In the words of Rod Santos, founder of Stache Products, any person can have an idea, but it takes effort and commitment to go through with a project. From his own experience, he has learned that the most challenging — and fulfilling — part of the process is actually bringing that idea to fruition.
“As a kid I was always entrepreneurial and inspired to prototype and create new things,” says Santos, who was born in Sao Paulo, Brazil and moved to the Greenbelt, Maryland area with his family in 1989. “I have a 10th grade education. I’m not smarter than anyone. I’m just eager, persistent, and hungrier than any wolf out there.”
Early in his professional career, Santos worked as an efficiency manager in the restaurant industry, where he gained experience in troubleshooting and optimizing operations for profitability. However, his path took a different turn after watching a program about marijuana on the VICE channel.
Inspired by this, he and three friends established Bethesda Vapor Company, a smoke shop in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2012, to explore their newfound interest in the cannabis and vape industries.
In spite of their noble intentions and heartfelt mission to aid their community in switching from smoking cigarettes to vaping while offering exceptional customer service, Bethesda Vape Company was forced to close its doors. The business, which had also opened a second location in nearby Silver Spring, suffered significant losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic. When they eventually managed to reopen, the government dealt them a fatal blow by imposing inflated wholesale taxes on vapes.
Instead of giving up, Santos channeled his energy towards finding solutions. He observed that the vape industry was lacking in function, capability, and innovation, and decided to take matters into his own hands. Having already experimented with modding his own e-cigs, he began developing new and innovative products. The first of these was the Stache Pen, a groundbreaking dab device that utilized advanced coils and storage options, providing a solution to the limitations of standard batteries. Santos was confident he was on the right track when numerous copycats began infringing on his patented idea.
Santos shifted his focus to a more significant challenge: improving the functional efficiency of dab rigs. His strategy involved utilizing induction heating, a process that heats electrically conductive materials by generating a changing magnetic field through Eddy currents, allowing for heat transfer over short distances without physical contact. Unfortunately, Santos’ innovative approach attracted unwanted attention, as his patent was stolen before he could introduce his product to the market.
“It was disheartening to see known brands with a lot of money taking advantage of our designs,” Santos says, “but I learned a lot about my own process and have gotten smarter about how I launch and market our own products.”
Despite the setback, Santos didn’t give up and returned to the drawing board. He created a new invention that he called the Rig-in-One, also known as the RIO. The design was brilliantly simple: a cold start rig that allows users to add concentrate to the banger first, and then heat it using the built-in, palm-sized adjustable torch for approximately 12-20 seconds. The torch has a timer that ensures the banger is heated to the perfect temperature. The incorporation of the torch directly into the rig makes the entire unit safer and more compact.
Santos claims that the RIO is Stache’s most popular product because it simplifies the process of consuming concentrates, and is the first portable rig for consumers.
“The best thing about it being a modular design is that no matter what updates we make you’ll always be able to keep your original RIO and grow with it,” he says. “Soon, you’ll be able to take the torch out of the RIO and replace it with an induction, battery powered modular system.”
Remaining true to his innovative nature, Santos devised yet another revolutionary dabbing tool: the ConNectar. This sleek pen-like device transforms any 510 threaded battery into an electric dab straw. Once again, modularity was a key factor in the design. With 510 batteries being readily available, cannabis users who wish to experiment with concentrates can easily attach the ConNectar to a battery they already own, without the need to purchase an expensive nectar collector or a complete rig.
Stache is once again shifting its focus, this time with a groundbreaking grinder for those, like Santos himself, who prefer flower. Dubbed the “Grynder” with a “Y” to distinguish it from the ordinary grinders, it features micro-sized rounded pins instead of the usual sharp teeth, resulting in a unique twist on the traditional design.
“Grinders haven’t changed since brick weed yet the flower is getting better every day. The Grynder uses the same principle as a mortar and pestle but with a bunch of little round bumps,” Santos explains. “I don’t even like to use the word ‘grind.’ The bumps separate the flower from itself where the others with sharp teeth are shredding it,” Santos adds. “The Grynder doesn’t whack, shred, mill or destroy your weed. It merely separates it perfectly as intended. Plus you get 65% more pollen on the flower.”
With just two or three twists, the Grynder produces a size and consistency ideal for packing into a Dutch Master or Backwoods blunt. With a few more twists, the yield is perfect for rolling a joint, and with about eight twists, you have a bong hit that’s beyond belief.
Santos and his team, which includes his wife and expert marketer, Alex, are thrilled to expand Stache’s presence in other areas of the cannabis industry. Currently, the company has nine patents pending for “revolutionary” products in the prototype and development phases. One product that has already hit the market and addresses a common problem is the DigiTul, a handheld scale that accurately weighs concentrates for precise dosing.
“Every product I have put out is my baby from start to finish, and seeing our customers’ reactions and their excitement for our products and our company pushes me to continue to do what I do,” Santos says. “I have so much passion for what I do, and I’m lucky to have a network of people who’ve been with me from the beginning and have always pushed me to keep trying and never stop.”