This article is sponsored by Firefly, a San Francisco-based technology company that specializes in the research, design, and manufacturing of vaporizer hardware.
Not every idea conceptualized by new acquaintances in the aftermath of Burning Man becomes a reality, but the Firefly vaporizer is an exception to the rule. When Firefly co-founders Mark Williams and Sasha Robinson first met at a Burning Man Decompression party in 2007, Williams was working as a design manager at Apple, and Robinson was working as a software engineering consultant for Microsoft. At that time, the only premium vape on the market was the Volcano – a respectable product, but one that Robinson compares to a blender with a plastic bag on top. With no sophisticated alternatives in the handheld vaporizer space, Williams and Robinson thought, “Hey, we’re consumer product guys, let’s take a crack at it.”
They didn’t know their product would earn an analogy as “the iPhone of vaporizers” – initially, they simply set out to integrate all the features they themselves desired in a vape. “Mark and I were both cannabis smokers,” says Robinson, “but vaping is so much better. This is a technology that will change the ritual that we’ve done for thousands of years.”
Using Customer Feedback and Data to Build Their Best Vaporizer
When the original Firefly debuted in 2013, it was designed to fit into Williams’s and Robinson’s own active lifestyles. But when it came time to update the product, they looked further for inspiration. “Firefly 2 is a different story, and it’s all about our customers,” says Williams. “I looked at literally every customer service record for Firefly 1…at what was working for them and what was not.” From these records, Williams compiled a list on the premise of addressing every issue noted by customers (and people that could have been customers) without dropping a single aspect. Demands ranged from decreased weight and increased battery life to better materials, heat efficiency, and vapor density.
The biggest update involved the incorporation of a new heating plate and updated heating algorithm; together, these allow the Firefly 2 to perform “dynamic convection,” which maximizes efficiency and saves consumers money on cannabis. The Firefly 2 was also optimized for use with concentrates in addition to flower. “The landscape around concentrate use has changed a lot; the 2 is designed to work incredibly well with concentrates,” says Williams. “Our customers say it delivers the smoothest, tastiest concentrate hits” and reflects the full range of active ingredients and flavors in dabs, oil, shatter, and wax. Finally, the team ensured that the Firefly 2 was more intuitive than ever – not just for consumers, but also for manufacturers. Robinson used his UX background to reengineer the device which has all but eliminated manufacturing issues.
Firefly 2 Vaporizer: Smaller, Stronger, Smarter, Streamlined
In short, the Firefly 2 was designed to be lighter, smaller, stronger, and smarter, and both Robinson and Williams agree that their Silicon Valley backgrounds impacted those outcomes. “It totally informs my approach to the Firefly,” says Williams of his experience in the innovation-obsessed tech world. “At Apple, I was introduced to a new standard of excellence…our internal model was ‘it just works.’ With Firefly 1 we got part of the way [to that standard], and with Firefly 2 we got all the way there.”
Williams and Robinson are also conscious of the fact that technologically advanced products can do more than just turn a profit; they can also shine a positive light on the public perception of cannabis culture as a whole. “The word ‘stoner’ and the shame around cannabis that has been created and tied up in this word is a political thing that’s been done to cannabis consumption – to me, a stoner is a drunk. We need a [concept] for someone who is a ‘drinker,’” says Robinson. “[The Firefly is] something that I would be proud to have out on my coffee table when people come over. It’s no drug paraphernalia; it’s like [what] a high-quality cocktail shaker is to the home bartender.”
Will There Be a Firefly 3?
What’s next for Firefly? Williams ensures that there will definitely be more Firefly products on the horizon, but in the meantime, the focus is on honing the Firefly 2’s existing design, which Williams and Robinson assert that they – and their customers – are very satisfied with. In the next few months, an update to the Firefly app will give consumers control over the inner workings of the apparatus, letting them leverage its powerful technology to customize their flower and concentrate experiences. “We made a device that was flexible enough to adapt to those user preferences, and we’re feeding data gathered from our customers back into the product,” says Williams. Based on those insights, “we can update the way the device thinks and performs.” In short, the F2 is designed to continuously be better.