Sometimes to give meaning to our work, we need to remember who we are and where we came from. In this episode of Before It Happened, Donna speaks with Praveen Penmetsa, co-founder and CEO of two groundbreaking startups — one of which is revolutionizing the agricultural industry.
While Praveen’s love for cars and engineering brought him to the United States, it was his family’s farming background in India that gave him the idea for Monarch Tractor. Through his newest venture, Praveen and his team have developed the first electric tractor that can also produce enough energy to power a home. As Praveen likes to say, Monarch is “the bridge between farm sustainability and farm economics in one product.”
Listen now and learn how every moment of this engineer’s life — from his childhood in Southern India poring over American auto magazines to working on race cars in Huntington Beach — led to his revolutionary idea for the future of farming.
Before any world-changing innovation, there was a moment, an event, a realization that sparked the idea before it happened. This is a podcast about that moment — about that idea. Before IT Happened takes you on a journey with the innovators who imagined — and are still imagining — our future. Join host Donna Loughlin as her guests tell their stories of how they brought their visions to life.
Jump straight into:
(00:53) - Praveen’s Agricultural background and his interest in cars and technology - “I would have all these dreams of, ‘Oh yeah I’ve got to go to California and drive these fast cars and play with all of this high-tech,’ from quiet old computer magazines and car magazines.”
(04:15) - Finding his first job after graduation - “I threw everything I owned into my car and drove across the country for two days nonstop to start work at Huntington Beach.”
(09:26) - Praveen’s first startup: Accelerating high-technology products to the market - “It was super cool to have a car that I touched and worked on on the cover of Road & Track, a magazine that I used to buy on the sidewalks in India for like 10 rupees.”
(12:52) - Monarch: The first electric tractor comes to life - “It definitely was the first lithium-ion tractor that could also power things. So not only could it be charged from a solar panel directly, we had power plugs that we could power things off the tractor.’”
(19:23) - Helping farmers worldwide and pushing agriculture forward - “We see ourselves as a bridge between farm economics and sustainability. It's the one thing, probably the only thing that connects farm sustainability and farm economics in one product.”
(24:38) - How to make it through the pandemic - “At a time of COVID where most businesses are shut down, farmers were very impacted because of the supply chain disruptions.”
(27:05) - The tractor’s reception: Would Elon Musk like it? - “I don't know what our Silicon Valley leaders would think about it, but we do know what farmers think about it and we are happy with their reaction.”
Connect with Praveen on LinkedIn
See the Monarch Tractor in action
Learn more about Monarch Tractor
Learn more about Motivo Engineering
Read Praveen’s interview on the 5 Things We Must Do To Inspire The Next Generation About Sustainability And The Environment
Before IT Happened is produced by Donna Loughlin and Studio Pod Media with additional editing and sound design by Nodalab. The show coordinator is Deanna Morenci with audio engineering provided by Dave Clarke McCoy. The Executive Producer is Katie Sunku Wood. All episodes are written by Jack Buehrer.