Ash Patel joins Vestaron in June of 2019 from DOVA Pharmaceuticals. As an accomplished operations director with more than 23 years of experience leading manufacturing, engineering, capital projects, supply chain, and IT/automation systems, Ash will lead the organization as COO. Ash holds a B.Eng from the University of Sunderland and a Masters of Business Administration from the Copenhagen Business School. His background includes global manufacturing and supply chain management experience in multi-national biotech companies and a strong focus on value creation.
Jessica Vanhoy joined the company as Chief Financial Officer in April of 2019. Most recently Director of Financial Planning and Analysis for Dova Pharmaceuticals, Jessica has 20 years’ experience in accounting and finance, fostering teamwork through adversity. She holds a BSBA in Accounting from Appalachian State University, an MBA from Campbell University, and is a certified public accountant in the state of North Carolina.
Anna joined Vestaron as President & CEO and as Board member in April 2018, bringing more than a decade of experience across multiple venture-backed ag-tech companies. Before that, Anna founded and led as CEO the company NexSteppe to develop and commercialize optimized crops for the biobased economy. Previously, Anna led Commercial and Business Development at Ceres, an agricultural biotechnology company and developer of dedicated energy crops. Anna started her professional career at McKinsey & Co., holds a master’s degree in genetics from the University of Michigan, received her J.D. from Yale Law School, and attended leadership programs at Harvard Business School and Yale School of Management. She currently sits on the board of directors for the Biotech Industry Organization and was the 2016 recipient of the Rosalind Franklin award for female leadership in industrial biotechnology.
Ben became a senior VP with Vestaron in 2018 bringing 18 years experience in crop protection sales, marketing and leadership. Ben’s education, including a MBA from the University of North Carolina and BS in Agricultural Business from The Ohio State University, coupled with his previous management positions at Dow, Bayer, Agrium and NutriAg have prepared him for the charge of growing and developing a diverse and effective sales and marketing team.
Mark has more than 35 years of experience in agribusiness with particular expertise in technology integration and commercialization. He is currently President and CEO of S&W Seed Company, a publicly traded alfalfa, sorghum, sunflower and stevia company. He was Chairman of the Board or CEO of Agrivida from 2008 to 2013, a company that is developing and commercializing high-performance products that incorporate novel, regulated proteins precisely engineered for specific applications in a variety of markets, including animal nutrition, bio-based fuels and chemicals, and industrial enzymes. Formerly, he was founder and CEO, from 1999 to 2006 of Emergent Genetics, Inc. an international seed biotech company and from 2009 to the present he is a founder and partner at Colorado Financial Holdings, a private venture investment and family office that specializes in the agricultural, energy and biotechnology sectors. He also has previous founding and management experience in these areas, including from 1987 to 1992 Agracetus (CEO), a plant biotechnology company; from 1979 to 1987 Agrigenetics (Founder and COO), a seed and biotechnology company; and from 2009 to 2014 BioFuel Energy Corp. (Chairman), a corn ethanol company. Mark’s experience includes operations management, technology assessment, business acquisition and divestiture, and international business. He holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Lehigh University and an M.B.A. from The Wharton School of Finance.
Jim Schultz is the founder of Open Prairie and responsible for the management of four private equity funds with investments in innovative technologies including agriculture. Funds invested by Open Prairie have resulted in two successful IPO’s and created over 4,000 jobs across 22 portfolio investments. Jim is a fifth-generation Illinoisan, agribusiness entrepreneur, and private equity executive. He has owned three proprietary soybean seed companies and three ag-chemical companies along with farmland in the Midwest and Brazil. He also was appointed to lead the State of Illinois’ Department of Commerce and oversaw business development along with Trade Missions to Japan, China, Canada, Germany and France. Jim earned his MBA in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Northwestern University, a J.D. Degree in Corporate Finance from DePaul University, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
Ron Meeusen, PhD is a Managing Director of Cultivian Sandbox and Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Cultivian Ventures. Ron is a Ph.D. plant physiologist who spent 25 years leading corporate R&D in the crop protection and seeds industry. Starting his career just as biotechnology became a field, Ron lead research programs from some of the first genetically engineered corn hybrids to marker-assisted breeding and novel healthy oils. In 2008 Ron left Dow AgroSciences where he had been leading agbiotechnology and formed one of the first private venture capital funds focused solely on food and agriculture. Today Cultivian Sandbox Ventures is investing from its third fund, having supported 22 agtech startups over 10 years. Besides his role as Director at Vestaron, Ron chairs the board of Agrivida Inc., and serves on the boards of Asilomar Bio, enEvolv, and AbCelex.
Keith Gillard is General Partner at Pangaea Ventures, the world leader in advanced materials venture capital. Keith was President of BASF Venture Capital America from 2006-2010, establishing its Silicon Valley office and leading several direct and fund investments. Previously, he was responsible for Mitsubishi Corporation’s Canadian venture capital activities. Keith began his career in investment banking and as an entrepreneur in software and media. Besides his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Vestaron, Keith is director of the Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, and board observer to NewLeaf Symbiotics. He is an advisor to the World Economic Forum on collaborative innovation in chemicals and materials, an expert panelist for the Global Cleantech 100, and sits on the access to capital advisory council of BC Tech.
Elin is a veteran agricultural and management executive with more than 30 years of senior leadership in corporate, government and nonprofit sectors. Her leadership in the Crop Protection sector included serving as President and CEO of Arysta LifeSciences, Vice President of Asia Pacific and Pest Management for Dow AgroSciences and Chair of the Board of Marrone Bio Innovations. Elin also has served in public affairs leadership roles for EPA, and as Global Vice President of Public Affairs for Dow Chemical. Elin is founder and owner of UmpquaNut Farm and Umpqua Vineyards, growers of high-quality hazelnuts and wine grapes. She currently chairs Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture, an international non-profit based in Washington, D.C. and Brussels, and serves on various other not for profit boards.
Phil is a Founding Partner at Anterra Capital where he currently leads Anterra’s US office. He invests primarily at the intersection of life science technologies and agriculture with a strong focus on genetics, crop protection and animal health innovations. Besides his role as Board member at Vestaron, Phil currently represents Anterra on the Boards of Caribou Biosciences, Agrimetis, and Enko Chem. Phil has 10 years of investment experience having previously worked at Rabobank International and Atlas Ventures. He started his career at McKinsey & Company following a degree in Chemical Engineering and Pharmaceutical Chemistry.