Scaler Interview: Phee
Field of work: Environment, Design & Innovation
We had the pleasure of interviewing Haris Ninios, Founder of Phee
What is Phee about?
After 2 years of Research & Development, PHEE is the first company worldwide to ever introduce into the market a natural bio-based composite material, for the development of which, dead leaves of the vascular sea plant Posidonia Oceanica are used as raw material. Posidonia Oceanica is annually washed up in abundance on the Mediterranean shores and is, according to researchers, one of the oldest living organisms on Earth. Currently there are 6 people working on this company.
What is the story behind its creation?
We started 2 years ago when we saw the problem seagrass causes to municipalities and we decided that we had to do something about it. PHEE’s social mission is to recycle the dead leaves of sea plants, such as Posidonia Oceanica, which decompose before the winter season, and dead biomasses (dead seaweed tissues). Unfortunately, seagrass biomass waste has not yet been of efficient use in the markets. Some is incinerated on the beaches, whereas the rest of the quantity is collected by local municipalities and is then incinerated on landfills, ultimately leading to a substantial budget allocation. According to our research, the collection and incineration of seagrass biomasses in Greece costs approximately 30.000 euros for each coastal Municipality.
How does the Phee team look like?
Currently there are 3 people working full time and 3 people part time.The two founders, Stavros Tsompanidis & Haris Ninios, are in charge of supervising Partnerships, Sales, Public Relations, Product Development, Branding and finally the Financial and Economic Planning. Dr. Nikos Athanasopoulos is Head of the Research and Development Department, responsible for the material and production line development, together with our strategic R&D partners.
What is the social impact of Phee
The main objective of our company is the development of eco-friendly composite material products which incorporate Natural waste (Posidonia Oceanica) and bio-based thermosetting resins or biodegradable thermoplastics. The Posidonia Oceanica composites could find a plethora of applications in different fields, varying from gadget, furniture and architecture to thermal and acoustic insulation panels, where the unique design as well as the weight and stiffness are crucial parameters.
The effective cost of dead sea plants collection is an annual €30,000 per Municipality. This information has been verified by the questionnaires/forms filled by them. A rough calculation regarding only the coastal Municipalities of Attica (25 in total) yields a €750,000 cost for the collection and a €124,000 cost for the landfill reposition, something which heavily burdens the Municipalities’ budget. By using the dead leaves of the angiosperm Posidonia Oceanica, legally & directly supplied by the Municipalities, our company contributes to the decrease of waste volume, the increase in recycling, the lessening of CO2 emissions and the conservation of public financial resources (sanitary reposition cost).
Concretely, what is the process between sea plants collection and cellphone cases production?
Each year the coastal municipalities collect enormous amounts of these raw materials. We have signed contracts with them in order to acquire these quantities. The next phase is the processing of this raw material in order to clean it. Then, using our own manufacturing process, we press the seagrass combined with bio based resins and we create the eco panels and store them. In order to create the Iphone cases, we cut the panels using CNC cutter and at the end, we assemble and package the final product.
How did you finance the Research and Develoment
Until now we finance the R&D through private capital and smart money from business competitions. If we launch our first product successfully, we are going to reinvest the money in R&D.
What do you want to achieve by being part of the Scaling Program?
We want to find strategic partners and retailers to distribute our products.
A random fact about Phee that everybody should know:
We love Sea Grass