A 24-year-old Greek innovator who devised a way to utilize washed-up seagrass has made it onto this year’s prestigious Forbes list of 30 European entrepreneurs under the age of 30 who are shaking up their respective sectors in 2018.
Stavros Tsompanidis is the founder of PHEE, a company based in the western port city of Patra that manufactures gift boxes and accessories from dead Neptune grass (Posidonia oceanica), hailed by Forbes as being one of the “first to turn this plant into a useful product.”
The 24-year-old, who also recently received the prize for best startup in sustainable development at the Startup Greece Awards, was named in the Technology category of the Forbes list, which comprises a total of 10 areas of expertise, also including entertainment, science, finance, and law and policy.
PHEE was founded back in 2015 by the University of Piraeus financial management graduate, who is CEO and head of marketing, and Nikolaos Athanasopoulos, an engineer from the University of Patras who is the company’s production manager.
Today, PHEE manufactures a series of sustainable and attractive products using phee-board, an innovative cellulose-based material made of seagrass with multiple applications. Among PHEE’s best-sellers are its cell phone cases, luxury gift boxes and beach tennis paddles, while it recently launched an eyewear line in cooperation with Zylo, another Greek startup that produces wooden frames and is based on the island of Syros.
Thanks to the positive environmental impact of the company’s activity, as it helps utilize thousands of tons of seaweed that washes up on the country’s beaches every year in a sustainable manner, PHEE enjoys the support of the Angelopoulos Foundation, The People’s Trust and BlueGrowth Piraeus.
“This distinction represents a small moral victory for the team, for everything we have accomplished so far, but also gives us a sense of responsibility,” Tsompanidis was quoted by the ANA-MPA news agency as saying in response to the award.
“We want to keep trying to make seagrass known globally by promoting the principles of recycling and the reuse of materials that are found in abundance all around us.”
In the law and policy category, 27-year-old Kristina Tremonti was awarded for developing the crowdsourcing platform Edosa Fakelaki (I Paid a Bribe), allowing citizens to report corruption in Greece.
Tremonti, who graduated from Yale with a BA in political science before receiving her master’s at the University of Stockholm, started the initiative after having to bribe a public hospital to get treatment for her grandfather for prostate cancer.
“Feeling powerless in the face of an illegal system so well established, I felt the urgency for change and to give a voice to all those who had felt just as victimized as my grandfather,” Tremonti wrote in an op-ed in the Guardian in 2012 on the occasion of the platform’s launch.