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Board of Directors

proviera Jason Aytes
Jason Aytes, Executive Vice President

Jason brings extensive experience in sales, M&A, and capital raising. He has been actively involved throughout his career in high-level institutional sales, origination and execution of debt capital markets transactions, and the origination of investment banking and management consulting engagements. Most recently, he advised on the asset purchase of a start-up renewable energy company, then as one of the first employees, helped it grow exponentially. Jason holds a degree in Finance and Banking from the Universty of Missouri.

proviera Mark Schmidtlein
Mark Schmidtlein, CEO of American Walnut Company LLC

Mark Schmidtlein is the Owner and CEO of American Walnut Company, a 100-year old company and the world’s largest provider of American walnut gunstocks for hunting and sporting shotguns and rifles. Prior to his ownership of this company, Mark spent more than 25 years in the banking business working for UMB Bank of Kansas City and The Private Bank and Trust Company (Chicago). Mark has an MBA from Rockhurst University and a BS in Agriculture from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He serves on several non-profit boards, as well as Probiotic Holdings and 9 Point Energy boards.

proviera Mark Schmitz
Mark Schmitz, V.P. of Research & Engineering for Labconco Corporation

Mark Schmitz presently serves as V.P. of Research & Engineering for the Labconco Corporation, a 90-year-old, KC-based manufacturer of laboratory equipment serving the worldwide needs in academic, clinical, industrial, pharmaceutical research, as well as criminal forensics. For the past 20 years, he and Labconco have grown through a relentless appetite for new product development. He is integrally involved in growth strategies, product positioning, researching new products, key account sales and all compliance issues. His leadership places a strong customer focus across all things technical: Design, Customs, Sales Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Service and Quality.

proviera Thad Simons
Thad Simons, Managing Director at The Yield Lab

Thad Simons is the founding Managing Director of The Yield Lab, an agricultural technology seed capital fund/accelerator based in St. Louis, Mo. He is also Board President of the International Food and Agribusiness Association (IFAMA). He is the former President and Chief Executive Officer of Novus International, Inc. and continues in the role of Senior Executive Advisor to the Board of Directors.



proviera Ed Stevens
Ed Stevens, President at Pulse NeedleFree Systems

Ed Stevens serves as President for Pulse NeedleFree Systems, a medical technology company focused on development of needle-free pharmaceutical injection systems for the animal health and human health industries, based in the Kansas-City area. As a graduate of University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law, he previously worked at area law firm Shook, Hardy, & Bacon, as well as Quest Diagnostics.