CEO Spotlight: Nikos Koutsianas, Founder of Symbeeosis/ Founder of Apivita
“The way to a better life with health and in harmony with nature is symbiosis.” The new business venture of Nikos Koutsianas and his wife Niki Koutsianas—after Apivita—is based on this philosophy and is called Symbeeosis. The name combines the word “symbiosis” in Greek—the harmonious coexistence of organisms—with the bee, nature’s most important pollinator and a model of cooperation. The brand name encapsulates the values of the founders and their love of people and nature. This message is clear even in its packaging: “Love yourself, Love your planet.”
“What we are creating now is a leap from Apivita. Then we were focused on the natural, now we are focused on biological plus through the creation of a new innovative business: the regenerative business, “said Nikos Koutsianas in the CEOWORLD magazine.
The family follows the model of a regenerative economy and business through regenerative agriculture and regenerative beekeeping. The 6 principles that apply to regenerative agriculture are: understanding the context of your farm operation; minimizing soil disturbance; maximizing crop diversity; keeping the soil covered; maintaining living roots year-round; and integrating livestock.
Mr. Koutsianas is a man with great experience in nature. He has been in nature since his childhood. “I have heard the buzz of bees since I was a small child. I know the scent of thyme very well. That’s why when my R&D Department creates something, they come and tell me to smell it. Because nature is in my DNA, “he added.
Trying to explain the company’s operating philosophy, he added: “We adhere to our level of ethics, responsibility, and uniqueness, and not just as a marketing tool, but because that is what we truly believe in. We love what we do, and want to add value to the planet through symbiosis. For us the main Ps are; people, planet, purpose, platforms, and personal responsibility in addition to price, place, promotion, and product. Furthermore, we integrate technologies that increase quality both in the product itself and in our lives. “This is symbiosis,” he emphasized.
Going back in time to the years of Apivita, he clarified that, “When we entered pharmacies with Apivita, they sold only medicines, and not cosmetics. We launched a line of natural organic cosmetics that smelled of thyme, for example. This was remarkable in a period when everyone else was just imitating each other. We believed that the area of health should also be one of beauty and well-being”.
His inspiration was drawn from Bees, the Greek Biodiversity and Hippocrates, the father of medicine, who said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food”.
Through his experience as a pharmacist, Mr. Koutsianas didn’t give people pills for treatment, he gave them tea or chamomile. “It was difficult to convince them about the effectiveness of the herbs when people were completely cut off from nature. What matters is your belief in what you do. I had a vision to make the pharmacy a place of health, beauty, and well-being”, he added.
Do visions lead to success? What has Mr. Koutsianas to say about this? “The issue for us today is the momentum the company is developing. We are not in this business to make money; we are doing it to be a model for the younger generations and show them that success comes from vision, passion and performance. I believe in the younger generations, who have to lead the way ahead”.
Turing to Greece as the source for his inspiration and products, he commented: “Our country has an incredibly rich diversity of plants, home to 6,774 species of plants, of which 1,490 are endemic”.
Symbeeosis produces functional, essential for living and nutrition, food supplements, honey and tea. The products are 100% natural and organic, made with Greek ingredients and produced with care for people and respect for the planet. The brand has launched organic nutritional supplements, Greek organic mountain tea, Greek organic herbs, and Greek organic honey. Their herbs and honey are cultivated from Mount Olympus to Crete. They try to work with young farmers while at the same time giving the beehives to young beekeepers.
The whole production is being run at a Smart factory at Markopoulo, Attiki, and it is free of plastics. They recycle – reusing almost 200 kg of honey, composting 26,000 tea bags per year and saving about 8000 Kwh per year thanks to solar panels.
Symbeeosis has its flagship store at Athens airport “Eleftherios Venizelos”, but all the products are available in pharmacies, organic stores, supermarkets, and hotels across Greece, as well as at Holland and Barrett in Cyprus and in e-pharmacies in Spain and Germany. Mr. Koutsianas also hopes to approach other international markets.
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