THE STARTUP TRI-VALLEY PODCAST

On Being the Catalyst: Monarch Tractor Co-Founder and President Mark Schwager

Oct 27, 2021

Episode 03

Host Brandon Cardwell speaks with Monarch Tractor Co-Founder and President Mark Schwager about how the electric tractor startup is turning Livermore into ground zero of the food and agriculture revolution. Mark has over a decade of experience leading manufacturing organizations and has developed over 16 million square feet of manufacturing space. Mark 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 held senior roles at Romeo Power and Zoox. Mark holds a BS in Policy Analysis and Management from Cornell University and a MBA from Washington University in St Louis.

Read the Podcast Transcript

Brandon Cardwell  0:02
This is the Startup Tri-Valley podcast, featuring in depth conversations with the leaders who are making the Tri-Valley the goto ecosystem for science-based startups. I’m your host, Brandon Cardwell, Executive Director of the i-GATE Innovation Hub and Daybreak Labs. Welcome to the Startup Tri-Valley podcast. I’m your host, Brandon Cardwell. I’m here today with Mark Schwager, co-founder and president of Monarch Tractor, a Livermore-based company that’s committed to elevating farming practices to enable clean, efficient and economically viable solutions for today’s farmers and the generations of farmers to come. And, in a more fun spin, they’ve been described as giving tractors the Tesla treatment, which we’ll get into a little bit today.  But, Mark, thanks for coming on the show.

Mark Schwager  0:41 
Thanks for having me. Really appreciate being here.

Brandon Cardwell  0:43
Yeah, absolutely. SoI want to start as we always do with a little bit of your background, so you can go as far back as you want professionally, and bring us forward in time to where you are today.

Mark Schwager  0:53
Sure. So I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland, so far from here. My first job was in New York City in manufacturing. So I joined a custom architectural hardware company, which is like, really fancy doorknobs, and hinges and stuff like that. And it was a really interesting opportunity. Because basically, I was kind of given the keys to their factory with about 150 workers in Brooklyn, at the age of 22. And so basically, I ran that factory, we grew so much, this was kind of pre-pre-recession. So we grew so much in the kind of years leading up to the recession, because luxury was in. So the company grew massively. And so I got the opportunity to build my first factory out in Long Island, and continue to grow the company. So I kind of gained all of this really terrific manufacturing experience at a very young age. Then the recession hit, and I went to business school. While I was at business school, there was an opportunity to come out to the West Coast and go on what we call a tech track. And the tech track is basically to come out to Silicon Valley and try to get a job at a tech company. I really wanted to work at Apple. I didn’t get a job at Apple. Yeah. But what I did find out about when I was here, I was staying with some friends, parents, and they gave me this clipping of this article, they were like, you should look into this tiny little company that’s trying to make electric cars here in Palo Alto. And I read the article. And then, you know, I went crazy on the internet, looking at everything that had been written about this company. And I was like, well, that’s for me. So I found the head of manufacturing at the time at Tesla on LinkedIn, and I harassed him on a weekly basis until I got an internship.

Brandon Cardwell  2:58
So that was like 2010-2011.

Mark Schwager  3:01
2010. And so I came for the summer when I was in between my two years of business school. And I’ve worked on doubling the output of the Roadster line, which was the main line that they had at the time. And then came back after business school I led program that that Tesla did with Toyota for 2600 Rav4 EVs, kind of led the manufacturing development side of that, then went and played a role in building the Fremont factory, and then led the Gigafactory, which was investigation of the entire cell value chain throughout Asia, as well as site selection, concept development, designing the factory, building all of the teams that built the factory, and then starting the construction of the factory.

Brandon Cardwell  3:54
So there are a lot of stories floating around about what it’s like to work at Tesla. You were there 10-11 years ago, what was it? What was your experience, like working in that environment with that founder and a company that’s on that trajectory?

Mark Schwager  4:08
So, you know, I’ve had a lot of years now to reflect on my Tesla experience. I left six years ago, I actually looked back on it with extreme fondness. It was the first time I really fell in love with work. And felt like I was really on a mission. Everybody was on that mission. And we are working together against all odds to create something and bring something to market that is truly transformational. And it felt like that for most of the time that I was there. Yes, I had exposure to a very high-pressure work environment. You know, one that was created by its founders. And that, you know, that could mar the experience for at least you know, a part of it. Just being stretched out on a continuous basis and working at a clip, you know, 70-80 hours on average per week, but I got to do things that guys in their late 20s, or gals, just don’t get to do, because I was a part of that company. And that experience has been so valuable, not just for what I’ve been able to do after that experience, but valuable on a personal level, just in terms of accomplishment. So I really look back on my Tesla experiences, first, transformational and second, just incredible achievement.

Brandon Cardwell  5:47
So you left Tesla around 2015. Okay. And you co-founded Monarch in 2019. So were you mostly working on manufacturing and supply chain kinds of projects and companies in the intervening time?

Mark Schwager  6:00
Yeah. So in 2015, I joined Zoox, which was bought out by Amazon last year. Zoox is an autonomous all electric kind of bi-directional vehicle. So a really novel approach that they were taking to all in one autonomy driver solution. And then after that experience, I went back to building battery factories. So I worked with two founders of a company called Northvolt, which is in Sweden.  And they have, I think, started to build cells this year. And they’re going to build a number of gigafactories in Europe. And I think they’ve raised, you know, an unbelievable amount of money by now.

Brandon Cardwell  6:52
Yeah, I’ve seen a lot from them in the past six months or so. It feels like seeing all kinds of headlines from them.

Mark Schwager  6:59
Yeah. So I’m rooting for them. And I think they’re doing incredible things out there. But in the very early stages, it was me and the two founders. And then also built a company in Los Angeles, with a few other folks, called Romeo Power, which went public last year. And so my job was to go build their battery pack factory as quickly as possible. So I built it from basically a garage band company into a facility that’s capable of seven gigawatt hours of production in about 18 months.

Brandon Cardwell  7:38
Very cool. So your background has been entirely in supply chain manufacturing, batteries. Monarch you co-founded in 2019, it’s a tractor company, right? And I was reading a quote from you that Monarch does not make a farm robot, it makes a tractor. And as your first foray into the ag space, I’d love for you to talk about how it’s different creating technology that has to go to work as a replacement for a farm implement, and what it’s like selling to farmers and agricultural users, compared to the other experiences that you’ve had selling battery technology, and things like cars.

Mark Schwager  8:27
I think first and foremost, the tractor is the centerpiece of the farm, which means it’s a commercial vehicle, which means it’s a money making vehicle for that farmer, it’s a lifeblood. And so from that approach, it’s entirely different on how you approach the product. For a car, it’s about pleasure, right? And performance, at least for Tesla. For other companies, let’s say delivery vehicles or something like that. It could be more commercial. But by and large, you know, it’s really about making the best car and best performance. With a tractor it’s about how do we save the farmer the most money? How do we bring features to that farmer that are going to be the most effective from an economic standpoint? And so from that approach, we can talk to farmers and they can say my problems are x, y, and z. And we think, okay, how do we address those problems and farmers are really terrific about being upfront about saying, “I need help with these three things. And if you can do these three things, and you can do them better than I do them today. I can adopt your product.” It’s very black, black and white in from that perspective, which is refreshing. Cause in Silicon Valley, as opposed to kind of where we are here in other valleys in California that are not silicon, you know, farmers really need attention from the technology community. And so the way that we approach the former is,  “How do we fit into your ecosystem?” How do we bring something that fits into your ecosystem, so you don’t have to throw everything away in order to adopt technology. And so from that perspective, it’s incredible to understand those problems, because farmers are, farmers will be open about them. And it’s up to us to come up with something that fits in their ecosystem that addresses those problems.

Brandon Cardwell  10:31
So your founding team at Monarch is sort of a dream team from that standpoint, right? At least looking at it as an outsider, it’s if you were going to build an agriculture technology company, it’s sort of perfect.  Can you talk about your co-founders, and how you guys came together? And how you decided that this farming market was a place that you wanted to go considering that most of the autonomy-tech conversation had been focused on cars and other spaces that were not as traditional and traditionalistic, I guess, as in the agriculture space. So, just give us the Monarch founding story and how you guys came together to focus on this market.

Mark Schwager  11:13
So, I was not the first of us to begin to invest in investigating the space. So Praveen and Zachary, my two co-founders, had been working on electrification and connectivity and tractors, since 2014-2015. So they won a USAID competition called Powering Global Agriculture. And with that, that that victory, they produced three, all electric tractors that were connected, and they built, built these three units and deployed them in an Indian village where if you charge them from solar, they would gain credits for that customer. And then if you depleted the energy, you would kind of lose credit. So this whole credit system with SMS pin codes, kind of unlocked the tractor inside the village, which was really, really interesting. Yeah, but what they, what they learned was one, the tractor was too small, two, it was underpowered three, the battery was too small, four, it didn’t address the driver issue. And the driver issue is bigger from an economic standpoint.

Brandon Cardwell  12:26
So what’s the driver issue?

Mark Schwager  12:27
First of all, within this Indian village, there were only three people who could drive the tractor.

Brandon Cardwell  12:33
Meaning who knew how or had the skill set to do it correctly?

Mark Schwager  12:38
Two was labor quality. So people who don’t know how to drive the tractor or are just learning to drive the tractor could mess up an operation. And then basically, what happened between that deployment, and when we started, the company was all of the development on the autonomy side. So companies like Zoox, and Waymo, all of those sensors, those capabilities, the amount of compute required, from a power standpoint to operate, those all came down and became much more commoditized. So the patents that were applied for on the electrification side had been awarded in 2018. And when I was coming off of my project in Los Angeles, Praveen and I sat down, and we talked about the opportunity. And so what I bring to Praveen and Zachary, who are terrific on the product side, product development, and engineering is the ability to manufacture and scale. So when I looked at the market, I realized that from an electrification standpoint, which is, you know, it’s been my mission for a long time now. It was untouched. There are no electric tractors out there. And I was astonished to actually find out that there were no electric tractors out there. But like, every industry, there needs to be a catalyst. And Tesla’s that catalyst for the automotive industry. Cars have, you know, come around, you’re you’re hearing about Ford making electric F150s. Then, that catalyst moment happened in cars. It’s happening right now in long-haul trucking. And there’s multiple technologies at play. But I do believe that electrification is going to be the winner there. It hasn’t happened yet, in tractors, and we want to be that catalyst, we’re going to be that catalyst. And more on the founder side, between the three of us we realized we had people who can go develop a product and scale it, but we needed the customer perspective. And so we had to find a farmer, and we found a great one. So a mutual friend of mine and Carlo’s introduced us at breakfast one morning. And I realized that this guy was the perfect person to come on as a farmer, and be a part of our team. And the reason that he’s perfect is because he has such an aspirational view of what farming can be. Three years before we met, Carlo started a program with Napa and Sonoma farmers called the Monarch Challenge. And the Monarch Challenge was,  “Hey, rid yourselves of pesticides and herbicides, because they’re killing the monarch population of butterflies here in our state.” And, he realized that the only way that he could do that was by coming up with an automated mechanical solution. Because if you take away the power of chemicals, you have to replace it with labor, and labor on tractors, because you have to do those operations more to keep the vineyard fresh, or at least eliminate the weeds and eliminate the pests using other methods. And, so he was looking for us while we were looking for him.

Brandon Cardwell  16:04
Okay, so Carlo was Carlo Mondavi for our listeners. Mondavi should be a familiar name for those who drink wine. So Monarch came from Carlo’s project, that’s where you guys got the name.

Mark Schwager  16:18
That’s where the name is from. Yeah.

Brandon Cardwell  16:21
So that’s interesting. So if you want to dial down the use of pesticides, you have to dial up the use of human labor.

Mark Schwager  16:26
Correct.

Brandon Cardwell  16:27
And so, Monarch, we haven’t talked about the product that much yet. So maybe we can talk about that now. So how does Monarch Tractor, how does the tractor that you are producing help with that issue?

Mark Schwager  16:40
So what we’ve put on to our tractor, basically, our core pillars are it’s electric, automated, and smart. And so electrification eliminates, you know, emissions. A diesel tractor, just to give an example, is 14 times worse than a car from an emissions standpoint. So it’s a huge impact on that level. And we don’t really know the effect of, you know, diesel exhaust being sprayed on our crops all of these years. I’m sure it’s been significant, but we don’t, we don’t really know what that effect has been. The second is, from an automation standpoint, if you have to use more passes, in order to eliminate weeds, for example, by using a more sustainable technology that increases your labor costs. So that puts more burden on the farmer. So what we can’t do is say,  “Farmer, spend more money.” In order to use sustainable practices, the two have to have to meet somewhere, otherwise, the farmer is going to go bankrupt, because they’re already working on 5% margins in many cases. And trying to meet these sustainability goals, and these, these chemical goals. So what we have to do is make those two things a win-win. And so the only way that we can do that is by providing automation. And that automation isn’t about eliminating jobs. It’s about elevating jobs. Farmers in California, and everywhere in the country, and even everywhere in the world will tell you that there’s not enough labor in the market. It’s especially bad here in California. But it is a national issue as well as a global issue. So what we see from just a labor standpoint, everything that’s happened in the last year between COVID, wildfires, the e-commerce from a labor competition standpoint, all of these things are taking people out of the fields. And so farmers are bearing the brunt of those labor cost increases. A tractor driver in California, our new data point, our data plane last year was $24 an hour. This year, it’s $30. So farmers have to come up with a solution, right?

Brandon Cardwell  18:58
And as you say, so really what you’re advocating for and enabling through Monarch is not the reduction of farm jobs. It’s the enabling and empowering of sustainable practices, because it doesn’t have to require more jobs than the farmer can afford. Right?

Mark Schwager  19:14
That’s correct.

Brandon Cardwell  19:15
Yeah. So I hadn’t thought about that. And I’ve been following Monarch since I found out you guys existed long before this podcast existed, actually. But that’s a really interesting space. And I have my previous professional life, I worked in sustainability program management and policy development. And that is, by far the number one barrier to sustainable practices is, we’ve built margins. As you know, pick your company, we built our margins and our business model to be competitive with others who are in the market. And you either can legislate your way to requiring everybody to do it so that you level the playing field to create better policies. We’ve done that through air regulations, water quality regulations, etc. Because you can’t expect a farmer or any other business to uniformly adopt or, sorry, unilaterally adopt new policies and practices that put them at a disadvantage to their competitors when, unless it creates some other advantage for them in a marketplace. So the ability to help individual businesses make more sustainable decisions, because it’s not going to cost them more money is huge, a huge issue that it sounds like you’re working to solve at Monarch.

Mark Schwager  20:28
Absolutely. And the other part of that is the smarts on the tractor. What we want to do with that is help farmers tell their story about how they produce that crop. And so if they’re elevating the way that they farm, by using more sustainable practices, that’s a story that the customer wants to hear. And if you can tell that story effectively, from the farmer standpoint to the customer, not only can you reduce your costs, but you can also raise your price.

Brandon Cardwell  20:55
So ag[riculture] is a huge category. Is there a particular vertical within ag, a particular crop vertical, where you’re starting out as a company,

Mark Schwager  21:06
We are starting in vineyards, because the challenge in vineyards is super high. You have challenging terrain, you have a challenging crop, if you hit a vine with a tractor, you’ll probably get shot in Napa. So it becomes a high stakes playground for us, if we’re going to deploy an automated solution, an automated tractor, you know, you know, a 5000-pound vehicle into a Napa vineyard. So we like that from a technical challenge standpoint. The other areas that we’re seeing are orchards, stone fruit, fruits and veggies are really our market because they’re their high-value crops, the impact potential is super high. And we see those farmers being early adopters of sustainable practices.

Brandon Cardwell  21:55
Seems like the customers for those products are also ones who may be more interested in the story behind that, especially when it comes to environmental protection, climate change, sustainability, things like that.

Mark Schwager  22:06
Absolutely. Now, when you go to the supermarket, you have clearly delineated areas between organic and conventional. Same thing with meat and fish and all of those things. People actually want that information. So farmers have to bear the brunt of being able to tell that story. And we want to help them tell that story.

Brandon Cardwell  22:26
So that’s a good place for us to lean into your partnership with the Wente family. And how maybe you would have ended up in Livermore anyway. But I think that was certainly a helpful stepping stone to getting you here. So can you talk about how you connected with them and what that partnership was like?

Mark Schwager  22:41
Absolutely. So Carlo Mondavi and I guess the Mondavi family and the Wente family have gone back a very, very long time. There’s only so many wine families in California, they can go back five generations, right. So they’ve known each other for a very long time. And Carlo was able to make that introduction, which was huge for us, because we wanted to find a place where we could essentially pitch a tent. And, we did on their farm, on one day, is literally pitch a tent, and started testing our product on a plot of land that they let us use, basically just on the goodwill of the two families knowing each other. Very early on in the company, I think we only had like three or four employees. And we’ve been there ever since. The Wente family has been huge for us. They have let us observe their operations, talk to all of their people, talk to their mechanics, talk to their operations leaders. They have let us test the product extensively on their property. They have been one of the first to receive one of Monarch’s tractors as part of the Air Quality Management District grant program. So we are definitely in debt to the Wente’s for bringing us into a real farm operation. And that’s the most important thing that that Monarch was able to get out of this incredible relationship was, we knew we needed to be in a real farm if we’re going to deploy a farming solution. It’s silly for us to think that, you know, we can come up with something in Silicon Valley, be a part of the Silicon Valley community and then parachute that solution into farmers and say use it. It’s awesome. That was never our approach. Our approach was always to be as embedded in a farm and testing in a farm from day one. And I think that’s really propelled the company from a development standpoint, from understanding the customer and from having the right approach to how we find the right solution for a farmer.

So you’ve deployed that first unit to Wente. I was there when you did that, that was very cool. So where are you guys now in terms of company development?

So we’re approaching 100 people, 100 employees at Monarch, we’ve taken possession of a 30,000 square foot building in Livermore. We decided that we’re going to build out the company here in Livermore, we see this as the right place for us, because we want to be close to Silicon Valley, so that we can extract people and bring talented people to work on a challenging problem here and here in Livermore. So the idea is to be in a farming community, but be able to tap the technology community for talent. We’re also producing the same series of tractors that we deployed to the Wentes. We’re able to produce one or two per week right now. And we’re continuing to test and refine the product as we get closer to being able to produce at high volume.

Brandon Cardwell  26:07
So you’ve touched on something that is near and dear to my heart in terms of Livermore, and the broader Tri-Valley’s geographic location at the intersection of Silicon Valley, traditional Silicon Valley is thought of as sort of San Francisco to San Jose and, and Santa Clara. And then we also sit at the base of the Altamont Pass. And over the hill is the Central Valley, which is where so much of the food that we eat is produced, but also where increasingly, you have this concentration of high skill, but perhaps lower educational attainment, talent that’s out there. These are people who are very good at doing the things that they do, and may not have master’s degrees, PhDs, or even bachelor’s degrees, but they know how to machine tools, they know how to assemble them, and they have very strong fabrication skills. And of course, it’s not uniformly true. But I think that generally there is this value proposition of Livermore in the Tri-Valley, as sitting at the intersection of the Silicon Valley innovation, ecosystem and talent, and this Central Valley, very production-oriented talent pool going all the way down into the Central Valley. And Monarch is a company that needs both of those skill sets, right? You need incredibly skilled mechanical engineers, electrical engineers, salespeople, manufacturing and supply chain people who have experienced scaling startups, but you also need people who, yes, they need to be able to run, you know, software applications and do diagnostics and things like that. But man, it’d be great if they could weld and also drive a tractor. Right? So you have this unique skill requirement as a company. And it seems like this is a good place for a company like that. Has that been your experience so far?

Mark Schwager  27:57
Actually, 100%. And I come from the manufacturing side. So that was a major consideration of mine when thinking about Livermore. All of those folks do live in the Central Valley. And it’s very production-oriented. One of those things that we can do to make those folks’ lives easier is by giving them a shorter commute.

Brandon Cardwell  28:15
Absolutely.

Mark Schwager  28:16
And that was a major consideration of ours when thinking about where to locate the company. So we’re literally right next to the Pass. We couldn’t get over to the other side, because we wanted to be a part of Livermore.

Brandon Cardwell  28:26
Yeah.

Mark Schwager  28:27
But I, I’ve experienced firsthand just during my time at Tesla of when we were building our novel product in only Palo Alto, even pre-Fremont. And we had people commuting from Modesto.

Brandon Cardwell  28:40
Yeah.

Mark Schwager  28:41
And I didn’t want people to have to make those sorts of decisions. And I wanted people to, I wanted it to be kind of this common site where we can get people from both valleys into this valley.

Brandon Cardwell  28:52
Right. So I run the Daybreak Labs incubator, which is focused on these kinds of life sciences, deep tech, ag tech, manufacturing-oriented technology companies. And that’s a major reason why we, meaning my city partners in my lab partners, have been making these investments is we’ve not done a very good job of managing the cost of living in the Bay Area. And that means that for a lot of people who have a very high level of skill, they’ve still had to, or chose to, for quality of life reasons, move over into the Central Valley where a dollar stretches a little bit further. And so here in this area, you can attract all of the traditional Silicon Valley skill sets reverse commute into our region and give those people coming from Mountain House, Tracy, Modesto, Manteka, Patterson etc. that shorter commute just over the hill, into Livermore into the surrounding Tri-Valley and build some really interesting companies that are are deeply embedded in the innovation community, but to manufacture products in the real world, have to assemble things, have to put things together on a factory floor. I think that’s an area where we see there being a huge competitive advantage for this region with these science and engineering-based startups that are working with, you know, that are fabricating and producing products here in the real world, which I know is important to you coming from the manufacturing side.

Mark Schwager  30:16
Yeah, we fit that mold perfectly. And we’re excited that we made this decision because it’s proving, we’re proving ourselves right every day as we are able to attract people from both sides of the hill.

Brandon Cardwell  30:31
Right. So, this was good timing. I’m meeting with a cohort at Las Positas College, our local community college here, coming up in the next couple of weeks to talk about how to help the business community here. And in particular, the tech community sees the community college as a partner, as part of the ecosystem of producing talent. So how do you look at that, as a company that is scaling into a sector that largely hasn’t existed? Right, we talked about this at the beginning that the farming needs within the autonomy space, it really goes on completely unaddressed. And Monarch is a catalyst for change in that regard. But that could mean having to kind of hybridize some skill sets from people. So where are you seeing challenges in terms of just finding the kind of talent that you need? And you know, whether you’re training people up internally, or looking to recruit from places that are providing that kind of training, like the community college system? How do you think about that, in terms of getting the talent you need to grow?

Mark Schwager  31:38
Yeah, I think there’s a, there’s a couple of things there. One is, we’re in a very, very hot labor market right now. So there’s tons of competition out there. And so the way that we want to really approach the people that we bring is, are they mission-oriented? Are they going to really see this as, you know, a great opportunity to apply the skills that they’ve gained, when somebody is really mission-focused? It kind of can eliminate other potentially advantageous things, that a company that, let’s say, is working on a car or something like that can offer a car might be cooler than a tractor. But if you’re focused on the mission of farming, that should win out.  The second is, we see the skills that we need kind of focused around troubleshooting and being able to think critically about problems. So whether you’re a hands-on person and a technician, or if you’re an engineer, the critical thinking capability that we look for is, can you solve problems? On whatever you’re working on? Are you someone who has to go through the motions? Or are you somebody who can look at a problem and say,”I can solve that.” And so what we’re looking for specifically is that problem-solving critical thinking capability, because that is truly valuable. Whatever the job may be. So we don’t really have a strong opinion on where that person comes from. But that’s the key skill set that we look for.

Brandon Cardwell  33:16
Yeah, when I talk to younger people, I used to be one of those younger people. We all do. Yeah, I think you and I are about the same age. I just turned 38.

Mark Schwager  33:15
I’m 37.

Brandon Cardwell  33:16
Yeah. So. Talking to 21-22 year olds that come out of college is like, okay. That resourcefulness is definitely the thing that I, I pitched to them more than anything else. It’s like your technical skill set is great. And that will open some doors for you. But if you really want to excel within companies, especially within startups, you need to be able to do a whole bunch of different things and really do them with minimal supervision. You need to be able to think critically and solve problems. As you pointed out, I think it’s, I was talking before we started recording, I have two kids, 11 and 13. And that’s one of the things that the joy of figuring things out is one of the greatest gifts I think we can give to our kids into the students who are educating to be workforce-ready, as increasingly I think college degrees will take a backseat to what can you do, and the proof of work and ability to to be valuable within a firm. So I think that’s a really important lesson for people to take away from that.

Mark Schwager  34:21
Absolutely. Working on that with LEGOS with my own.

Brandon Cardwell  34:26
I’ve done that, too. So I like to finish the recording with asking everybody looking out 10 years, what do you see as the greatest opportunity and the greatest challenge that your company will face that the region will face however you want to take that question and given your relatively new location here in the region, what do you think over the next 10 years is going to be your biggest challenge and biggest time opportunity.

Mark Schwager  35:01
The 10 year is, you know, can we turn this ship? The, you know, the agriculture sector, globally produces 20% of greenhouse gas emissions. And it’s a lot of momentum, and it’s growing faster, and the population of the world is growing considerably. And can we do enough in that amount of time to really turn the ship and be the catalyst. I don’t want just like Tesla didn’t want to be a niche company. I don’t want to be a niche company. I want to be a catalyst. And so I think that’s the greatest challenge and the greatest opportunities being that catalyst. And so Monarch sees the opportunity for its technology to be on more than just the tractors that that monarch makes. Monarch sees the opportunity to put technology on every tractor that’s produced. So we can really be a part of this change. And in order for that to work, a lot of things have to go right. And, but, we think we have the right team, the right technology, and we’re here at the right time to be able to do that.

Brandon Cardwell  36:09
Well, it’s been really exciting to watch the growth just over the last couple of years. And I’m excited to watch what happens next for you guys. And Mark Schwager. Thanks for coming on the Startup Tri-Valley podcast.

Mark Schwager  36:19
Thank you so much. And thank you for having us. And we’re again, very, very excited to be here in the Tri-Valley and in Livermore.

Brandon Cardwell  36:21
Great:-)

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