Project Description

A Vape to Quit Vaping

Rip Ranger Inc.

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Going the Extra Mile

“I was a vaper,” says Phil Tran. “I was an addict for many years. I had lots of friends and family members who were addicted.”

In March 2020, as the world shut down at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, early research suggested that vapers who get COVID had a much higher chance of dying from the disease. That gave Tran the motivation he needed to stop vaping. “I got COVID and faced death. It scared the life out of me.”

Tran, who worked in venture capital, decided he wanted to be part of the solution to nicotine addiction. So he founded a company called Rip Ranger Inc., with the aim of creating technology to help vapers wean themselves, gradually overcoming their need for nicotine physiologically and psychologically. “I wanted to build an easier way to quit, without needing the spike of adrenaline and the will power of facing death.”

That’s where Rose-Hulman Ventures comes into the story. One of his investors had experience working with Rose-Hulman Ventures at another company, and suggested that Tran reach out for help. “The initial scope of the project was to build a PCB for the electrical and software of the concept of a vape that helps you quit vaping,” he says. “We didn’t initially plan to build the mechanical or hardware, just the electrical and software.”

Tran would have been pleased to prove the concept even if the result was something short of a fully functioning prototype. But Rose-Hulman Ventures went the extra mile. “Through the course of the process they were able to do the extra work, and also do the mechanical and hardware side,” Tran says. “It was not part of the initial scope but they saw it was really needed, and they were great enough and flexible enough to complete that. They saved us quite a bit of time—four to six months of work—and capital.”

With a prototype in hand, Rip Ranger was able to start testing the product with individuals much more quickly. “We were able to get this in the hands of vaping addicts sooner,” he says. The Rose-Hulman Ventures team also provided thorough technical documentation that made it easier for even a non-techie company founder to adjust the technology as needed.

“That proved to be really awesome,” Tran says. “Our first hypothesis was a method that looked good on paper but in practice didn’t work. But because they allowed the flexibility of adjusting by myself and my team, we were able to make a lot more adjustments. Those resulted in much more success in helping people quit.”

Tran was pleased with the process of working with Rose-Hulman Ventures on product development. “They were always on time, kept me in the loop, walked me through things I wasn’t sure about and helped educate me on the way,” he says. “It felt like a partnership. They helped a lot after the end of the project, answering questions and helping refer me to people. They cared what I was working on and did what was needed. That was much different from some other third-party contracting firms.”

Rip Ranger is now working toward bringing its product to market, and Tran says there is a lot of need. Many people these days become addicted to vaping in high school or even earlier. Kicking the habit for good is incredibly difficult and frustrating, often requiring multiple attempts. That’s why it’s so important to get the technology right—because failing to beat the addiction can be so discouraging. “You want to give them the best shot possible, and not put something in their hands that doesn’t work and will discourage them from trying again. That would be the worst thing.”

Nicotine gums and patches work only 10% of the time, he says, and the combination of medication and counseling has a 30% success rate. Tran has high hopes for surpassing the success levels that current methods are able to achieve. “The goal with Rip Ranger is to build something where there is no way you are going to stay addicted.”

Project Details


Rip Ranger Inc.


A vape to help vapers quit




Software, Hardware, Mechanical

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