"If you go with something new on the market and nobody laughs at you, you go late."
Chief Executive Officer - NettleSmart s.r.o
NettleSmart is a Czech biotech startup that has the ambition to bring healthy and affordable food, nutritional supplements, and much more to the European market. The universal raw material on which the business will be based in the healthy and protein-rich nettle.
It is already being used abroad and the start-up Nettle Smart wants to offer it to customers in our market and will capitalize on the untapped potential of nettle. Future plans include cooperation with new investors, expansion into foreign markets, production of nettle foods, and processing of fibres for the textile industry and biofuels. And all this is within the framework of the circular economy!
In this interview with Radomír Eliáš, CEO at NettleSmart, we learn about the innovative usage of Nettles and how it can be interesting for potential investors
Expodia: Hello Radomir, before we talk about NettleSmart and innovation in general, I would like to know more about you. Where are you from, and what is your background?
Radomír Eliáš: I'm from the Czech Republic, originally from Moravia City. I have a tech education. My high school education is in industry programming, and I did these things for many years. So I created some software in Poland, Egypt, and Russia. In 2011, I met with a friend, and he told me about Bitcoin, of course, I said to him that it is nonsense and that it won’t work. But he told me, “Hey, sit on your ass, read the white paper, and you will be a clever guy”. I ended up for actually almost ten years in Bitcoin cryptocurrency. 2015 I built my first startup.
Expodia: What kind of start-up and in which area?
Radomír Eliáš: Area was a payment gateway for Bitcoin. So you need to have comparisons like a check ground, dollars compared to Bitcoin, some banks and databases, and all these things. I built a team and project in 2015. Then I worked on many projects in the cryptocurrency field. For companies, I was a consular advisor. If somebody had a lack of knowledge or was scammed, they called me. Together with the police, I was operating like a detective.
Expodia: Interesting. Many people hear about new ideas and start to doubt them, and in the end, they miss opportunities. Are you always the kind of person who listens to the market and can see a valuable innovative idea,
and you would go for it?
Radomír Eliáš: Yes, I am. After I received the first call regarding Bitcoin, I started to read the white paper of it, then I read other books and not just only economy, not just only maths about how money works, all these things. Preparation is key. I have an interest in the financial market and find out that Bitcoin is something amazing, like a really nice piece of technology. And when you ask if I have an interest in new technologies, new exploration, “YES”, I have it like augmented reality, virtual reality, all these robots, for example, neural languages, programming. I'm discussing with my friends how these things work and how our minds are working. I have some hidden fire, the hidden engine, which pushes me to explore it.
Expodia: I can definitely see that. But now we're talking about 2023. You are the CEO of NettleSmart which has nothing to do with Cryptocurrencies. How did this happen?
Radomír Eliáš: I started my company in 2022 because I was contacted by one person.
Expodia: Is it the same person who has recommended Bitcoin to you?
Radomír Eliáš: Different one. We were actually negotiating with him about collaboration. He needed some help and contacted me in 2019. I was elected vice chairman of the board in his company. I helped him to reconstruct the company, find investors, and more. And then at the beginning of 2022, I had to call out because of the crisis. The situation inside the company changed in the wrong direction. I can work under less financial support, I can work in shitty situations. But I cannot work when somebody doesn't want me to do my job. I always want to give my best. We decided to split our ways. I already invested in the project, a lot of energy, time, and effort. I made with him a deal that I can create my own company, and we will find a way how to collaborate on another business.
Expodia: You switched to another business, and did you have any partners?
Radomír Eliáš: I started this idea with three people on the way, and I ended up with just myself. Now I have Kateřina Švanderlíková for the Marketing Department and one friend. From both, I am receiving positive Feedback and valuable pieces of advice. This was around the end of summer 2022. Until the end of 2022, the team increased to seven people.
Expodia: Excellent! It shows growth from September in one quarter, and that is a good sign for the company. We always say the trend is your friend. But what made you start believing in Nettle, and where do you see the importance?
Radomír Eliáš: Okay, I will try to describe something, how I think, and it's kind of complex. Firstly, if you go with something new on the market and nobody laughs at you, you go late. Secondly, it's my technical point of view. When you have in the team somebody who knows about bioengineering and I start asking, okay, what we can do from the nettle? Tell me everything. We came up with many great ideas. Then I start understanding the potential and check the market and how much it's like made from Nettle, what we can maintain from Nettle, the price, and all these things. And last but not least, money is important.
Expodia: You saw the potential and created the draft of a plan. What did you do first, and which was the first product of NettleSmart?
Radomír Eliáš: We went straight into startup mentality and did scaling before we really started. So, as you said correctly, we made an amazing plan. We asked ourselves, what are the low-hanging fruits? What is it? You must find it at any cost because this is the entry point on the market, and you can start making and scaling up from there. Most essential, I picked up the phone and start calling to find partners and investors. Now we have business partners which dry Nettle, Blanche Nettle, and more. We started collaborating with these companies which are doing aquaponic things for us too. So by calculation, by the interest of the market, and by all this, not stream, we made a forecast of what will happen in the future or how the market is evolving. I find out, or I understood it, that vegan, vegetarian, plant-based food, and biodegradable materials are what we need to focus on right now. Let's try to make some food from Nettle. Our first product was Nettle Syrup
Expodia: For the readers. You gave me a bottle of your syrup and I can highly recommend it. People want to understand when you start your business as a startup, what was challenging? Of course, you mentioned earlier finding an investor but for yourself in this area of business, what was challenging in the food innovation at the beginning?
Radomír Eliáš: It's not food innovation, what is challenging? The challenge is really to show investors that you are not the crazy one. You explain to them that from nettle you can create food to bioplast to biometal, like fertilizers, everything. Then you have to explain the circular economy and all this stuff. So the most challenging part was finding somebody who give me the funds and believed in me as Impact Hub did. Actually, I have to say that acceleration in Impact Hub was something amazing
Expodia: What do you think convinced the investor about your business?
Radomír Eliáš: Okay, maybe this is a question about him, how I convinced him, but if I must answer from my point of view: I was in touch with him during late summer 2022, and I wanted to find out what he thinks, and he should see that I am fully transparent and persistence because I am believing in my project.
Expodia: He saw the fire, which I already see. In my opinion, any future investor who will invest in NettleSmart will get an honest, transparent, hard-working person and team who believe in the future of this product and this company. You had a good feeling about Bitcoin back then, and now you have the same feeling about Nettle. Which are the next steps? Who is your target audience
Radomír Eliáš: We are looking for some beacon or sports people. Somebody, diabetic or no diabetic. In general, we are looking for people who care about food quality, healthy life, and achieving goals and dreams in their life.
They are aware that for this they need enough energy, and a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.
Expodia: We from Expodia are delighted that you are joining the Innovative Digital EXPO. What do you expect from this event?
Radomír Eliáš I expect that we all met with a lot of companies, with a lot of people. We all will make new contacts. The industry will see us, and the potential business partners will see us. All these things. And of course, great party at the aftershow gala.
Expodia: What kind of value can you bring to other companies and partners?
Radomír Eliáš Okay, we can make or create for another company with our business partners some special fruit or food supplement. We can create bioplast which could be nice because some research shows that if you put some micro composite from the Netherlands it is positive for the durability of food.
To our business partners from HoReCa (Hotels Restaurants, Coffee) we are bringing high values nettle products – (high protein, a lot of minerals and vitamins. Anti-inflammatory, support for breastfeeding) New trend is not just only in the Czech Republic
Refer to materials-fiber is strong, durable, have great thermal and humidity isolation characters. Good for jackets, for work-related clothes. To our business partner-better material
And from rest we can make fertilizers and biomethane—to farmers: There is a chance that our fertilizers will be cheaper than artificial fertilizer used by many farmers
Expodia: Are any special products planned for 2023?
Radomír Eliáš: I see for example creams. But this is really close to many commands, and you have to test a lot. So everything you put on a skin, everything which is like in this way, must be tested. Now we're testing stuff for food like the zero pesto listings and then maybe this year we start doing some small production of shampoos.
Expodia: Radomir, in a short. What are the vision and mission of your company?
Radomír Eliáš: Grow up, bring some new stuff with high edit value and really show that circular economy is not bullshit. You can do that. You just must think out of the box, and then you can create one. Plant a lot of things from food to fiber, and bioplast fertilizer.
Expodia: If we were to meet for coffee a year from now and talk about what NettleSmart has already achieved from it. What would you tell me?
Radomír Eliáš: Okay, so we achieved planting aquaponic and bio or bio nettle for nettle in different qualities for different markets. So we are all the time able to put something on the market, and we achieve the market on food. So have really nice contracts and companies and business partners and all these things. And I have it written because I counted something like 1 million Euro cash flow per year, minimally, something like that. And of course, manage, grow up or expand from food to fibers, bioplast, and start with cosmetics.
Expodia: Radomir, thank you very much for the interview
Radomír Eliáš: Thank you, Armin. It was a pleasure and looking forward to the Innovative Digital EXPO.
Mr. Radomír Eliáš was interviewed by Armin Khani
You can meet NettleSmart at the Innovative Digital EXPO 2023 at booth B1