Michael Clayton guides the day-to-day business operations of AgStart, supporting our start-up company clients, coordinating with our partner organizations, and working closely with our government and private sponsors. He is responsible for implementing a strategy that will increase the pace of technology innovation in Agriculture, Food and Health in our Northern California / Greater Sacramento region. Michael has over 20 years of domestic and international experience in the social venture space, as both an entrepreneur and a consultant. He has led two early-stage start-ups, including one that pioneered traceability technologies in the food space. Over the years, he has worked with numerous clients in assessing and growing innovative business opportunities in the Ag | Food | Health space.
Sudhee Lakshama serves as AgStart's Lab Manager, working directly with our client companies to support their work and overseeing the lab. Sudhee joined LabStart in June 2022, bringing a background of work in academic labs and his own start-up to AgStart. Sudhee's background includes a stint at UC Davis as a postdoc in 2009, working on nano-photonics. In that period, he discovered his entrepreneurial DNA and co-founded Sonanutech Inc with Prof. Ian Kennedy, raising over $1.3 million in grant and $100,000 in industrial support for the rapid bacteriophage test. Since 2019, he has been working as an instructor and program director at Carrington College. He brings with him a passion for science, technology and instrumentation, along with the experience of building and managing a biotech lab. He has served as a principle investigator and as a reviewer for National Institute of Health and National Science Foundation grants. He is the recipient of the prestigious Alexander-von-Humboldt fellowship. Sudhee holds a PhD in Materials Chemistry from India.
board of directors
John Selep serves as President of the AgTech Innovation Alliance, the 501(c)3 non-profit behind AgStart. As a business consultant, investor, and technology executive, John has worked with dozens of startup companies launching new technologies in the Agriculture, Food tech, and other technology domains. John is a frequent mentor at AgStart Office Hours and AgStart founder education workshops. John is also a Board Director for the Sacramento Angels, a regional investor organization, and is a Principal Advisor through LARTA to numerous startup entrepreneurs associated with USDA SBIR awards.
Ken Hiatt serves as Assistant City Manager for the City of Woodland. Ken has a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree in Community and Regional Development from the University of California, Davis.
Trish Kelly is Managing Director at Valley Vision, leading portfolios in food and agriculture, workforce development and broadband. She has helped elevate the profile of the region’s food and ag economy, from promoting ag tech entrepreneurship and innovation to addressing critical workforce skills gaps and food insecurity and advancing Farm to Fork. She also helps lead Valley Vision’s efforts to develop the Capital Region’s economic prosperity strategy, in collaboration with partner regional leadership organizations.
Matthew Peyret is a senior vice president at First Northern Bank, an independent community bank with 11 branches. He works alongside agricultural c0mpanies to provide customized financial solutions. Matt manages agricultural relationships, studies market conditions and ensures his customers receive superior service throughout the entire banking process. His client base includes growers, processors and manufacturers throughout Northern California. Prior to joining First Northern Bank, Matt worked for 13 years in the financial services industry in management, lending and business development roles. Matt coaches soccer and basketball, volunteers with local school districts and is active in Rotary. He is a fellow with the California Agriculture Leadership Foundation (Class 50). Matt is a lifelong Northern Californian.
Pamela G. Marrone, PhD spent her 30+ year career focused on leading the way to a more sustainable agriculture through discovery and commercialization of biological products for pest management and plant health. She is currently Executive Chair of Primary BioAg Innovations and Global BioAg Linkages, founded to help agtech/bioag innovators scale and succeed in market adoption. She started Davis-based Marrone Bio Innovations in 2006 and was recently named “Most Admired CEO, Distinguished Career Award” by the Sacramento Business Journal. On August 2, 2013, MBI listed its stock as MBII on NASDAQ. On August 2nd 2020, she retired as CEO and continues to serve on the Board and as an advisor. Before Marrone Bio, she started and led the bioprotection company AgraQuest, Inc.
MENTORS AND ADVISORS *
Patrick Dosier is an Agronomist and the Co-Founder of TransValley AgTech. He is a California State Polytechnic University – Ponoma alumnus who likes to be on the cutting edge of specialty crop science and technology
Julie Morris is Academic Coordinator, Food and Agriculture Industry Immersion at the University of California, Davis Graduate School of Management. With a Harvard MBA, Morris has held the positions of CFO of Marrone Bio Innovations and CFO at SureClinical.
Chris Russell has a JD from the University of
Pacific – McGeorge School of Law and is Partner at Stoel Rives, LLP in Sacramento
Joe Schmidt is Senior Vice President of Business Development and Strategy for BioConsortia. With an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School Of Business, Schmidt has over 20 years of experience in business development, strategic planning, and financial management.
Robert Tse is currently State Broadband Coordinator and Community Planning and Development Specialist at USDA CA Rural Development. His background is in strategic vision and implementation, and technology solutions.
Dean Andrews is a Business and Accounting Professor at Woodland Community College. With a MBA, MSA, and CPA, Dean has taught for numerous community colleges throughout Northern California.