Ranko Tutulugdzija is founder and CEO of BILLY 55, LLC a company that has created a new way of smoking, with a mission to help the 100s of millions of smokers globally overcome nicotine addiction and avoid future disease. Ranko grew up hoping to become a professional soccer player, played collegiate soccer but because of a complex health condition was forced to quit. He spent close to two years getting treatment and recovering in Nanjing and Beijing, China. As a result of that experience, Ranko trained to become an acupuncturist, and today doubles as CEO and acupuncturist, licensed in California, Florida and currently practicing in Marlboro, New Jersey. New to the business world, he has been learning the hard way what it means to be a modern entrepreneur, and appreciates all the learning that comes with this new world.
What's Your NativeAdVantage:
Tell us about BILLY 55, and your vision?
BILLY 55 has released the first cigarette in the United States, made only from green tea, it was created to assist in nicotine downregulation and in time, hopefully, complete nicotine removal and smoking cessation. It isn't easy to quit, so all of this is a big challenge, but we are trying to do everything we can to make that a reality for the 45 million smokers in the United States. Our vision is to be a part of the process that helps the current smoking population decrease by 80% within two generations. Still, smoking will always be around, and for those who don't want to quit, we will be there to continue to provide for them the green option in smoking.
What do you do best?
Hard question, but I think if I can claim that I do something best it might be the application of my thought process. I try to apporach everything with critical thinking and an analytical approach, this I am sure is because of the awesome thinkers and professors that made lasting impressions on my education and thinking that I had in the philosophy and chemistry programs at UC Santa Barbara and the University of Illinois Chicago - Dr. Georgette Sinkler, Dr. Daniel Sutherland, Professor Matt Moore and Dr. Petra Van Koppen.
How did I get into the cigarette industry?
Through acupuncture and clinical practice... I am 35 years old and have been practicing acupuncture for 8 years, in that time I have had so many patients that have wanted to quit smoking and couldn't. I realized they needed help, they needed a catalyst, just like chronically damaged body tissue needs a catalyst to provoke healing factors and red blood cell influx to regenerate and heal.
What are my aspirations?
I always aspire to be with the sick and chronically ill, I hope that in the future I can really make an impact on degenerative conditions with new medicine and with our product, as a company we hope that by smoking BILLYs and going through the three step process, a lot of smokers can avoid future lung cancer diagonsis attributed to smoking. I know what it is like to have collapsing health, you need all the support you can get.
What trends did you notice in the industry?
I studied the smoking industry since 2009, and realized smokers, like all consumers wanted options. There really weren't any options in the smoking world. I was close to bringing electronic cigarettes to the market back at that time, but after realizing how unpredictive their chemistry is on human DNA, I couldn't do it. I searched for a better way to help people with their smoking addiction, and noticed the green convergence of trends in all parts of society. The cigarette industry has had no green counterpart until now with BILLYs, we are the pioneers of the green cigarette, and with our originality comes authenticity.
What fascinates you?
The animal kingdom, I love animals and if I could live another life would've spent my life in animal rescue, still hope to do as much as I can to help in any way.
Do everything in love.
I love China spent some time there, the one place in China that left a dense impression in me was the Yellow Mountains, but I also find ancient monasteries where monks/nuns reside so totally fascinating, the way they live, their patience and gentleness toward humanity, it is something very cool.
Scientists: Faraday, Leibniz, Newton, Descartes, Kepler... I really love them all and wish I could be a professional student for another 30 years.
My current passion is new music, the youth is coming out with such creative sound and style I am trying to keep up!