Exhibitor Interview: Alessandro Grampa, Hexagro Co-Founder & Business Development Lead
Tell us about Hexagro
Hexagro envisions resilient food systems empowered by urban farming
communities. We create vertical farming technologies, services, and interactive
experiences to promote the urban farming lifestyle, enabling anyone anywhere to
grow nutritious food and improve their wellness.
Hexagro has 2 product lines, one is better suited to outdoor spaces and the other is
specifically for interior use.
Poty – is the first vertical garden that teaches you how to grow, fitting the smallest
of spaces, it is designed primarily for flats and people dreaming of a garden but with
no space for it.
The Living Farming Tree – is the most advanced indoor garden for commercial
spaces, its design inspired by nature brings green and wellness into any interior.
Are your products aimed at consumers only?
For the Poty product line, we currently sell to consumers via retailers and online
channels but we also saw tremendous growth in the Education and Real Estate
channels. For the Education channel, Poty is the perfect product for primary and secondary schools, it’s offered with both hardware and software modules and the Hexbee App is used
by teachers to educate the new generations on the importance of urban farming
and healthy food.
For the Real Estate market, Poty is offered as a decorative green element to
outdoor spaces, both residential rooftops, office/hotel terraces and more. Poty is
flexible in size and installation requirements, giving anyone the chance to grow in
small spaces or move the systems around when needed to create new space
What are the key trends in the hydroponics sector?
The hydroponics sector saw tremendous growth pre-covid, and more so during the pandemic, with the b2c segment booming exponentially. We've seen different categories of products related to indoor gardening at home experience high demand from literally one day to another especially during lockdown. This is still the case now but the rate of growth is not as rapid as witnessed during the pandemic.
But the market is still very strong and we've seen two clusters of products in demand - the ‘click and grow’ type product which are very small gadgets for the kitchen counter and other very small spaces, and the Tower garden product. The appetite for larger units comes from customers that want to go beyond a very small gadget and grow more fresh food at home where space can be limited. Growing vertically makes everything much easier. The technology in these products is relatively low level but it allows a lot of automation tasks like irrigation, nutrition, calibration and so on that would otherwise demand a lot of the user’s time.
Which products will you showcase at Channel Summit EMEA?
We will showcase our fastest growing product, the Poty, and we will also bring some graphic material for our indoor B2B product line, the Living Family Tree.
Which countries in the EMEA region are you targeting and any particular
channels you are looking to develop?
Our immediate focus is on the Mediterranean region, specifically countries that have a similar climate to Italy. For the second part of the year, we will target Central and Northern Europe. We are developing an indoor version of our Poty line with LED lighting which addresses the issue of natural light being in short supply during the winter months.
We're mostly looking to open up channels with partners that specialise in DIY and garden products - an approach that’s working very well for us in Italy. We're also looking at distributors with concept stores and independent retailers and channel partners that focus on consumer electronics that carry a broad number of categories including home improvement and gardening products.
How important is sustainability to you and your company?
For us, sustainability has always been super important. We are one of the very first to be categorised as a ‘benefit corporation’ in Italy. Since our inception in 2016, everything we do is completely modular in design. Every part can be upgraded and replaced over time, removing the need to replace the product in its entirety. We're also working with recycled plastics; every part of the Poty product line is either made from recycled or recyclable plastic. Later this year, we're going to launch a new version of Poty 2.0. Which will be an even more sustainable version because it will be made from 50% recycled plastic and 50% waste from rice production in Northern Italy.
We design products to last and we have put a real focus on life cycle assessments. We're also working with corporates that are focusing on their ESG / sustainability initiatives and together we make sure that we can support them with products that align with their development goals.
Do you have a structured channel programme? Please explain how you work
with your channel partners
We don't have a specific structure to our channel programme in the sense that as we are just starting to develop markets outside of Italy, we are working directly with new retailers and have started to develop different collaboration agreements on a case by case basis. So we are very happy to have transparent conversations with possible partners and distributors to build up from there together and explore what is going to be the support each side needs to grow the partnership.
Tell us about your social impact work with Urban Farmers?
Social impact is a very important topic for us and it's important that we clarify that we're not just making products, we are creating a movement of urban farmers worldwide to support everything related to the benefits of urban farming for society and the planet. For us, this means access to healthy food, empowerment of social projects in developing countries and communities that need these technologies to withstand climate change. So from a relatively simple product, we are bringing technologies into developing countries with our siembra vertical project which empowers small farmers to grow healthy foods and be very resilient to withstand climate crisis, water shortages, soil degradations and much more.
Hexagro is exhibiting at Channel Summit EMEA 2023. For more information about Hexagro click here