Phee was founded in 2014 with the aim of giving a second life to natural residues, which humanity considers as waste, trying to prove that these materials will be part of our daily life in the future.
This is the vision of its founder, Stavros Tsompanidis, a young businessman, featured in CEOWORLD magazine. We had a very interesting discussion about the development of the company, the distinctions it has managed to obtain so far and the collaborations with large commercial groups in Greece and abroad.
The company collects Posidonia Oceanica seagrass which is washed up on beaches and then using it as a raw material manufactures the phee panel which now has applications not only in personal items but also in furniture and other interior constructions . In addition to Posidonia Oceanica seagrass, Phee now harvests coffee grounds, wild artichoke and mountain tea biomass.
There are many accolades to date for Phee, the most significant being the Pan-European award from Forbes magazine. Phee was selected among the 30 most emerging innovative companies in the new materials industry. Equally significant was the distinction at the Hellenic Initiative Impact Awards in 2020.
It should be mentioned that the company, in collaboration with the Greek American Foundation, will participate as a donor in the Gabby Awards 2022, which will be held on June 10. Phee has donated a range of products – along with other companies – which will be auctioned off for a good cause.
“We have made a shift as a company over the past two years. We completely changed our strategy and instead of promoting utility products, we focused on raw materials which were the source and motivation of our company’s activity. I mean the construction of our panel which is made using Posidonia Oceanica seagrass from the beaches,” Stavros Tsompanidis told CEOWORLD magazine, adding the following:
“We investigated what other applications it might have beyond personal items and the most important of these turned out to be used as a decorative surface in furniture and in interior constructions in general. In other words, we sell the material to furniture companies, architects and construction companies who use it in their projects. In this way we see the development of our raw material. But at the same time, because we started from the product and we continue to be interested in this industry, we give the material to companies, which design objects and promote them on the market, in collections. But simply in these cases they take our panel as a material and use it as they wish through their product collections”.
Continue reading Stavros Tsompanidis’ interview:
Q: Which companies do you work with in Greece and abroad?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “We continue our cooperation with Zylo in Syros the collection of sunglasses. We have started another collaboration with a fashion brand, the company Blue in Green Bags who took our material and made it into a handle for a women’s bag. We are also continuing to a large extent with applications for the hospitality industry. Our material is becoming circular products and we have developed a wide range of these products used in hotels, including catalogs for hotel restaurants, to sovereigns, to signs and more. We have so many different options.
We already have cooperation with Four Seasons in Greece but also with the Marriott group in Greece and abroad. In the near future we are expected to send our order for two hotels in the UK. Of course, we also have several hotel groups in Greece with whom we work. In general, at the moment our materials, or our products are located in several European countries, mainly in Northern Europe and the United Kingdom.
I would also like to mention our cooperation with the British brand Alex Mint for the creation of the Oceanides side tables collection. The brand has combined Phee Board with Greek marble to create a collection of side tables.
Q: Can you explain in detail the purpose of the company?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “We focused on the raw material. The raw material is manufactured using a patented technology that we have developed. This is how the company started its activity. We first made the raw material and then applied it to the products. In addition to changing the company’s business strategy, we have developed new materials over the past two years. We reuse other plant residues which are in abundance.
For example, we work with espresso coffee grounds. We take the espresso coffee grounds that are thrown away and make a new material out of them. A new raw material. It is again a kind of panel, a surface, which has corresponding applications in the furniture industry, in the construction industry, in interior decoration and in different articles”.
Q: What have been the milestones in the operation of the company over the years?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “It was a big step when in fact we patented the process of developing our technology. This was achieved after three years of research, in 2017.
A second milestone for me was the pan-European award from Forbes magazine, which selected us among the 30 most emerging innovations in the new materials industry across Europe. It was very important for us. Because it gave us a big psychological boost to keep trying.
And right now, in the last two years, we have five different materials. We have already talked about coffee, but we also work with other residues, so there is a range of new materials that come to replace the conventional ones.
For me, the start of two new collaborations is considered a milestone. One is with the Everest group. We return their leftover coffee – which we collect from the shops – in the form of panels to be used for various constructions. Everest has built an entire recycling system around the coffee grounds that grow in all of its stores. In collaboration with a waste management company, the coffee is collected, a certain amount is composted and what remains is collected by Phee, which makes the raw material, the surface, the Cophee Board and sends it back to Everest. Already, there have been a few promotional stands with this specific material.
Our second collaboration is with a multinational, which is taking equipment from us, but I would not like to announce anything more at the moment.
Q: How have the two years with Covid been for Phee?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “It was a development process for Phee, the two years with covid. We developed four new materials, we saw our technology as the way to grow the business. There are of course financial difficulties due to the fact that the market has fallen very sharply, especially the hotel tourism market that we are approaching and relying on, but we have managed to stay alive and try to grow.
The catering market with the Greek souvenir market, which are mainly the two networks where our products are sold, holds 55% to 60% of our turnover. We were very exposed to these two markets. Now, our exposure to these two markets is decreasing and, on the other hand, our exposure to construction projects in general is increasing”.
Q: What are your future plans for Phee?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “What we want to achieve and I think we are achieving it step by step, is to have all the guarantees to replace conventional raw materials. That’s the point. We started with one material and now we have expanded to more. We are studying other applications in the field of research and development, which is essential for our company. As the demand for green materials and bio-based materials increases, we can have a good share of this “cake”, which should see significant growth in the years to come.
Q: How difficult was it to pursue your project in Greece?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “The main difficulty in Greece is that it is a very small market. The country does not accompany you easily in your first steps. The second fact, which of course I think is improving over the years, is that there is a lack of a serious framework around entrepreneurship (I am talking about both taxation and the financial part). Finally, when you want to introduce something brand new that has never been in the market before, this process takes a long time to succeed, which small businesses cannot afford”.
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