John Shumate
John Shumate
Chief Executive Officer
Profile

John founded Venture First to fill a gap in the financial services ecosystem affecting ventures, early-stage investors and other lower-middle-market companies. He has worked with hundreds of early- and growth-stage companies across many industries, many of them dealing with highly-technical products or business models. He has over a decade of financial and transactional experience, including buy-side and sell-side M&A; debt and equity capital raises; strategic consulting; complex financial modeling; business plan development; equity and derivative valuation; and venture incubation.

Prior to Venture First, John served as Vice President at a growth-stage private equity firm and Chief Financial Officer of an early-stage medical device development company. He was an Associate at bCatalyst, an incubator and financial services provider to early-stage companies. He has also held analytical roles for Ethicon-Endo Surgery, a division of Johnson & Johnson, and Hilliard-Lyons, a regional brokerage house. John attended the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, receiving a B.S. in Economics and dual concentrations in Finance and Management.

Contact
Email: john@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 100

Scott Lurding
Managing Director
Profile

Scott serves as Managing Director of Venture First.  He has over two decades of business development, finance, strategy consulting, and entrepreneurial experience.  He has been involved with angel and venture-backed companies focused on healthcare, technology, education, information services, and financial technology.  Prior to joining Venture First, Scott managed Altus Advisory Partners, an advisory practice in the higher education sector. Before that, he served as the Associate Secretary (Chief Financial Officer/Chief Operating Officer) for the Phi Beta Kappa Society national office. He has held management and operating roles with CEB and Accenture, and was on the executive team of two entrepreneurial health care companies.

Early in his career, Scott served as analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris.  Scott is the author of a Harvard Business School case study about an entrepreneurial healthcare company, and has been a guest lecturer at the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University. Scott received a BA in English from Indiana University, where he graduated Phi Beta Kappa, and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Contact
Email: scott@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125

Will Baumgardner
Will Baumgardner
Chief of Staff
Profile

Will is Chief of Staff for Venture First. He has extensive experience in the e-commerce industry, holding roles in finance, strategy, and operations. Will started his career with Zappos.com, a subsidiary of Amazon.com, where he was ultimately responsible for the finance function of three fulfillment centers and over $230 million in operating and capital expenses. He has strong expertise in financial planning and analysis, financial modeling, operations, and corporate strategy. Will attended the University of Louisville, where he received his degree in Finance. Will currently serves on the Board of Directors for the UofL Alumni Association and works with other local organizations to strengthen his community.

Contact
Email: will@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 101

Liza Bowersox
Liza Bowersox
Vice President, Valuation
Profile
Liza Bowersox serves as Vice President for Compliance Valuation at Venture First. Her primary focus is Fair Market Value and Fair Value Opinions for tax and financial reporting purposes. She is a leading provider of independent valuation advisory and valuation education services to private companies, institutional investors, attorneys and entrepreneurs in the United States and globally. She has deep experience analyzing complex capitalization structures for the purpose of valuing common stock, preferred stock, derivatives, and equity appreciation rights. Liza has served companies with Enterprise Valuations ranging from $1-$300MM in a variety of industries. She is a member of both the American Society of Appraisers and the National Association of Certified Valuation Analysts with credentials in process for both organizations.
 
Prior to joining Venture First, Liza led the 409a Valuation Practice at Oxford Valuation Partners. She began her career with Arthur Andersen Business Consulting and later spent 5 years managing systems integration and technology strategy engagements with Adecco, Inc. Liza received a BA in Economics from The University of Virginia.
Contact
Email: liza@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 102

Stuart Neiberg
Stuart Neiberg
Vice President
Profile
Stuart Neiberg is a Vice President and assists with all the various service lines at Venture First.  His background includes transaction advisory, valuation, intangible asset and complex derivative analysis, and corporate planning for businesses in all industries including but not limited to technology, food and beverage, and transportation, but most recently specialized in the healthcare and life sciences space.  His twelve years’ experience in professional services and consulting include time with Deloitte, Andersen Tax (formerly WTAS) and a national healthcare consulting firm where he was named to Becker’s Hospital Review’s list of Rising Stars: 50 Healthcare Leaders Under 40 in 2016. 
 
Stuart is a Certified Public Accountant, Accredited in Business Valuation and a holder of the Chartered Financial Analyst Designation.   He holds a Bachelor of Science in Management with concentrations in Finance and Accounting from Tulane University in New Orleans, Louisiana and Masters of Accounting from University of Florida.
Contact
Email: stuart@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 126

Joe Dover
Joe Dover
Vice President, Business Development
Profile
Joe is Vice President of Business Development at Venture First.  His background includes the airline industry, manufacturing, television advertising, and financial services.  He most recently found his passion for the startup and venture capital arena while launching a CFO services firm that focused primarily on enterprise backed by private equity.  Joe guided the firm through a rapid client expansion to include over a hundred startups and dozens of VC’s in multiple states. The company was recognized by the Hot Dozen, awarded Small Business of The Year, and successfully exited to a larger concern.  Joe was involved in founding the Commonwealth Crowdfunding Committee, is a business development coach for EnterpriseCorp, and has been a pitch coach and judge for Startup Weekend and the University of Louisville.  Joe earned his B.A. in Marketing from Western Kentucky University.
Contact
Email: joe@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 115

Frank Marx
Frank Marx
Senior Advisor
Profile
Frank is a Senior Advisor for Venture First, and brings three decades of strategy consulting, M&A advisory, and business development experience to our client projects and engagements.  His work for us includes assisting our valuation team in building advanced capabilities and techniques; assisting with M&A and capital raising activities on behalf of our clients; and providing project leadership to management consulting engagements.
 
Frank has worked in both senior finance and operating roles with a number of large corporations, including Bankers Trust (now Deutsche Bank), KFC International (now Yum! Brands), and LG&E Energy (now a division of PP&L Energy), and Columbia Energy Group (now NiSource).   His strategy consulting experience includes roles with Strategic Decisions Group, and Dean & Company.  Frank also managed his own independent strategy consulting and advisory practice for 13 years, prior to joining Venture First.  
He has led or participated on M&A transactions on behalf of clients or employers in excess of $1 billion.  He has assisted companies with valuation projects for capital raising activities in excess of $50 million in early stage capital raised.
Frank holds a BS in Mathematical and Computational Sciences, and a MS in Engineering-Economic Systems, both from Stanford University.  He also holds an MBA from the Chicago Booth School of Business, with concentrations in analytic finance and business policy.
Contact
Email: frank@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 108

Juan Reffreger
Director, Miami
Profile
Juan Reffreger is the Director for Venture First’s Miami office. Formerly COO at Blue Equity, Juan focuses on business development for Venture First in Miami. Reffreger served as Chief Executive Officer of Sección Amarilla USA from October 2006 through October 2011. Before becoming a part of the senior management team of Blue Equity, Reffreger worked at First Omni, a portfolio company of Blue Equity engaged in the residential mortgage lending business where he quickly rose to top producer status.  Prior to joining First Omni, Reffreger was the Sales Manager of Cementos Moctezuma, S.A. de C.V., the 2nd largest cement company in Mexico. In this position, Reffreger oversaw the central-east territory out of Puebla, Mexico, and led the team to 20% growth annually. Reffreger also owned and managed Publicidad E Ideas, SA. De CV, an advertising company based in the Mexican Caribbean. There he initiated sales of advertising spaces in shopping centers. Reffreger was also the sales manager for Progress Rail Services de Mexico, S.A. de C.V. He began his career as a sales executive for Ferromex.  Reffreger earned his B.A. in Economics and M.B.A. in International Management from Universidad Anahuac in Mexico City. He served on the board of the Hispanic Business Association of Louisville for the 2004 term.
Contact
Email: juan@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 110

David Levine
Director
Profile
David is Director at Venture First. He provides financial, strategic and operational advisory services serving in the role of a CFO/COO to emerging growth companies (venture capital and private equity backed). Whether it's blocking and tackling or evaluating business strategies, the CFO role in emerging growth companies is one he enjoys as he helps these companies grow. His client base has included companies in technology, energy, software, media, telecom and entertainment. Prior to his consulting business, David has held positions such as CFO of a smart grid network provider, President of an Israeli technology company, Controller of a telecom subsidiary of an investor owned utility, SVP – Finance (CFO) of an interactive digital media company and a VP – M&A for a global wholesale telecom carrier. 
 
David is a Business Mentor at The Runway Startup Postdoc Program at the Jacobs Technion-Cornell Institute. He has also mentored in Cleantech Open-Northeast, Power Bridge-NY, NYC ACRE (Accelerator for a Clean and Renewable Economy) and was an Entrepreneur in Residence with NYSERDA (NYS Energy and Research Development Authority).
 
David began his career at PriceWaterhouse and is a Certified Public Accountant and Chartered Global Management Accountant. He attended Brown University and received his BBA and EMBA at Baruch College of the City University of New York (Zicklin School of Business). David was accepted into Beta Gamma Sigma, the international business honor society.
Contact
Email: david@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 117

Holly Rook
Valuation Manager
Profile
Holly Rook serves as Valuation Manager. She provides business valuation and financial advisory services related to corporate planning, gift and estate planning, and employee benefits planning (such as ESOPs and stock options plans). She brings more than 14 years specializing in business valuation. Holly’s previous positions were also in public accounting, including serving as a financial advisory services supervisor at RSM US LLP and corporate finance manager at Allen, Gibbs & Houlik, LC.
 
During her valuation career, Holly has worked extensively with several well-known financial institutions for valuations of ESOP shares and family-owned blocks of stock. In addition to consulting with companies in the banking industry, she has worked with manufacturers, technology firms, franchisors and professional service providers.  
 
Ms. Rook has worked closely with banks, thrifts, and credit unions to satisfy regulatory and financial compliance standards related to the valuation of financial and intangible assets under Accounting Standards Codification (ASC) 805 and goodwill impairment testing under ASC 350.
 
In 2007, Ms. Rook became an Accredited Senior Appraiser (ASA) of the American Society of Appraisers in its business valuation discipline. She earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Southwestern College.
Contact
Email: holly@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 122

John Toner
John Toner
Business Development
Profile

John Toner is Business Development lead for Venture First in the San Francisco Bay Area. He has extensive experience managing multi-faceted relationships and building connections that matter. Prior to Venture First, Toner worked in the UN system to manage partnerships between national governments, UN agencies, and vendors to deploy innovative technology for human development reaching millions of citizens in over 100 countries. He has held roles in product development & management, client relationship management and business development. Toner studied International, Business, Trade and Development at New York University where he co-founded the Society for International Business and Development in 2009 which now has an alumni network of over 300. His research includes developing innovative social impact models for Microfinance in Central America, integrating human centered design into public-private partnerships, and applying business principles to nonprofit management. He has lived in 4 countries and worked for extended periods in over 20. John is a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholar and graduated from Wake Forest University with a degree in History.

Contact
Email: toner@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 120

christina_wilson
Christina Wilson
Senior Accountant
Profile
Christina is a Senior Accountant at Venture First and brings over fifteen years of experience in the accounting industry to the CFO Services Team. Prior to joining Venture First, Christina worked at Payment Alliance International where she held the positions of Manager of Corporate Accounting and Manager of Financial Reporting for the company. She started her career working in local public accounting firms specializing in small business services. Christina’s experience includes corporate accounting, financial reporting, financial analyses, and income tax reporting for a variety of industries including restaurants, franchisees, payment solutions, and non-profit organizations. Christina graduated from the University of Kentucky with a Bachelor of Science in Accounting and is a Certified Public Accountant.  She is a member of the American Institute of CPA’s and the KY Society of CPA’s.
Contact
Email: christina@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 116

Ruchi Agarwal
Ruchi Agarwal
Associate
Profile

Ruchi brings over 10 years of experience in the financial services industry. Prior to joining Venture First, Ruchi was an accounting associate at JPMorgan, providing financial and investor reporting for multi-million dollar private equity funds. While working in New York, she was selected to support the Chicago office initiative. Ruchi has also provided accounting support to the biggest LGBT non-profit center in Chicago. She received a B.S. in Finance and Accounting from Syracuse University.

Contact
Email: ruchi@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 103

Logan Burchett
Logan Burchett
Financial Analyst
Profile

Logan Burchett is a Financial Analyst at Venture First. Logan has experience with large scale institutional asset management, helping with asset allocation and strategy selection of multi billion dollar public equity and fixed income portfolios. Logan has experience within all major asset classes, with his tenure giving him exposure to hedge funds, private equity funds, Real Estate Funds, and Real Return funds in addition to traditional asset classes. Mr. Burchett is a CFA level 2 candidate, and holds an MBA in finance from Xavier University as well as a bachelor’s degree in economics from Transylvania University.

Contact
Email: logan@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 105

Marcie Doll
Marcie Doll
Valuation Analyst
Profile

Marcie is a Valuation Analyst for Venture First. Her experience includes operational and corporate accounting roles. She is a member of the Institute of Management Accountants. Prior to joining Venture First, she has been a National Controller with Sodexo USA, Inc. where she worked with corporate dining accounts for a Fortune 75 company. She was also an Operations Controller with Levy Restaurants, a subsidiary of the largest contract foodservice company in the world, Compass Group. While with Levy, Marcie managed financial aspects for multiple contractual accounts for Sports and Entertainment dining venues and events including Super Bowl (XXXVIII) Village, Breeders’ Cup, and the most exciting two minutes in sports, The Kentucky Derby. Marcie graduated with a BS in Business: Accounting from Indiana University.

Contact
Email: marcie@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 104

Steven Plappert
Associate
Profile

Steven is an Associate for Venture First. Prior to Venture First, Steven was accepted into Techstars, the #1 Global Accelerator for Startups, with a company he founded, FantasyHub, a popular daily fantasy sports app. At FantasyHub, Steven was in charge of operations, fundraising, and contest/user analysis to optimize their gameplay ecosystem. He successfully raised over $1M in capital from experienced investors and led the company to become the fifth provider in the space. He has extensive experience in startup operations, early-stage business development, raising capital, and project management. Steven received his B.A. in Mathematical Economics at the University of Kentucky and has completed Level 1 of the CFA exams.

Contact
Email: steven@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 123

Andrew Bratton
Associate
Profile
Andrew Bratton is an Associate at Venture First. Having recently advised on over $1 billion of capital raises and M&A assignments across the globe, he is primarily focused on developing our Investment Banking Division.
 
Prior to joining Venture First, Andrew co-founded Unbridled Capital, a boutique franchise investment banking firm with offices in Louisville and Gulf Shores. In his tenure at Unbridled, Andrew exclusively advised on over $800 million of sell-side engagements. He further had the honor of spearheading his firm’s efforts on the health and wellness front, where his work with investors in the Planet Fitness brand enabled him to provide invaluable insight to his colleagues at some of the world’s largest financial institutions. Andrew also spent time at NDA, where, again, he was responsible for strategically executing more than $300 million of sell-side M&A transactions in the QSR space.
 
Preceding his foray into finance, Andrew gained admission to and performed graduate-level research at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, on whose behalf he delivered talks at Harvard, Stanford and NC State.
Contact
Email: andrew@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 125

Hannah Harrington
Hannah Harrington
Accounting Analyst
Profile

Hannah brings a diverse background of accounting experience to the Venture First Team. She started her career as Assistant Controller to a startup ISP and development corporation. Eager to learn more and divulge herself in the start-up community, she moved her experiences into a role on the West Coast in San Francisco where she specialized in project accounting with Suffolk Construction. Hannah played a key role in the financial flow and support of many major San Francisco projects. She has experience working closely with owners, CEOs, engineers, and project managers. Hannah specializes in reconciliation projects, SOP foundations, efficiency research and cash flow management. Hannah received her Accounting degree from Sullivan University.

Contact
Email: hannah@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 114

Kim Oliver
Transaction Analyst
Profile

Kim is the Transaction Analyst for the CFO division of Venture First.  Before joining Venture First, Kim spent many years in the medical, insurance and retail fields, where she provided office management, bookkeeping, and a variety of other administrative duties.  Kim is committed to exceptional customer service and enjoys the challenges and opportunities that come with growing and effectively managing a successful business.

Contact
Email: kim@venturefirst.com

Phone: 502.208.2125 Ext 124

Jackie Endler
Executive Assistant/Office Manager
Profile
Jackie is the Executive Assistant/Office Manager for Venture First.  She has experience in the legal and financial fields, providing executive support and overseeing office management.  Jackie also has experience in human resources with a start-up e-commerce company, supporting a diverse employee population and young company through complex organizational changes.  A commitment to process improvement, smooth functioning of the office environment and dedication to exceptional administrative support are hallmarks of Jackie's professional experience.
Contact
Email: jackie@venturefirst.com

Phone: +1.502.208.2125 Ext 106