Our Future in Hemp: Three Startups and Where We’re Headed


Hemp means a little something different depending on whom you ask. To some, the seeds are a useful culinary additive. Others see the fibers as a textile alternative. Pressing the plant — similarly to how olive oil is produced — produces an oil product with multiple topical first aid uses that many swear by.

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But for these three entrepreneurs, the world of hemp means something specific — it’s a key component of our future on this planet. They see hemp as a plant that provides dozens of different industrial uses alongside its medical benefits, all while being an environmentally sustainable crop.

So who are these “hempies” and what are they bringing to the table?

HempStrong Brands

HempStrong owners Scott Sondles, 27, and Michael Bumgarner, 30, are cousins as well as entrepreneurs. Their grassroots business initiative is an attempt to create local and sustainable business opportunities for their Kentucky and Ohio farmers.

We want to lead the way in the Midwest, educating people and encouraging common-sense legislation to cultivate industrial hemp. We feel like there’s an opportunity with hemp to create jobs and improve the economy. If Ohio legalizes industrial hemp, we could put some small farmers back to work while improving the environment and offering healthy lifestyle products to the consumer.


The Hempitecture team is based out of Idaho, with big dreams on changing the construction landscape. While their current focus is on providing greener and more sustainable material options for builders, they want to implement something bigger into the world of building materials — their own unique matrix option, comparable to concrete.

Because this material is highly insulating, it can reduce the overall energy consumption of the building. Additionally, because hemp has the ability to take an incredible amount of CO2 out of our atmosphere during its growth, it can lend to carbon negative and carbon neutral materials. This means that the material itself sequesters more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere then the production of the material displaces.


At the 2015 ClimateLaunchpad competition in Europe, Slovenian innovators David Gersak, Alenka Zapusek, and Tadej Smrdel presented their own industrial use for hemp — an earth-changing alternative to plastics. By producing a hemp granulate (think teeny tiny plastic-like pods), Konopko is able to to compile eco-friendly and fully degradable materials that easily take the place of everyday plastics.

Both hemp and PLA are simple biodegradable and recyclable materials, replacing non-degradable, plastic and synthetic materials which are known to be agents of various modern day diseases. Konopko Hemp Cooperative will be producing and selling hemp biogranulate to various industries for further production of technical products which are used in automotive, constructing, electronics and packaging industry.


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Want to read more? Check these stories out:

How Legal Cannabis Helps the Economy: Hemp Airplanes

One and the Same: Hemp and Marijuana

Live Free Not High: New Hampshire Shoots Down Cannabis Initiative



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