People

PROVEN & PASSIONATE
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As co-founder emeritus, Alan has been a pillar in the Utah investment community. Upon co-founding Mercato Partners, Alan had already made over sixty personal investments in early stage Utah technology companies, and had founded Grow Utah Ventures, a nonprofit organization that fosters entrepreneurial development.

In addition to his impressive career in private equity, Alan has also been recognized for his business success, particularly as founder and former CEO and chairman of MarketStar, the Utah-based leader in outsourced sales acceleration services. He has been honored as both the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the year and the Mountain West Capital Network Entrepreneur of the Year.

Currently, Alan and his wife Jeanne are co-Chairmen and co-Presidents of the Hall Foundation. The Foundation’s purpose is to fund not-for-profit organizations that help the needy in Weber County and in other areas throughout the world.

Traverse
Investor Success
Pressure is a privilege. It only comes to those who earn it.
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Sweetest Devon, Adele

Aly Simons is Mercato’s Investor Relations Manager, working across the firm’s venture, growth capital and buyout practices. A relationship powerhouse and culture creator, Aly makes use of her infectious attitude to direct Limited Partner outreach, support fundraising efforts, and foster investor collaboration.

In her previous role as the executive assistant to Managing Director and Co-Founder, Greg Warnock, Aly gained an intimate knowledge of fund and fundraising practices, and formed close knit relationships with the firm’s Limited Partners, making her a natural fit for a role in IR.

An ardent volunteer, Aly currently serves on the Young Leaders Steering Council for the United Way of Salt Lake, and is a sustainer member of the Junior League, a women-led nonprofit volunteer organization aimed at advancing female leadership. She also earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Washington, where she was elected into the International Honor Society of Sociology.

Platform
Investor Success
Good timber does not grow with ease, The stronger wind, the stronger trees, The further sky, the greater length, The more the storm, the more the strength. By sun and cold, by rain and snow, In trees and men good timbers grow.
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Trem-Bala, Ana Vilela

A former Senior Manager with KPMG’s audit practice, Anfissa Smith is Mercato’s VP of Finance and oversees the firm’s recurring finance functions, including: quarterly and annual reports; monthly accounting close processes; and portfolio company financial analyses. Leveraging her deep knowledge of financial statement review and compliance, she also works closely with the Chief Financial Officer to provide accurate and timely information to investors, and help ensure fund compliance.

Anfissa earned her B.S. in accounting and a Masters of Accountancy from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. In addition to being a graduate from, she also lends her technical expertise to the University as a long-time member of its Opportunity Scholar and Accounting Advisory Boards.

She is a Certified Public Accountant, and a member of both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Utah Association of Certified Public Accountants.

Platform
Investor Success
There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
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Crash & Burn, Speelburg

An experienced builder of data systems, Asa joined Mercato in 2023 as the firm’s systems manager. Responsible for leading out on the implementation and optimization of the fund's CRM, Azure AD, and business intelligence platforms, Asa is passionate about developing effective and responsive technology solutions that immediately improve workflow.

Prior to joining Mercato, Asa was the Director of Special Projects and Data Analytics for Now CFO, a premiere consulting and CFO placement firm. In this role, he developed cross-organizational data pipelines, and managed the business’ CRM implementation and integration.

Asa earned his undergraduate degree in Portuguese from Brigham Young University, where he later developed and taught the Portuguese department's first online language course.

Platform
Investor
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Me Rehúso, Danny Ocean

Ben Lopez is a Senior Associate at Mercato where he marries his interest in entrepreneurship and finance to his love of learning. During his professional career Ben has gone from scientist—reverse-engineering brand products for generic development at Allergan Pharmaceuticals—to CEO to investor. He founded both Neighbor Boys and Outbdcars.com, served as the Chair of the Lassonde New Venture  Development, and immediately prior to Mercato, worked as a private equity Senior Investment Analyst at Utah Retirement Systems. 

Ben earned his M.B.A. from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and his B.S. in chemistry from the University of Utah. As a senior associate, he currently observes the boards Kuali and ObservePoint, and invests in the Mountain West.

Traverse
Investor Success
Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.
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Flowers, Miley Cyrus

Brittany Norman, the Executive Assistant to Traverse Managing Director Ryan Sanders, brings over 10 years of experience in administration, sales, and customer service to her role at Mercato. Her passion for building meaningful professional relationships makes her well suited to supporting the firm’s sourcing, fundraising, and networking efforts.

Prior to joining Mercato, Brittany was the Chief of Staff at Nervana Medical, and the executive assistant to the Chief Technology Officer at Route, an all-in-one post-purchase platform that is reimagining the ecommerce experience.

Brittany graduated from FIDM with a degree in Fashion Merchandising.

Traverse
Investor
Preparation for tomorrow is hard work today.
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Different ‘Round Here, Riley Green and Luke Combs

As a Managing Director of Prelude, Mercato’s early-stage venture fund, Davis Warnock prides himself on collaborating with entrepreneurs and other fund managers to better the investment ecosystem for future builders. An early key driver of this mission was UA2, a network of angel investors that focuses on backing technology start-ups by providing both funding and critical scaling experience. Davis co-founded the network in 2013 shortly before joining Mercato.

Prior to joining the fund, Davis also founded the Lumen Group, the first direct secondary fund in the state of Utah, and Auxano Funding, a revenue-based finance debt fund. Across this career, he has been principal in more than 50 private equity transactions.

Davis received a B.S. in Entrepreneurship from the University of Utah, and an M.B.A. from Westminster’s Gore School of Business. In his role as Managing Director, he currently sits the boards of Imagine.io and FreightPOP, and is investing in B2B technology and cybersecurity startups. Outside of this role at Prelude, he serves as the Chairman of the Board at SilencerCo, the market leader in the small arms suppressor sector, and as a board member of the Utah Venture Entrepreneur Forum.

Prelude
Investor Success
A life lived in fear is a life half lived.
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Viva La Vida, Cold Play

A former senior fund associate at Alter Domus, a fully integrated fund and corporate services provider, Easter is Mercato’s Fund Controller and assists in managing the firm’s accounting and capital operations. He brings a demonstrated history of working in the financial services industry with a specialization in financial reporting and fund accounting.

Over the course of his career, Easter has served as an auditor with BDO, an Asset Management Associate with Goldman Sachs, and a senior financial analyst with Avi Networks, now a part of VMware. He earned his B.A. in accounting and Chinese literature from Brigham Young University–Hawaii, and a Master of Accountancy from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah.

Platform
Investor
Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.
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Managing Director Greg Warnock, Ph.D., co-founded Mercato Partners in 2007 with Alan Hall. As a technologist, innovator, and entrepreneur with a proven history of building, supporting, and growing market-leading companies, Greg personifies the Mercato culture and approach. He is active with business leaders and directors, experienced in building and developing management teams, and adept at accessing the strategic relationships that enable strong growth.

Prior to Mercato, Greg was an angel investor and a Co-Founder and Managing Director of vSpring Capital (now Signal Peak Ventures), an early-stage venture capital fund focused on the Mountain West region. Greg also founded Junto Partners, an entrepreneurship education initiative designed to train and mentor aspiring entrepreneurs, and was the Chairman of the Board for the Community Foundation of Utah.

Greg has been named a Utah Business Outstanding Director and Utah Business Mentor of the Year, and has received Ernst & Young’s Supporter of Entrepreneurship Award. He earned his B.S. in Computer Science, and a M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Entrepreneurship and Venture Finance from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business.

Platform
Investor
Never be so kind, you forget to be clever. Never be so clever, you forget to be kind.
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Dreams, Fleetwood Mac

Committed to driving change through economic empowerment, Jackie began her career as an investor with Sorensen Impact, a center housed at the University of Utah David Eccles School of Business that connects capital to social and environmental solutions.

After a year with Sorenson, Jackie went on to earn her M.Sc. in Economics for Development from the University of Oxford. Upon graduation, she moved to Ethiopia to continue her impact work as an ODI Fellow with the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency. For a year, she was hosted by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture, working as an economist consulting with large agricultural businesses across the country.

Most recently, Jackie was an Associate at the Cicero Group, a premier management consulting firm focused on implementing data-driven strategies for a broad mix of private, public, and social sector organizations across the globe. Since starting at Mercato in 2022, Jackie has joined the Stance, Summersalt, and Atomic boards as an observer. She currently invests in the South, Southeast, and Pacific Northwest.

Traverse
Investor
The best way to predict the future is to invent it.
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Chemical, Post Malone

Jake Hansen, a former investment banker with BMO Capital Markets, transitioned into venture capital in 2019. An associate at the San Francisco-based Princeville Capital, Jake led the sourcing and diligence efforts for investments in growth-stage e-commerce, finance, and climate technology companies around the world. During his tenure with Princeville, Jake observed the boards of now publicly traded companies, Remitly Global (NAS:RELY), Volta Charging (acquired by Shell, NYSE:SHEL), and Ozon (NAS:OZON).

Since joining the Mercato investment team in 2021, Jake has helped advance the strategic guidance, governance, and harvest preparation activities provided to our portfolio companies. In addition to leading pre-investment diligence efforts, he currently observes the Lambda, MNTN, and Lendio boards, and is investing in the South, Southeast, and Pacific Northwest.

Jake earned a B.S. in management from Brigham Young University with an emphasis in finance and entrepreneurship.

Traverse
Performance
Well behaved women seldom make history.
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Take Me Home, Country Roads, Lana Del Rey

As a technical program director turned marketing executive, Jennifer has spent her career focused on the solutioning and delivery of impactful marketing strategies for organizations large and small. Prior to joining Mercato, she led brand, marketing and e-commerce at Borboleta, a category-leading B2B and DTC beauty company. Prior to Borboleta, Jennifer was the Director of Digital Experience Program Management for Merkle, a global CX and performance marketing agency, where she owned the portfolio delivery of large-scale digital transformations for enterprise clients. Notably, her team led the digital mar-tech transformations for Walgreens, Walmart, Stanford Healthcare, KPMG, and Canon.

Jennifer earned a B.A. in both Mathematics and Economics from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College. She currently sits on the Marketing Board of Advisors at Utah Valley University, and is a peer advisor at Authentic, a community of Fractional CMOs who help growing businesses Overcome Random Acts of Marketing™.

Platform
Investor Success
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.‍
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Wonderful World, Ben Rector

A technologist, innovator, investor and entrepreneur with a passion for data analytics, Jensen leads out on Mercato’s discovery, adoption and use of technology to specifically advance the growth-stage investment process and the strategic direction of the Mercato platform.

Prior to assuming his role as the Director of Technology, Jensen co-founded both the Lumen Group, a regional direct secondaries fund, and UA2, a prominent UT-based angel network that networks, advises, and invests in technology start-ups. At Lumen, Jensen was responsible for raising and investing multiple direct secondary funds across the Technology, SaaS, Branded Consumer, and Healthcare industries.

Jensen earned a B.S. in Computer Science from Brigham Young University and an M.B.A. from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon. He currently serves on the board of the Community Foundation of Utah.

Platform
Investor
The question isn’t who’s going to let me; it’s who’s going to stop me.
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Wolves, Ryan Bingham

A Missourian through-and-through, Managing Director Joe Kaiser is a staunch advocate of the snap button-up shirt, and the hungry and humble entrepreneurs of the Midwest. He believes in the power of investing in cities and states traditionally overlooked by VCs—a belief that has led to multiple investments in companies based in Chicago, Columbia and Columbus.

Joe began his career in investment banking at A.G. Edwards & Sons, Inc. before joining the regional private equity firm, Erie Management Group, where he evaluated, structured and managed growth-stage investments. He later left Erie Management to earn his M.B.A. from the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

Upon graduation, Joe joined The Blackstone Group where he advised investors and corporate clients; managed mergers and acquisitions, and structured finance transactions, including Blackstone’s acquisition of Vivint Solar and its parent company, Vivint, Inc. This successful acquisition led to Joe joining Vivint Solar—which IPO'd in 2014 for $1.6 billion and later sold for $3.2B in 2020—as the Director of Capital Markets. During his time at Vivint, Joe raised in excess of $1 billion in project financing to facilitate the deployment of residential and commercial solar assets.

Joe currently serves on the board of directors of Attain, Beam Benefits, Kalderos, MNTN, Paytient, Summersalt, and Vivante Health, and invests in the Midwest.

Traverse
Investor
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One More Time, Blink-182

As a Principal at Mercato’s Growth Fund, Josh leads Traverse’s sourcing and investing efforts in  Southern California. Leveraging his background in organizational design, corporate strategy, change management, and market research, he helps executive teams optimize their growth strategy, find new growth opportunities, and implement organizational change management.

Prior to joining Mercato in 2016, Josh served as the VP of Private Equity Investing and as an engagement manager for Cicero Group, a leading management consultancy in the Intermountain Region. At Cicero, he led strategic consulting and transformation engagements for Fortune 1000 companies, serving clients in logistics, energy, financial services, technology, and private equity.

Josh received a B.A. in Spanish and business from the University of Utah, an M.B.A. from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah, and a J.D. from the S.J. Quinney College of Law at the University of Utah. As a Principal, Josh currently serves on the board of directors of Vasion and Sphero.

Traverse
Performance
The body should be treated more rigorously, that it may not be disobedient to the mind.
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The Man, The Killers

As the SVP of Revenue, Justin brings over 20 years of sales experience—ranging from channel and inside sales to revenue operations and strategy—to Mercato. Responsible for connecting our portfolio CROs to expert resources, tools, and mindshare, Justin supports the accelerated, sustainable growth of the firm’s investments.

Prior to joining Mercato, Justin was a sales executive at both MaritzCX (now InMoment) and InsideSales, and was responsible for the recruitment, management, and optimization of high-performing sales teams. Throughout the course of his career, Justin has achieved success across a broad group of company profiles—from start-up to Fortune 100 companies. He has also held key roles in sales and operations at Oracle and Adobe.

Justin earned his B.S. in information systems from Brigham Young University, and a M.B.A. from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University.

Platform
Investor
Nothing bad happens when women have more money.
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Anti-Hero, Taylor Swift

An avid financial modeler, Meghan graduated summa cum laude from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Quantitative Analysis of Markets and Organizations, and a minor in Financial Analysis. One of the few Mercato interns to later be offered an analyst role, Meghan joined the firm in 2022 after a year spent with Hamilton Lane in Philadelphia as an investment analyst working on equity, credit and impact deals. In her role as a senior analyst with Mercato, Meghan not only flexes her financial modeling skills, but also lends significant python analysis, market research, and data manipulation muscle to the investment team.

Meghan's previous experience also includes internships with Goldman Sachs, Cross Creek, Sorenson Impact, and the University Venture Fund.

Traverse
Investor
Growth and comfort do not coexist.
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mad woman, Taylor Swift

A Senior Associate for Mercato’s growth fund, Mei supports both pre-investment diligence and post-investment guidance and governance efforts for the fund’s Midwest investments.

Driven by her desire to drive impact through capital markets, Mei began her career at Goldman Sachs as an investment banking analyst where she was a finalist in the Goldman Sachs Gives Analyst Impact Fund. Her pitch—a nonprofit organization named Clear Blue Sea—focused on addressing ocean pollution by developing FRED, a semi-autonomous, solar-powered Floating Robot for Eliminating Debris. Her passion for impact is only further evidenced by her volunteer work with the Utah Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity, and her independent board participation with the mission-driven company, The UnWipe.

Mei graduated from the University of Arizona with a B.S.B.A. in Finance, and is currently a 2025 M.B.A. candidate at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. As a member of the junior investment team, she currently observes the Vivante Health, Paytient, and Kalderos boards, and invests in the Midwest.

Traverse
Investor
The victor is not victorious if the vanquished does not consider himself so.
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Free, Florence and the Machine

Melissa Funk, a Sr. Analyst on Mercato’s growth-stage investment team, began her career in equity research. After graduating from Utah State University with a B.S. in Economics, Melissa joined Goldman Sachs’ Global Investment Research division where she was focused on public real estate stock analysis. After three years, Melissa left Goldman to join the corporate development team at Tradeweb Markets (Nasdaq: TW), a leading, global operator of electronic marketplaces for rates, credit, equities and money markets.

A Huntsman and Buehler Scholar, she was named to the USU Honors Program, and was a member of the Government Relations Council and University Venture Fund during her collegiate career. Her previous experience also includes internships with the U.S. Senate, Leavitt Equity Partners, and the Larrison Group, a strategic boutique advisory.

Traverse
Investor Success
More smiling, less worrying. More compassion, less judgment. More blessed, less stressed. More love, less hate.
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Change, Lana Del Rey

For over 15 years, Melissa has served as Mercato Co-Founder and Managing Director Greg Warnock’s personal administrator. Her sharp business acumen, infallible follow-through, and attention to detail have made her an invaluable asset over the years to both Greg and the firm.

As Greg’s right-hand, she owns and leads out on all professional communications, calendar and travel coordination, internal and external project management, and executive assistant coordination.

Platform
Investor Success
One of my favorite things is fanfare for its own sake.
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Gosh, Jamie xx

Nicky Rodriguez is an administrative assistant and office manager at Mercato, supporting firm-wide operation, communication, and event efforts. Prior to joining the firm in 2021, Nicky served as a communications specialist and administrative assistant for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In her role, she supported the division director and controller, managed internal communications and processes, and maintained digital asset and file sharing systems.

Nicky earned her B.S. in communications from the University of Utah, where she spent a year abroad in London studying British literature, history, and culture.

Platform
Investor Success
People may hear your words, but they feel your attitude.
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The Good Ones, Gabby Barrett

As the Executive Assistant to CFO, Ryan Parker, Pennie supports the firm’s accounting, finance, compliance, and legal operations. Additionally, she is responsible for the coordination and organization of fund events, group retreats, and speaking engagements.

With over 15 years of executive assistant and administrative experience, Pennie is proficient in her ability to bring clarity to team operations, improve lines of communication, and facilitate change. Immediately prior to Mercato she was the Chief of Staff at a boutique private equity firm that specializes in growing, lower-middle-market companies. Pennie is currently pursuing her B.A. in Accounting from Western Governors University.

Platform
Investor Success
First They Ignore You. Then They Laugh at You. Then They Attack You. Then You Win.
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White Wedding, Billy Idol

A former banking and venture capital auditor turned valuation specialist, Ryan Parker has an extension career in finance and accounting. In his role as Chief Financial Officer at Mercato, he is responsible for financial reporting, compliance, and fund management across all three of the firm’s venture, growth capital and buyout practices.

Prior to joining Mercato in 2017, Ryan led legal entity reporting at Synchrony Financial during their 2014 IPO and 2015 $20B equity exchange offer—one of the largest in SEC history. During this time there he also oversaw the valuation of $30B+ in annual asset sales to securitization vehicles.

A Utah native, Ryan received a B.S in accounting and a Master’s of Accountancy from the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business, and holds Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and Accredited in Business Valuation (ABV) designations.

Platform
Investor
We used to think that everything started in the lab. Now we realize that everything spins off the consumer...Play by the rules, but be ferocious.
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One, U2

A former founder, Mercato Managing Director Ryan Sander’s first exposure to the world of private equity was as a young venture backed co-founder of Calixus, a software company that helped newspapers transition into the then-emerging digital world. Calixus was later acquired by the Media News Group, and Ryan went on to earn his M.B.A. from the University of Texas McCombs School of Business before joining Comcast (NAS: CMCSA) as a business operations manager.

After helping to roll out Comcast’s next-gen IP architecture and systems, Ryan pivoted into private equity. Ryan begun his investment career at Escalate Capital, a leading private credit and growth capital solutions provider, where he spent 5 years as a mezzanine investor focused on rapidly growing later-stage software, SaaS, and tech-enabled companies. During his tenure, Ryan acquired a deep understanding of the growth equity landscape. This understanding, in conjunction with his operational and entrepreneurial experience, afforded him a firm foundation for his current work building and supporting Mercato’s growth portfolio, Traverse.

As a Managing Director, Ryan currently serves on the board of directors of Atomic, Lendio, Lambda, ObservePoint, and Stance, and invests in the South, Southeast, and Pacific Northwest. He was recently named to Class 26 of Kauffman Fellows—the premier venture education program, and the largest network of VCs and innovation leaders in the world.

Traverse
Investor Success
Better to be the one who smiled than the one who didn’t smile back.
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Something Bout a Boat, Jimmy Buffett

Tiffani is a true administrative professional who brings a unique combination of personality and expertise to her role as the Executive Assistant to Managing Director Joe Kaiser. With 15 years of prior experience as an E.A. at Franklin Covey, the world leader in helping organizations achieve business results through changes in human behavior, she has an impressive track record of providing exceptional support rooted in integrity and diplomacy.

In her role at Mercato, Tiffani manages and maintains all calendars, communications, arrangements, and records on behalf of her Managing Director.  Her effective, concise style of communication and intuitive nature are instrumental to the firm’s operational efficiency and optimization.

Traverse
Investor
If you really look closely, most overnight successes took a long time.
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Doin' This, Luke Combs

As Managing Director of Prelude Venture Fund, Mercato’s early-stage practice, Zach Sivertson brings deep operational and technical experience to his role. Immediately prior to joining the fund, Zach was a product executive at Symantec, the world’s largest cybersecurity company. During his tenure, he oversaw product management, pricing, and strategy for a $1B+ cybersecurity portfolio that was deployed in over 85% of the Fortune Global 2000. He also led key product launches, including that of multiple 1.0 products that now contribute over $110M in annual bookings. Before Symantec, Zach held product positions at Blue Coat Systems—sold to Symantec for $4.6B, WorkFront, and Aplifi—sold to iPipeline. He has also lectured on cybersecurity at Ensign College.

Zach earned his B.S. in Information Systems from the University of Utah and an M.B.A. from Westminster’s Gore School of Business. In his role as a Managing Director at Prelude, he sits the boards of alphaMountain.ai, Evo Security, and GloveBox, and is investing in B2B technology and cybersecurity startups.

Prelude
Investor
Chance favors the prepared mind.
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Old Man, Neil Young

A Mercato veteran, Zane joined the firm in 2016 as an analyst, performing market research, financial modeling, valuation, diligence, and portfolio company harvesting activities.  He has since risen through the ranks, becoming a director, and earning his M.B.A.from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia along the way.

Through his material involvement in Mercato's investments in Galileo, Venafi, Kuali, ObservePoint, and Vasion, Zane has narrowed his investment focus to the fintech, data, security, infrastructure, and edtech industries.

Prior to Mercato, Zane was a financial analyst with Goldman Sachs and an investment analyst with Palo Alto-based Highcrest Management Group. As a Director, Zane currently serves on the board of directors of Kuali, and invests in the Mountain West.

Traverse

Navigate growth

better.
Mercato Compass is our value-add platform designed for scaling growth and venture companies. Compass connects portfolio teams to our network of expert resources, monthly events, and foundational growth guides and tools.