Business Spotlights: Hemp Heros

Business spotlight - Hemp Heros

Making sustainability a key metric and driver for business success

Hemp Heros is Europe’s leading seed-to-shelf hemp company based in the heart of Wicklow, established in 2018. The B-Corp-certified brand manufactures a range of healthy hemp-based products in their HSE-approved facility. Their products are made using a patent-pending cold press technology to ensure they meet the Novel Food Standards. All products are made using industrial hemp which means they have no intoxicating effect whatsoever. 

Laying the foundation for a thriving hemp business 

David Hartigan, CEO and Founder of Hemp Heros talks about his professional background which laid the foundation for establishing his thriving hemp company: “I completed an Undergraduate Degree in Business Management. When I finished the programme, I wasn’t completely sure what I wanted to do so I started looking into doing a Master’s Degree”

He continues: “I was very fascinated with the area of business consultancy so I decided to do a Master’s in Management Consultancy at UCD Smurfit School. I applied for the Aspire Scholarship and was very fortunate to be selected. The scholarship is awarded to only 12 people each year and they specifically select individuals who they believe have the potential to be future business leaders.” 

After completing his Master’s Degree in Management Consultancy, David went to work at PwC for six and a half years. During this time, he worked across a number of different areas but primarily finance. He established Hemp Heros in his second year of working with PwC but at the time, it was more of a side hustle managing athletes. 

Diving deep into the captivating world of hemp 

David explains: “I ended up managing two professional fighters, one in the UFC and the other in Bellator. The two lads got sponsored by Cannabidiol (CBD) companies and when I received the products, I was quite disappointed with the packaging, pricing, and even the quality of the products. I was surprised at this because, at the time, there was such an appetite for CBD products. This is when I decided to look into the industry and learn everything about CBD and hemp.”

It wasn’t long before David became incredibly fascinated by hemp, its rich history, and untapped potential. Hemp has been around for thousands of years and has purported 50,000+ beneficial uses. For example, there are records of hemp being used in ancient Egypt for ropes, sails, oil, food, and even as an ingredient in medicine. 

Through his research, David discovered that hemp is also a very easy crop to grow. It doesn’t require much water and can grow in pretty poor soil conditions. Moreover, it has several interesting use cases, particularly in the area of climate and sustainability. For instance, it can be stored and used for building materials or be used to capture carbon. Not to mention, hemp seeds can make for an excellent animal feed. 

Leveraging a hero product and finding ways to shine

After conducting all of this research, David grew more fascinated by hemp. Recognising it as a true hero, he launched his very own hemp company with a fitting name. David shares: “We launched in November 2018 with four white-label products. I was very new to the industry so it was easier at the time to work with a company that could manufacture the products and then simply add our branding. There was huge interest from people; they loved the quality of the products. Due to this and learning more about CBD and hemp over time, we then decided to take the manufacturing in-house to grow the brand. If we’re not manufacturing our own products, we can’t stand over them. At this point in our journey, we’ve come full circle in how we’re creating our products and are working directly with farms in Ireland and across Europe.”

He says: “We’re doing everything from seed to shelf and have 27 different products in our range. This includes CBD chocolate, Hemp Tea, CBD Oils, and even dental sticks for dogs made from organic hemp. Most CBD is extracted with solvents and this process requires a lot of energy. This is why we have chosen to go solvent-free.” 

Hemp Heros developed their own manufacturing process that allows them to produce a really high-quality product without solvents or harsh chemicals. This method is more energy-efficient and produces a better end product. David says: “Our oils are really dark but most CBD products you see on the market are golden in colour. CBD is meant to look dark and this shocks people anytime we are at events.”

He adds: “Hemp is a dark green plant. The more you process it, the lighter it gets and the less effective it becomes. Therefore, the darker the CBD, the better quality product and this is generally credited to a clean manufacturing process. 

Becoming trailblazers in the industry and giving back 

One way Hemp Heros has managed to differentiate itself from other hemp brands is by conducting clinical studies. They just completed a pain management study in dogs with the UCD Veterinary Hospital. The study will be published in two months’ time. They are now beginning to study anxiety in dogs. This study will feature 40 dogs and they will measure anxiety levels through their blood. Some dogs will receive the CBD while others will get a placebo and they will compare the difference. 

Hemp Heros also has a Give Back programme where they deliver free products to animal rescues each month. They work with several animal welfare charities across Ireland and the UK. Some of the charities include Husky Rescue Ireland, Wicklow Animal Welfare, Galway SPCA, Dogs Angels Ireland, the DSPCA, Dogs in Distress, and Irish Guide Dogs. The organisation dedicated to the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick, injured, and orphaned seal pups, Seal Rescue Ireland is also currently using Hemp Hero products. 

Challenges and goals for a bright future ahead

David shares that the primary challenge Hemp Heros has faced on their sustainability journey has been packaging and waste: “We want to do things as sustainably as possible. We’ve already started to transition our packaging to more sustainable options and address our waste. For instance, our calming dental sticks are made with leftover hemp material. We’re currently working to completely eradicate plastic from our packaging and get materials that are fully recyclable and have as low shipping miles as possible.”

Davids adds that the business does face challenges due to the stigmatisation of hemp and CBD due to its distant relation to cannabis. Hemp Heros work directly with farms in Ireland and Europe to get their hemp seeds for their products. However, as they enter new markets, they are looking to set up manufacturing in the US. In terms of the next sustainability goals for the company, David says: “We want to move to a larger facility and install solar to reduce our energy consumption. The overarching goal though is to go purpose-built and become self-sufficient.” 


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Business spotlight - Hemp Heros

Business Spotlights: Hemp Heros

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