With the rise in awareness of our planet’s environmental future, action is needed yesterday in changing our destiny — not for people living today, but for those who are yet to be born.
This year’s COP26 climate summit in Glasgow has been a positive case in point, with efforts promised coming right across the globe from countries with the financial means and from those with less economic resources as well.
In the private sector, too, we can see an evolution in thinking with companies founded whose focus is on a sustainable future: Singapore’s biotech firm RWDC Industries, France’s Dioxycle, which captures and converts CO₂ into chemical products and Northvolt, a Swedish startup supplying the automotive industry with electric vehicle batteries are three prime examples of a growing number of companies that see a sustainable future as the only route out of the current chaos.
Monarch Tractor, founded in 2017 by Praveen Penmetsa, Zachary Omohundro, Mark Schwager, and Carlo Mondavi, is developing the most powerful, smart, robust, electric tractor in the world. Headquartered in Livermore, California — at the intersection of the tech world of Silicon Valley and the agricultural heartland of the Napa, Sonoma and Central Valleys — the team are counting on
With tractors that are a hundred percent electric, driver optional and data-driven, Monarch Tractor has found a way to create a scenario where farming is both sustainable and economically viable having “eliminated diesel fuel and replaced harmful chemicals with mechanical solutions”, in turn, “impacting the environment exactly as intended, without side effects.”
Monarch Tractor’s pride and joy is the MK-V, a tractor whose power and compatibility provides a robust platform for next-generation smart implements with an industry-leading battery runtime of more than ten hours, powerful torque of between 40 -70 HP Peak, easy, ergonomic controls with the “driver in mind”, an onboard smart screen, and the option for operators to move effortlessly from operating one tractor to managing a fleet of eight tractors on the field via remote fleet management which offers full visibility and control.
The MK-V also allows operators to perform field scouting with no additional cost or effort. The machine automatically performs scouting functions with every pass — unlocking the unlimited potential to leverage data and optimize your operations employing Monarch’s software solutions.
Giving Monarch the financial capacity to develop its IP further has been the $80 million the startup has raised to date. Its last round, a $61-million Series B led by Astanor Ventures with CNH Industrial, At One Ventures, and Trimble Ventures also involved, was finalized in November of this year.
“Fruit and vegetable farmers have long been ignored in the electrification and automation movement, and that’s why the Monarch platform is built with them in mind.
Due to the ever-increasing labour challenges, sustainability concerns, and food traceability and scrutiny issues farmers face, we have experienced great demand for the unique solutions Monarch Tractor offers.”
— Praveen Penmetsa, Monarch CEO and Co-Founder
Monarch’s four-person founding team all bring their own unique flavour and talent to the table:
CEO Praveen Penmetsa has nearly two decades of hands-on experience in translating creative visions into products for startups to Fortune 50 companies alike. He co-currently serves as founder and CEO of Motivo Engineering, a product-engineering firm with clients in the Mobility, Energy, AgTech, and Aerospace sectors.
Penmetsa holds an MSME in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Cincinnati.
Zachary Omohundro is Monarch’s CTO. Over the past two decades, Omohundro has developed hundreds of tightly integrated intelligent electromechanical systems, bringing a full system design perspective to the development of never-before-seen products. Prior focus areas include mining robotics, energy storage systems, electric vehicles, by-wire autonomous cars, and automated agricultural equipment.
Omohundro obtained a Ph.D. in Robotics from The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon.
Monarch’s President is Mark Schwager, who has over a decade of experience leading manufacturing organizations and has developed over 16 million square feet of manufacturing space. Schwager previously served as head of the Tesla Gigafactory, leading the project from concept phase to construction. He also led the operations planning team and built the business systems for Tesla’s Fremont factory and led the manufacturing program for Tesla’s collaboration with Toyota for the Rav4 EV.
Schwager received a BS in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University and an MBA from Washington University in St Louis.
Finally, we have Carlo Mondavi, Monarch’s aptly named Chief Farming Officer. Mondavi is an expert viticulturist with experience in Organic, Biodynamic, and Permaculture Farming. He is a fourth-generation winegrower from the world-renowned Mondavi family and is co-founder of RAEN Winery, as well as a partner at Continuum Estate. Mondavi is the co-founder of the Monarch Challenge, an effort focused on elevating farming by eliminating herbicides and powerful chemicals from farms in Sonoma, Napa and beyond.
Monarch is certainly on to something with its cutting-edge MK-V tractor with its best-in-class plow, till and hauling capabilities, leading us into a more sustainable world and, with it, a better future.