By Eric Peterson | Nov 08, 2021
Starting out in the Texas oil and gas industry, Abouzalam moved into cannabis in Colorado to indulge his entrepreneurial streak with Bee-Nails.
"I saw cannabis was legalized in Colorado back in 2014," he says. "I was like, 'Wow, this is an incredible opportunity. People who get in now are going to be pioneers of a multi-billion-dollar industry.' That became my goal: 'I need to get up to Colorado somehow to be around that.'"
Once Abouzalam moved to Colorado, a friend reached out with an idea for "a cannabis product to dab without a torch."
"A lightbulb went off in my head because I had seen dabbing for the first time in college," says Abouzalam, recounting a story where a friend pulled out a blowtorch and offered him a hit. His reply: "Whatever that is, I want no part of that."
The pair co-founded Bee-Nails soon thereafter; Abouzalam later bought his partner's share of the business. "Our first mission for the company was to revolutionize the convenience of dabbing," says Abouzalam. "Using a butane blowtorch is unfortunately still the primary way that people dab. We needed to get the torch out of the picture."
The resulting E-Nails "are digital control boxes that send heat to a coil" in lieu of an open flame, says Abouzalam. "We were the first ones to ever come out with a full dabbing kit. For a new dabber, it can be really intimidating. . . . We kind of take the guesswork out of it."
The company manufactures its electronic products with three primary partners in China, and several glassblowers in the U.S. -- including Shwayze Glass in Fort Collins -- make the rigs.
Bee-Nails has two pending patents, including one on reusable vape cartridges. "One of the biggest problems in the cannabis industry right now is the carbon footprint," says Abouzalam. "And one of the biggest things is one-use disposable cartridges. Even if these are made with recyclable materials, if they touch the cannabis plant, they can't be recycled."
Abouzalam also highlights the company's three-in-one Trinity Universal Nail. "I don't know why, but still to this day nobody has stolen our idea for the three-in-one nail that has all three primary dabbing elements -- titanium, ceramic, and quartz," says Abouzalam. "These are just good heat conductors, and they allow for optimal flavor of cannabis concentrates."
Bee-Nails' sales grew rapidly until the vape crisis hit. "2019 was a dip," he says. "COVID was difficult as well, but now we're back on track in 2021."
With that, Abouzalam is pivoting the company to be a broader lifestyle brand. "That's the next chapter of Bee-Nails," he says. "I switched our slogan to 'Bee Your Best.' I realized over my time in the cannabis industry that so many people -- whether it's to overcome anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, or simply to just destress at the end of a long day or a long week -- are using cannabis to improve their lives, to be their best self."
Challenges: "As we approach federal legalization, it seems like the legal landscape is getting more difficult," says Abouzalam. "There's been new legislation passed specifically around vaporizer products. . . . There's more red tape around being even a hardware company like us. Regulations in the vape industry have become more difficult."
Another challenge, he adds, is "learning to cross-promote personal development with cannabis consumption."
Opportunities: "Out of the three primary product categories in cannabis -- flower, edibles, and concentrates -- concentrates are the fastest growing, and we specialize primarily in concentrate vaporizers," says Abouzalam. "What's really exciting is we are still in the infancy of our niche market of concentrate vaporizers."
Needs: Abouzalam, who relocated from Fort Collins to St. Petersburg, Florida, in spring 2021, is focusing on his career as a coach in the personal development space. "That's where my passion is, so I've been speaking with my advisor and am looking potentially to get an operations manager, potentially even a CEO, to replace me this next year," he says.