piece of twisted metal has been annoyingly hard to make. We are waiting for word from our supplier, so we can get this show on the road!
June 21st, 2017
Here’s a quick video showing the tool for our premium alumina ceramic coil housing being made. Custom tools need to be created for every “body” part on the unit. Anyway, we think it’s fairly cool. Ignore the untidy work space—this isn’t a software company. :slightly_smiling_face: And, special thanks to artist “Public Domain” for the sweet tunes.
June 22nd, 2017
Here we see a basic layout image of the our premium package in it’s natural environment. Honestly, the mockup doesn’t do it justice. We’ve picked premium materials for the package, just like our vaporizer. The end result is going to be something special.
June 23rd, 2017
Here, ladies and gentleman, is some wood. These disembodied remains of rosewood trees will go to some great use in making veneers. We thank the rosewood for its sacrifice.
July 5th, 2017
We hope everyone enjoyed the holiday weekend more than we did. We were first disappointed to learn the news on Friday that our infamous metal clips were not ready yet due to a hold up in the heating treatment portion of the supply chain. Then, about an hour later, we learned there was a hold up with our glass capsule order and with our packages. And finally, of course, we ran up against the holiday weekend, which stalled everything. This is one of the few pain points when your manufacturer is in the US. Everything else is ready to go—the circuit boards, body frames, wood veneers, mouthpieces, etc. The last we heard on Friday was that several units should be ready to ship on Friday of this week (i.e. day after tomorrow). It’s still early in the morning here, but we’re standing by waiting for word on any status updates. They say if you have bad luck, then that just means you can also have good luck. We’re waiting for that good luck to show it’s face so we can proceed to make out with it forthwith.
Until then, here is the first-ever, fully-populated circuit board of the Loto Lux. As much as we want to keep it and hate to part with it even for a second, this piece of history is going to one lucky crowdfunder. We know it’s going to a good home.
July 5th, 2017
So, mixed blessings to report. We received the metal clips! Yay! They’re great! Double yay! And then a punch in the gut—we had to reject our first batch of ceramic “coil housings,” on Saturday. This alumina ceramic part envelops the induction coil, which delivers the magic that is induction heating. When populated on the Loto Lux, it became clear that the ID (inner diameter) of these ceramic coil housings was not up to spec—they were off by less than a millimeter, and that millimeter is the devil. With the housing being too tight, the coils would have to be wound tighter, which would be too tight for the capsules to fit in, all of which (coils, capsules, everything else) we already have ready to go, etc. etc. So, as you can see, a fraction of a millimeter is a tsunami of frustrations. We tried to modify them, but it’s… slightly more complicated than that, we worked all weekend on this, the pieces couldn’t be used. Our supplier has corrected course and made the adjustments needed. A precious few, new housings will be here Friday. This is the final piece of the shipping puzzle. Thereafter, we’ll receive more housings in batches as quickly as they are “cured.” We are told to expect over a hundred Loto Luxes to find their new homes over the course of the remainder of this month, until we get into full (“normal”) swing in the first week of August. The process will be much quicker (“turn-key”) thereafter–allegedly. Still, we are so incredibly close, and our excitement is overpowering our frustration, for now… tune in again this week to see if it lasts 🙂
July 10th, 2017
The world is looking a great deal brighter now that the crisis gremlins have been caged and reprimanded. We took a quick field trip to our manufacturing facility yesterday, to see the Lux assembly line in action. We loved what we saw: smart, pleasant people walking around in lab coats, others huddled over circuit boards of unmistakable shape as conveyor belts rolled them gently forward. The only unfortunate thing about this was that we couldn’t find a glove to place on top of a Lux board and wave goodbye to it as it rolled away. You know… to Laverne-and-Shirley this thing.
We’ve waited a long time to witness the systemic, mass cloning of our beloved device. The experience was actually even better than we’d pictured. Deep breaths of relief, and smiles of also relief were shared by us all as we skipped down the halls of Loto Lux’s uterine enclave. We left the facility feeling F-ing fantastic. It’s rare for dreams to come true, but here we are. This countdown is just about over. We’ll punctuate it with a picture of the first one shipping as soon as it’s been blessed and is ready to go.
July 21st, 2017
We reached one more HUGE milestone in Loto Labs’ journey to shipping Loto Lux. Ladies and gentlemen, we have our box.
At this point in our countdown, the Lux is pretty much ready for its maiden voyage to our first Indiegogo supporters and backers. All we need is the final OK from our engineering team, which should happen before Monday. Stay tuned!
Despite every effort to ship our first production batch by the end of this month, its looking like the second to third week of June is when they will be coming off the line. We can only hurry things so much without becoming reckless. Our manufacturer is one of the best in the world, and frankly we have to stop pushing and let them do what they do best, regardless of the pressure we’re under to deliver. They’ve assured us that everything is being done as quickly as possible without sacrificing on quality or performance.
And, to be fair, no one has ever mass produced a magnetic induction vaporizer before, so it’s been a challenge for anyone to predict anything accurately, no matter how experienced they might be. Still, we’ve been guaranteed that units are being produced as quickly and safely as possible.
Please understand that we may incur other delays that we cannot foresee, but have been assured that anything hereafter would be minor and shipping is imminent. We have already paid in-full for this first batch, incurring a hefty expense to machine metal bodies by CNC and get them to everyone sooner. It’s also been made very clear to us that they are being assembled as fast as responsibly can be. Our manufacturer has everything they need from us and has taken over the fulfillment process entirely.
That said we are pleased to share our very first production photos and video! These are the very first metal bodies for the world’s very first magnetic induction vaporizer EVER. You can see how they are being reductively machined out of solid blocks of metal. Very cool stuff! Of course, after final assembly, we’ll be adding the beautiful wood veneers.
So, here we are, on the cusp of that day that we’ve been dreaming about and struggling towards for years. We’ve been dotting our i’s and crossing our t’s, making sure everything is ready for when the first units are assembled and packaged. There’s so much “extra stuff” involved in all of this that many can easily take for granted–everything from appropriate warning labels, to legal text, to artwork on instruction manuals, packaging foam color and tolerances, etc.
Also, to clarify for our Indiegogo supporters, there was some confusion after our last update. Please understand that the very first units off the production line will be shipped as perks to our earliest donators. We will then fulfill pre-sale orders. Thereafter, we will begin fulfilling remaining supporters in order of donation time in tandem with new sales, as fast as we can, and as quickly as sales will support. Also note, we will be reaching out to all Indiegogo supporters to verify addresses and order details just prior to shipping individual units—doing so in the order of when donations were received, of course.
Finally, it came to our attention several months ago that we would need to cease using the name of “ Loto Labs” (because why not, right?). It turns out that a large international company owns a trademark for a very similar name in this space, and our lawyers forbade us to use “Evoke” upon launch. There was nothing we could do about this at all. After a week or so of digesting the (at the time) painful news, we began working overtime on a full rebrand. We’ve been working on this for months, along with everything else, and we are, extremely pleased with, and excited about, the new name, new website design, new logo, and the new brand’s “look and feel.” We have to keep the new name for the-induction-vaporizer-formerly-known-as- Loto Labs a secret just a little bit longer, though we can’t wait to share it and all the other things we’ve been working on. We really do love these changes and hope you do to.
We’ll be sharing as much as we can as it becomes ripe for reveal, including more production images and videos before that glorious day we’ve all been waiting for. Now that fulfillment is so close, we are going to try and push out updates for y’all every week.