In its very simplest form, a good business of any category consists of a recognition and subsequent fulfillment of a particular need. As reductionist as that may sound, this simple concept lies at the core of every successful business in every genre of commerce ever conceived, be it a grocery store, a construction company, a bar, a strip club, a fast food chain, etc. Obviously, it could be argued that this is what every business does, but only the good businesses manage to successfully accomplish those two things. Failing in the business world more often than not simply means that you failed either to recognize a prevalent need or to sufficiently fulfill it. Granted, “need” is a relative term here, considering that as a species, we truly don’t need anything more than food, shelter and the opportunity to reproduce, but when you stretch the parameters in which the word can apply, the theory is sound. It is more or less this theory upon which iDab Glass was conceived, as well as how it continues to thrive in an industry flooded with imitators.
It was only five years ago that Shane, iDab’s founder, first came to recognize the particular need that his company fulfills. It was the end of the last decade in Southern California. The medical marijuana industry, though still barely limping along in the rest of the country, was already at a full stride in the Golden State. Natural medicine of the sticky green variety was big business and though few outside this statewide, barely legal industry could see it, the emerging trend to follow was the growing interest in concentrates, aka wax, dabs, BHO, hash, etc.
“I was sitting in my buddy’s collective and I saw everyone getting flower,” Shane reminisces, “just the flower. And they’d hear the door open and they’d watch a person walk through the door, straight to the concentrates, not even look at the flower and that person would buy that concentrate and they’d walk out. The people who were buying the flower that would watch them . . . they did not understand what a dab was. They did not understand how someone would pay 50, 60, 70, even 80 dollars a gram for concentrate because they were the people that were just taking it and putting a little wax on top of weed. It’s just not the same as taking a dab.” Shane not only knew that the industry would eventually shift toward the concentrates, he knew that getting out in front of that shift would be the best possible way to succeed within the industry he loved. Having already been a cultivator and producer of multiple cannabis-based meds at the youthful age of 23, Shane knew his home was within this world and only needed to find the niche on which he could thrive. Armed with little more than a gut instinct and a passion for the healing herb, he staked his claim on that aforementioned emerging trend, or at least the hardware the trend required.
“Dude,” he told his buddy at the collective, “you need to get glass on your shelves, like, wax/concentrate rigs on your shelf right next to the wax.” The logic behind his words didn’t sink in right away, so he explained further. “If you put the utensils in that same display,” he told him, “not somewhere else; right below it, it will spike the sales of wax concentrates and convert more people to come over from the flower.” Since at that point, his cohort was one of the biggest producers of wax in the area, making that conversion brought him an obvious advantage. The advantage for Shane was knowing how to provide him with that glass. He started small, going to a glassblower friend for help and requesting a dozen oil rigs—a style of smoking device that was still little more than a novelty in most smoke shops—and selling them to the collective owner at a modest markup.
“Long story short, they were gone in a week,” he says.
From there, he never looked back. A dozen pieces turned into two dozen. Those two dozen turned into a full gross. His buddy at the dispensary got the exact boost in sales he had predicted and Shane found himself more or less running a glass company before he even hit the quarter-century mark. Then, he took it to the masses. “I went to my first trade show and I did over $40,000 in sales,” he recounts, the surprise still evident in his voice years later.
But as stated before, it’s not enough just to know that there is a need. It’s not even enough just to take a stab at fulfilling it. The secret to iDab’s success is that Shane was not only one of the first to see the need, he also knew that to fulfill it would require the utmost attention to detail. The product he offered had to be quality in every aspect, and that included materials, aesthetic appeal and functionality.
For materials, Chinese glass just wouldn’t do. He worked only with German Schott glass, the undisputed standard of quality within the lampworking community. He didn’t cut corners with his blowers either. The artisans who produce iDab previously worked with such industry giants as ROOR and Rehab. And functionality? Well, did we mention iDab was producing dab rigs on a mass scale nearly five years ago? Not to mention, as he tells it, he was the first to bring the drop arm to the masses, a must have for anyone intent on keeping their eyebrows in tack when partaking of the good herb in concentrated form. Torches are hot, dude. He had a role in developing the carb cap, too. Not too shabby.
The final need that Shane recognized, though, was the need to move the entire industry forward, even if said industry had to be dragged kicking and screaming. The trade he entered was one that for the entirety of its existence, had been forced to operate in the shadows, at the edge of legality and legitimacy, held down by tyrannical laws that preyed upon the fears and superstitions of the masses in order to maintain the existing power structure. As a member of the younger generation, however, Shane was operating free of the fear instilled into his predecessors by overeager cops and demagoguing politicians. The height of the drug war had been carried out while he was barely into his teens. And though he had his own brushes with the law in his life leading up to his new career, he had never been hauled away for the mere crime of selling a glass pipe. Consequently, many of his colleagues chalked up his bold steps forward to naivety. Shane however, sees his moves as a little bit of understanding the market and a little bit of activism for a cause in which he intensely believes. Whatever the case, the market has followed his footsteps and in a sense, legitimized his actions.
Shane remembers the early objections clearly. “The first show that I went to,” he recalls, “they literally asked me, ‘Hey are you sure? This name, a lot of people think it’s really strong.’ And I said, ‘Hey, you know what? This is iDab. It’s not “iCrack,” it’s not “iCoke.” This is iDab. So, let’s have a little more respect for it.’ Dabs are just a higher concentration of cannabis. It’s like someone being so naive to say, ‘Oh, no, I don’t want to buy concentrate Windex. I just want to buy the regular one that I can spray.’”
To this day, not everyone approaches the subject with the unfettered boldness Shane exudes. But the man behind iDab is undeterred. It’s not that he’s unaware of the dangers at being at the front of progress; it’s that he’s more aware of the mediocrity of a life lived as a follower.
“So the people that aren’t doing it, they’ll adapt and that’s fine. They’ll get on board. But understand there was already a ship here for you to jump on and sail. And there’s a reason that people paved the way to have it be how it is.”