Ag tech veteran David Lee has taken on a new role as CEO and Board Chair at Inevitable Tech Inc., a business-to-business ag tech platform that uses artificial intelligence, plant science and automation to boost farmer profitability and food quality.
Inevitable invents and builds advanced growing systems so farmers can better manage their crops. The Lockhart, Texas-based company's first product is a "Clean Propagation" system to ensure healthy seeds and robust seedling growth.
The majority of vine crops consumed in the United States – nearly 70% – are imported, typically trucked thousands of miles. Even the seeds and seedlings grown on US farms are often imported – and the transportation process exposes them to greater risk of pests and other dangers that can wipe out an entire harvest. Inevitable enables farmers to reduce costs, improve reliability, reduce growing volatility associated with climate change, and boost yield per acre – while shrinking the land, water and energy footprint of crops.
Inevitable's first partner is Revol Greens, an Austin, Texas-based controlled environment agriculture company that produces high-quality lettuce and other greens in high-tech greenhouses using fewer natural resources and no harsh chemicals. Inevitable also has a development agreement with AppHarvest, a B Corp.-certified sustainable food company with 165 acres of high-tech indoor farms delivering salad greens, strawberries, cucumbers and tomatoes to the top 25 grocery store chains, restaurants and food service outlets in North America.
Inevitable's hardware and software can be used on any type of farm – from indoor hydroponic farms and other "controlled environment agriculture" to open-field farming throughout the United States. Inevitable investors include Breakthrough Energy Ventures, At One Ventures, Zero Carbon Partners, R7 Partners, Amplify Partners, Pathbreaker Ventures and Eniac Ventures, among others.
"Inevitable is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to help farmers harness cutting-edge technology to realize urgently needed efficiencies and economies of scale – and we've already started working with partners in controlled environment ag, the most data-rich environment in farming," Lee said. "Even the most advanced CEA farms are looking for a technology partner with the focus and expertise to deliver a transformational effect on their business – from labor costs to quality control, from propagation to harvest."
Uniquely straddling technology and agriculture
Before assuming the CEO and Chair of the Board role at Inevitable, Lee was President of AppHarvest, a Moorehead, Ky.-based indoor farming pioneer. Lee remains a board member at AppHarvest. Under Lee's management, AppHarvest expanded its 60-acre flagship tomato farm in Morehead, Ky. and built out three additional high-tech indoor farms with a diversified crop portfolio. He has also served as a board member at technology startups in CEA, consumer health, and seed technology including Zevia and Benson Hill.
Before AppHarvest, Lee was COO & CFO of Impossible Foods, a Khosla Ventures-, Horizons- and Bill Gates-funded company developing a new generation of delicious, sustainable meat without animal agriculture.
Lee joined Impossible Foods in 2015, led the 2016 commercial launch, and played a leading role in catapulting Impossible to hyper-growth, having overseen global sales, commercial manufacturing and supply chain. Lee successfully grew Impossible from pre-revenue to more than $300M of annualized revenue run rate with double digit annual growth.
Prior to Impossible Foods, Lee was the CFO of Zynga, a $2.3 billion public company, where he led the company's finance and corporate development teams. Before Zynga, he led corporate finance for Best Buy during its turnaround in 2012-2014.
Lee's career uniquely spans and integrates technology and agriculture. From 2004-2012, Lee had leadership roles at Del Monte Foods, including leading the take-private transaction of Del Monte Foods to KKR for $5.5 billion, resulting in over 40% return to shareholders. He led the $2 billion-topline set of brands at Del Monte Foods as SVP of Consumer Products and at various points led strategic planning, government relations, corporate communications and Financial Planning.
World-class team, committed investors, planetary mission
Inevitable uses artificial intelligence, automation and plant science to help growers mitigate the devastating impact of global warming — with the goals of improving food quality, grower profitability and transforming the agriculture sector to carbon negative. In addition to Lee, Inevitable's executive team includes world-class leaders with decades of experience at category-creating companies, technology startups, major multinationals, and global food and agriculture conglomerates.
Chief Legal Officer Myra Pasek oversees legal, people ops and strategic communications at Inevitable. She has held executive roles in legal, government relations, and communications at Impossible Foods, Tesla and Ouster, a lidar and robotics company. Earlier, Pasek practiced law at Latham & Watkins, Orrick, and K&L Gates representing startups, venture firms and some of the largest companies in technology.
Nikki Mostafavi, Inevitable's Chief Financial Officer, is responsible for all financial activities at the company. She previously served as Vice President of Finance at Impossible Foods from its pre-revenue stage to over $300M of annualized revenue with double digit annual growth. Before Impossible, Mostafavi held senior finance positions at technology startup companies including Zynga and Storm8, and before that, managed financial planning for the wholesale and retail divisions of Levi Strauss & Co.
Lucianne (Luci) Kempton, Senior Vice President of Operations, oversees and manages all operations and manufacturing activities of the company. Prior to Inevitable, Kempton held both engineering and operations roles at Procter & Gamble, GlaxoSmithKline and Johnson & Johnson.
Tom Kendall, Vice President of Engineering, leads design and development of Inevitable's innovative hardware and electromechanical systems. He previously managed the hardware engineering team at Matternet, a drone delivery company, where he designed the first commercial UAV to attain an FAA type certification. Previously, at Apple, he worked on global scale manufacturing, developing proprietary manufacturing processes for the iPhone product line. Before Apple, Kendall held roles at companies in the industrial automation, semiconductor, and motorsports industries.
Patricia (Paty) Romero is Vice President of Plant Science. Previously, at Bowery Farming, she was the Head of Growing Operations serving as liaison between the R&D and Production Operations departments in launching Bowery's first and second production facilities. Before Bowery, Romero was Greenhouse Manager and led new crop development at Koppert Cress, a Dutch company specializing in microgreens and edible flowers.
Lucas Ramadan is Inevitable's Head of Software and Data. Previously, he was Lead Data Scientist at Enjoy Technology where he embedded machine learning in product and software development. Before earning his Masters in Data Science from The University of New Haven, Ramadan worked as a Synthetic Chemist for the USDA evaluating biodegradable polymer additives.