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Mar 16, 2021

Mike Fata’s entrepreneurial journey began when he dropped out of high school. It culminated in the $419 million acquisition of the company he co-founded, global hemp foods producer Manitoba Harvest. Reflecting on his remarkable ascent, Fata mentions one regret: that he didn’t “dream bigger.”

Launched in 1998, Manitoba Harvest, which is best known for its popular Hemp Hearts brand, has played a critical role in education about and mainstream adoption of hemp, beginning in its home market of Canada and later in the United States. Seventeen years after the company’s debut, Fata guided a majority sale of Manitoba Harvest at an enterprise value of $132 million. He helped lead a second sale of the company four years later when it was acquired by Canadian cannabis company Tilray for the aforementioned $419 million. Two nine-figure exits… not bad for someone who left school at age 13. 

In the following interview, Fata spoke about how educating himself about nutrition and healthy living led him to hemp, overcoming government-led and generational disinformation about the crop, why he laments not seeing greater potential for the company early into its development and where he drew inspiration for confidence as a CEO.

Show notes: 

0:48: Interview: Mike Fata, Founder, Manitoba Harvest -- Taste Radio editor Ray Latif sat down with Fata and discussed the entrepreneur’s mentorship of brand founders on social media app Clubhouse, his path from bullied teen to health and hemp guru, the Canadian government’s role in the creation and launch of Manitoba Harvest and how the DEA stunted the company’s foray into the U.S. Fata also spoke about how people and organizations in the natural foods community helped him become a better leader, why he describes himself as “a born entrepreneur but a made CEO,” what Whole Foods taught him about team building, the retail partners that helped educate mainstream consumers about hemp and the importance of humility when bringing leaders to help scale the company. Later, he discussed his involvement as an investor in several fast growing food brands and how he advises entrepreneurs when it comes to navigating a crowded and competitive market for natural foods.

Brands in this episode: Manitoba Harvest, Dr. Bronner’s, Stonyfield, Love Good Fats, OM Mushroom