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Karn Manhas steps down as CEO of Terramera
Manhas will remain on the board as executive chair and announces Nate Kelly as new CEO.
Karn Manhas, 13-year CEO and founder of agtech venture Terramera, has chosen to refocus his role and joins the board as executive chair. Terramera recently hired veteran U.S. technology executive Nate Kelly to lead the company. Kelly brings 20 years of experience building, leading, and scaling companies such as Tesla, Microsoft, and Glowforge. In an email to investors, Manhas cited this as an “inflection point for the company” following a “challenging” past few months for the firm.
Manhas first came to prominence at age 24 as the youngest MLA elected in B.C in 2001. He founded Terramera in 2010, after developing a pesticide-free solution to bedbugs in his garage. The company shifted its industry focus to agriculture and raised a USD $10 million Series A in 2016, followed by a USD $48.5 million Series B in 2019 under the premise of reducing synthetic pesticides via its proprietary technology.
“I’ve had the honour and privilege to lead our team, which has worked tirelessly to answer our core question: How can we use technology to harness the intelligence in nature so we can build an Earth that thrives and provides for everyone?” Manhas stated in his email to investors. To date, Terramera holds an intellectual property portfolio with over 340 patents.
Manhas detailed to Vancouver Tech Journal about the company’s difficulties over the past few months. “Last summer, we had financing that fell through last minute and threw the company into a bit of a tailspin. It was quite unexpected,” he said. “From there to where we've gotten [today], I think it's positive for the company. It’s forced us to look at the fact that as a company, a lot of people don't know what we do because we do so many different things. We're so highly technical, and we were trying to run what was really many businesses in one business.”
As a result, a spinout of the company’s soil health business was successfully financed with USD $6 million dollars as a new subsidiary. It was first announced in January as enrichAg, and has since rebranded as Mirratera. Terramera also closed a bridge financing note two weeks ago.
“After we did that, I thought — okay, I've got the company onto good financial ground again,” said Manhas. “It felt like the right time to hand off the operational piece and building of the company, commercially, over to Nate. He's got that experience. I'll still work with him, but we need that kind of talent to step up to the next level and make a global impact.”
Kelly, the new CEO, has already worked with Manhas over the past few months to build Mirratera. “From the moment I met Nate, I knew he was an incredible fit for the team and that his vision aligned with ours,” stated Manhas in the email. “He’s had a front-row seat to numerous industry transformations and brings to Terramera deep experience in helping disruptive Tech companies scale their commercial business.”
Manhas cited Kelly’s experience scaling supply chains at tech companies across a wide range of sectors — such as leading the supply chain for Tesla’s Model S — as well as “formative years living in and contributing to agricultural communities in Columbia, the United States and Canada,” as valuable to the role. Kelly is currently based in Santa Barbara, according to LinkedIn.
Current executive chair of the board, Jeff Booth, will remain on the board of directors as a senior independent non-executive director.
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