Mike Fata is a true pioneer in the health food sector and a passionate advocate for wellness. Mike's story is as inspiring as it is unconventional. His career began not in the boardroom, but in a personal battle with weight loss and the pursuit of a healthier lifestyle. This journey led him to discover the nutritional potential of a plant that was largely overlooked.
In 1998, Mike co-founded Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods, transforming it into the world's largest hemp food manufacturer, and in the process, changing our understanding of hemp as a health food ingredient. In 2019, the company sold to Tilray for $419mm.
Like his passion for the hemp industry, Mike now devotes his time, energy and capital to helping founders in the natural products industry grow and thrive. Mike has a proven track record of success. As the Chairman of the Board for Sol Cuisine, the company was acquired by Plant Plus Foods in January 2022 for $125mm. Many of Mike’s portfolio brands like Mid-Day Squares and Love Good Fats have experienced incredible growth thanks in part to his mentorship and guidance.
While very busy, Mike still provides wisdom and guidance to entrepreneurs through his podcast Founder to Mentor and his new book GROW 12 Unconventional Lessons for Becoming an Unstoppable Entrepreneur.
Mike and I talk about the early stages of launching a startup in a nascent industry, health and wellness and launching consumer products online and in retail. Mike’s story is a fascinating journey of personal transformation and overcoming adversity with a great deal of wisdom that I think many people can relate to.
(1:48) Icebreakers: How Mike is currently using AI tools and 80s TV.
(6:33) Early days of hemp in Canada.
(14:52) Financing/bootstrapping a hemp business.
(19:56) The health & wellness boom.
(25:56) Investing in founders and natural products startups.
(29:02) Do you launch in eCommerce first then retail?
(30:50) Can the Mid-Day Squares playbook be replicated?
(34:14) Breaking into the US market from Canada.
(35:53) Advice from Mike’s book GROW.
(41:06) How nutrition and health benefit entrepreneurs.
(45:13) Best lessons for entrepreneurs that you will not learn in business school.
(50: 52) Rapid fire questions.
(51:59) Shoutout to The Weakerthans “One Great City”