Smart Business Dealmakers recognized some top deals and dealmakers in the St. Louis region at the inaugural Smart Business Dealmakers Conference on Feb. 13 at the Hilton at the Ballpark.

Here are the 2020 Dealmaker of the Year Award winners.


Chuck Cohn, Founder & CEO, Varsity Tutors

Varsity Tutors is a live learning platform that connects learners to more than 40,000 experts in more than 2,000 subjects online, on mobile and in person. Chuck founded the business while attending Washington University and subsequently bootstrapped the company while working in venture capital. The company has raised more than $100 million from investors and has delivered more than 5 million hours of live instruction on the platform.


David Karandish, Founder & CEO, Capacity

Capacity is an enterprise artificial intelligence SaaS company focused on helping teams do their best work. The company has raised more than $23 million to date from a Midwest network of private and angel investors, most recently securing $13.2 million in Series B venture funding this past August.


Laurie MacLaren, CEO, Ansira

Marketing agency Ansira is one of St. Louis' largest privately held companies. This past April, the company strategically acquired Atlanta-based BrightWave, an email marketing and electronic customer relationship management agency, to help expand Ansira’s presence in Atlanta and grow its customer relationship management and loyalty marketing capabilities.


- Michelle Myers, General Counsel & Chief Compliance Officer

- Martha Gallagher, Associate General Counsel

Cultivation Capital

Cultivation Capital is a venture capital firm providing equity financing for tech and life sciences startups through its various funds. The firm has engaged in a spree of deals over the past year, including being part of five early stage deals in the last quarter of 2019, earning it a rank among the most active U.S. investors in early stage funding rounds in the final quarter of 2019, according to Crunchbase.


- Rakesh Nagarajan, Founder & Executive Chairman

- Michael Sanderson, CEO


Rakesh — a physician-scientist with deep experience in molecular biology, laboratory workflows and techniques — and Michael — a growth leader backed by more than 25 years of experience in health care strategy — head up PierianDx, a clinical genomics informatics company. They raised $27 million of Series B venture funding this past October to accelerate the commercial expansion of PierianDx’s leading clinical genomics platform in the U.S. and global markets throughout Europe, Asia, Australia, Latin and North America.


Jeff Wolff, President, Anchor Packaging LLC

Anchor Packaging is one of North America’s largest manufacturers of specialty food packaging used by restaurants and supermarkets for delivery and take-out meals. Jeff led the company in securing an investment partnership with private equity firm The Jordan Co. this past year as part of a strategic plan to accelerate growth. This move positions Anchor Packing to broaden its geographic reach through additional manufacturing facilities, as well as add new and complementary product lines and new materials for a broader set of solutions to its customers.