Interview with the founders of Expo Hookah Brazil 🇧🇷 (Comment contest!)

Hi guys can you please tell your names of your team of founders Expo Hookah Brazil?

Hello! Thanks for having us here. We are Diego Ruiz and Vinicius Rampazo, copartners and owners of Hookah Friends which is behind the Expo Hookah Brazil, the biggest hookah fair in Latin America.

Diego (left) Vinicius (right)

Please tell a story when and how did you start to smoke a hookah? And tell your story why, when and how did you decide to organize very first hookah event?

We started to smoke hookah long time ago, in 2003, Two apples from Nakhla Tobacco, in a Chinese hookah and it was love at the first sight.

After 10 years of the first smoke puff, our company Hookah Friends was born, in July 2013.

The initial idea was to gather all “Hookah lovers” from the neighborhood in an communal bar. The first event was surprising, the amount of people that we invite got triplicated. And after this day, we woken up with an amazing sensation of mission accomplished. The satisfaction to have everyone with the same path meeting together, talking, enjoying and creating new ties.

The second event was made at the same way and again, surprise! 3x more people and unfortunately we got full capacity of the bar. After the second one, we have planned better the 3rd, in a more professional way, we were able to gather all we need for Hookah lovers in one place: waiters serving food, DJ, stage attractions, like smoke puffs competitions with prizes and on this event we started to separate spaces for the brands, to present new products and personalize with their brand.

At this event, we start to grow as a fair, and not only a hookah meeting.

Nowadays the event is the biggest hookah fair in Latin America, with 8.000 people and more than 100 brands, and our objective will be always to make the new event better than the past editions, and we didn’t forget of our main purpose, to provide also a good space to the people meet each other, to enjoy the time together and smoke a good hookah.

We want to provide the best day in the life of these people, to meet lots of new people, making many friends and provide them all a harmonious environment of true friends and passionate about this culture. This is Hookah Friends and this is the pillars of Expo Hookah Brazil.

 Do you remember how we get accounted in 2017? Maybe my first message to you. What was you thinking about us?

Yes, of course we remember! The first impact was: “Is it true? Wooow, that’s cool. Let’s do it, let’s make this happen!!“. And we were excited to have you guys as a partner and visiting us. I think it was the first time of you guys in Brazil and we were very happy to have you with us.

Together, we were able to make a nice show with Hookah Battle in our stage and to provide a very nice experience to the people that was participating.

And after 3 events together and also a big pandemic gap, we are excited to have you guys again with us!

First hookah battle in brazil 2017

I know that hookah business is not your primary job. Can you tell what you do, when you dont organize hookah expo?

No, Hookah business is not the main role. Vinicius is an engineer 3D modeler and Diego is a car designer.

But as we always said, the Hookah business for us is not a business, it’s a passion that became a business unconsciously and to make it possible with our main jobs, we created a big team that support and help us to realize this amazing event for everyone.

It was a long period of Covid, when you have stoped to do the show. What did you do in this period? Do you think you may have troubles with covid again?

It was a long gap. During this time we continue to planning the event, but with no idea of when will be possible to launch. The extra time was good to improve some backstage stuff. When we thought that was everything ok to launch the event, a second wave of covid lockdown came and postponed our plan again. But at this time, it was everything ready, we just waited until the dust came down and launched the event in a safe time for everyone. Now we don’t think we are going to have issues.

I remember when I had visited first your Brazil expo, the most unusual thing for me been the next: people come to your expo with own hookahs in hands. Never seen this before on any other hookah festivals or expos. Why do you think this specific happens in Brazil?

Because, as we said. The idea is to provide the best time for those people.

We didn’t lose the essence from the first event, that was just a hookah meeting. We want to keep that environment even with the fair. The people can enjoy the fair, the news, buy a new hookah and after that, seat with their friends and enjoy the new products or try the samples that the brands gave to them. If they like, they can come back to the fair and buy more. It’s a different approach of common fairs.

Have you ever been at some hookah expos of other countries? Do you plan to go to some expos this year?

No, unfortunately we didn’t. But we are planning to visit for sure!

What do you think about the dynamics of Brazil hookah market? How it was in 2013/2017/2019 and what you expect in 2023?

The hookah market was in a ascendent path, from the first event until the last edition in 2020, we could see the growth of the brands, we could see giant brands that was born in our event even bigger. The market was good until the pandemic crash. Unfortunatelly we received updates about some brands that bankrupt, some of them left the hookah market, another reducing the portfolio and the capacity of the employees, lounges crashing. And before we launch the event we received a lot of brand owners that continues in the market talking to us and asking “please, come back with Expo Hookah, we need that ASAP”. And we return, but a little bit afraid of what will be happening, are we still capable of put 100 brands in this event? Will the big public still come or they stopped from hookah and migrate to Pods/Vapes?

That was a question that we made to ourselves until the day that we launched the event. It blowed our mind! It was better than any other event that we’ve made in the past. In 2 days, we sold more than 1.000 tickets, all most VIP tickets Sold out and all the biggest brands investing to come back even stronger. What can we expect? I can tell you that will be the best event that we ever made.

What was the first brands which supported your events at the start?

We remember that since the first event, Blog do Arguile always was there while it was on air.

Also brands that are still exposing on the last event, like Hookah King, Brasuka and Mukabowl was there in the birth of Hookah Friends and continue with us.

Have you ever think about other types of event concepts which you can make in other period. Like b2b events for hookah lounge / store owners or influencer meeting where you can attract in one place most of hookah bloggers.

Some other expo holders do this in other countries. And for example every year we (hookah battle) organize annual event in Russia :

Lounge Business Meetup– business conference for hookah lounge owners

With education lectures like TedEd

Yes! We still think about other formats, smaller events, bigger events, but for now, we prefer to keep just Expo Hookah and do the best we can to be the best event from Latin America. The brazilian market can embrace that but it’s not the right time to come with this, we are currently in a fog, let’s wait and refine this idea for the future. The other formats are very interesting, we have some roughs but for now let’s focus on our Expo and provide the best we can in one event.

What do you think about how vaping industry affects to hookah market? Many hookah shops worldwide change hookahs to electronic cigarettes. You know expo holders from Russia Hookah Club Show? More and more vape brands have started to exhibit on their expo.

We think for Brazil market it don’t take away the place of hookah in the market, because here Vapes and Pods are prohibited. You can not sell or promote. That’s the only reason we don’t think it will replace hookah or eat part of the fair spaces for now. Maybe in the future if the government change the legislation, yes.

What was the most interesting / creative exhibitor booth for the all history of your expo? (which brand and plz share a picture)

There are several interesting exhibitors booths, like Zomo that always came with music shows with famous artists from Brazil,

bringing a lot of attention to them,

Nay that was with a tattoo studio in a very nice rock mood, you can see people leaving the booth with a hookah tattoo on the arm,

Tiobob always comes with an amazing visual space with different type of experiences. you can see people leaving the booth with a hookah tattoo on the arm, Tiobob always comes with an amazing visual space with different type of experiences.

It’s always surprising in a good way, they are all very creative, in each booth you probably will have something that will make you atay there in their spaces.

What do you guys personally like to smoke? Which brands and flavors ?

Usually we smoke Tangiers in our Wookah’s but since we receive a lot of samples to test, we smoke a lot of different brands and flavors, of course we have our preferences of flavors, but we are always open to test and to give the feedback to our partners.

Do you know citizens of which countries can travel to you without visa? Is it difficult to exhibit at your expo for some small brand from other country? What should they know if they would like to come to you?

Only countries that Brazil have diplomat agreements can travel to here without visa.

It’s always good to check the updated list before buy your flight ticket. No, it’s easy to be an exhibitor with us, the only segment that is not allowed is the tobacco, because it should be regulated by our government, the other segments are more than welcome to contact us and reserve an space. What we recommend, is to find a company that can organize the booth assembly in Brazil and other burocractic stuff. Or, be together with another brand that is based here. It could simplify the process.

(note from Stan Medkov: if you would like to get such a connections: please join our International Hookah Battle TELEGRAM community,and ask a question on your language chat – that you are looking for a partner to exhibit in Brazil, we will help you)

Sometimes I talk with some hookah manufacturers (non-Brazil) who have tried to reach Brazil market and had no success. The logistics is too expensive. Which foreign hookah manufacturers had a success on the Brazil market?

Yes, unfortunatelly there are many taxes, you have to put in a balance and check if it can provide you a good profit or not. We recommend always a representative store, distributor or even people in Brazil, a good example is the partnership from Meduse (Czech manufacturer of Design Glass hookahs) and Tiobob (Brazil Distributor). This is the best way to bring your brand to Brazil.

Thank you for the interview! Can I ask you to give us a 2 entrance tickets to the upcoming expo to the person who make the most interesting comment under this interview?

Of course! The most interesting comment here will receive a pair of tickets of Expo Hookah Brazil in March 20th. And also a free pass to come in the business days that will happen in 18 and 19 of May.

The winner for this gift will be selected: May 1st 12:00 UTC

#Hookah King
#Hookah lounge
#Shisha Messe

1 comment


Ansioso pelo evento e ansioso pelo south america hookah battle 🤝🏼

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