Phee was founded in 2014 with the scope of giving a second life to natural residues, which humanity considers as waste, trying to prove that these materials will be part of our everyday life in the future.
This is the vision of its founder, Stavros Tsompanidis, a young businessman, who is featured in CEOWORLD magazine. We had a very interesting discussion about the development of the company, the distinctions that has managed to obtain so far and the collaborations with large business groups in Greece and abroad.
The company collects seagrass Posidonia Oceanica which is washed up on the beaches and then by using it as a raw material manufactures the phee board which now has applications not only in personal items but also in furniture and other indoor constructions. In addition to seagrass Posidonia Oceanica, Phee now collects coffee grounds, wild artichoke and biomass from mountain tea.
There are many distinctions to date for Phee with the most important being the pan-European award from Forbes magazine. Phee was selected among the 30 most emerging innovative companies in the new materials industry. Equally important was the distinction at the Impact Awards of the Hellenic Initiative in 2020.
It is worth mentioning 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 – as well as other companies – which will be auctioned for a good cause.
“We have made a turn as a company in the last two years. We completely changed our strategy and instead of promoting utility products, we focused on the raw materials that was the source and the motivation for our company activity. I mean the construction of our panel that is made by using seagrass Posidonia Oceanica from the beaches “said Stavros Tsompanidis at CEOWORLD magazine, adding the following:
“We studied what further applications it could have beyond the personal items and the most important of them proved to be used as a decorative surface in the furniture and in interior constructions in general. In other words, we sell the material to furniture companies, architects and construction companies that use it in their projects. By this way we see the development of our raw material. But at the same time, because we started with the product and we continue to be interested in this industry, we give the material to companies, which design objects and promote them in the market, in collections. But simply in these cases they take our panel as material and use it as they wish through their product collections “.
Continue reading the interview of Stavros Tsompanidis:
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 started another collaboration with a fashion brand, the company Blue in Green Bags who took our material and made it a handle for women’s bag. We also continue to a large extent applications for the hospitality industry. Our material becomes circular products and we have developed a wide range of such products used in hotels, including from catalogs for hotel restaurants, to souvers, 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 United Kingdom. Of course, we also have several hotel groups in Greece that we work with. In general, at the moment our materials, or our products are in several European countries, mainly in Northern Europe and the United Kingdom .
I would also like to mention our cooperation with UK brand Alex Mint for the creation of the collection Oceanides Side tables. The brand combined Phee Board with Greek marble creating a collection of Side tables.
Q: Can you explain us in detail the object of the company?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “We focused on the raw material. The raw material is made through a patented technology we have developed. That’s the way the company started its activity. We first made the raw material and then we applied it to products. In addition to changing the commercial strategy of the company, we have developed new materials in the last two years. We reuse other plant residues that are in abundance.
For example, we work with espresso coffee grounds. We take the espresso coffee grounds that are thrown away and make it a new material. A new raw material. It’s a kind of a panel again, a surface, which has corresponding applications in the furniture industry, in the construction industry, in interior decorations and in different items”.
Q: What are the milestones in the operation of the company all these years?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “It was a milestone 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 to us. Because it gave us an important psychological boost to keep trying.
And right now, in the last two years we have five different materials. We 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 as a milestone. The one is with the Everest group. We return their coffee remains – which we collect in 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 is growing in all its stores. In collaboration with a waste management company, the coffee is collected, some quantity is composted and what remains is gathered by Phee, which makes it raw material, surface, Cophee Board and returns it back to Everest. Already, there have been some promotion stands with this specific material.
Our second collaboration is with a multinational company, which takes materials from us, but I would not like to announce anything more at this time.”
Q: How were the two years with Covid 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 means to grow the company. There are, of course, financial difficulties due to the fact that the market has declined very sharply, especially the hotel tourist market that we approach and rely on. But we managed to stay alive and try to grow.
The food service market with the market of Greek souvenir, which mainly are the two networks where our products are sold, hold a 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 hands is growing our exposure to the construction projects in general”.
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 is the goal. We started with one material and now we have expanded to more. We study further applications in the field of research and development, which is very essential for our company. Gradually, as the demand for green materials and bio based materials rises, we will be able to have a good piece of this “pie”, which is expected to have a significant growth in the coming years”.
Q: How difficult was to proceed with your project in Greece?
Stavros Tsompanidis: “The main difficulty in Greece is that it is a very small market. The country does not support 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 mean both the taxation and the financial part). Lastly, when you want to introduce something brand new that has never been in the market before, this process needs much time to reach success, something that small companies cannot afford”.
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