The Smart Business Dealmakers Dealmaker of the Year Awards recognize exceptional individuals who are shaping the landscape of business and innovation in St. Louis.

In addition, The St. Louis Dealmakers Hall of Fame is recognizing a class of dealmakers that has made an often-groundbreaking impact on their organizations, industries and the region over the course of decades in business.

We're celebrating the accomplishments of the 2024 class of winners March 14 at the St. Louis Smart Business Dealmakers Conference. Together, they provide a strong picture of the St. Louis business community.

Dealmaker Of The Year Honorees


John Hopper is the CEO of Gateway Dealer Network, a provider of sales, rental, parts, and service for compact construction and related equipment. The company was acquired by Tuckahoe Holdings through an LBO on February 13, 2024. Hopper stayed with the company to lead in the transition.

Erica Barnell is Chief Medical and Science Officer at Geneoscopy, a developer of a diagnostics technology designed to treat digestive diseases and also offer cancer screening services. After raising $105 million in Series B venture funding through a combination of debt and equity, the company continues to grow and formulate partnerships with other companies in the St. Louis region.

Mike DeCamp is President and CEO of CoverCress Inc., a provider of crop breeding services intended to offer soil cover for corn harvest and soybean planting. Bayer, in 2022, bought a majority stake in CoverCress by purchasing all equity interests in CCI other than what is currently held by Bayer and CCI’s other strategic investors, Bunge and Chevron. The deal creates a unique structure with three strategic owners, which allows CCI to continue as an independent company while leveraging the expertise and backing from leaders in fuels, soybean crushing, logistics, and crop sciences.  The deal also positions CCI to deliver on its full potential via a supply chain that understands its crop’s production, growth, processing, and delivery needs from the ground up.

Elizabeth Gallegos is CEO and Barry Goldman is Chief Science Officer at Pluton Biosciences, which discovers novel microbes and develops world-changing solutions to the planet’s big problems, addressing challenges to climate and agriculture by tackling carbon sequestration and crop protection, sustainably improving the way we grow food. The company raised $17.58 million of Series A venture funding in a deal led by Illumina Ventures and RA Capital Management in February 2023. Fall Line Capital and seven other investors also participated in the round. The company then had two subsequent closes, the last one in mid-October 2023. The funds will be used to accelerate the development of the company's flagship product through field trials and towards commercial partnerships, and will also help to expand the team, advance a microbial-derived pesticide to combat the fall armyworm and harness the full potential of the platform to swiftly identify tailored products for agriculture.

Herb Golterman is the CEO of Golterman & Sabo, Inc., which offers a range of acoustical, tackable and sound-diffusing wall and ceiling products, including polyester baffles, printed wall panels, and ceiling clouds. Herb and Ned Golterman recently announced the more than 75-year-old company sold to a newly formed Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP).

Han Ko is the President and CEO of USAKO Group. Over the past years, USAKO Group has made significant investments over $10 million in various industries with innovations including AI, health care, image processing, blockchain and manufacturing. Notably, USAKO Group has recently entered numerous investment agreements with Main Info (a high tech image processing company), Native AI (AI based market data research platform), Dawa (a cutting-edge ESG solution company), and TH Holdings (a manufacturing firm specializing in high-tech environmental solutions).

Dealmakers Hall of Fame


Donn Rubin is the Founding President and CEO of BioSTL, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering innovation in St. Louis. He is also a board member and serves on the Audit and Finance Committee at Missouri Technology Corporation. Rubin's leadership at BioSTL has been instrumental in driving economic growth and cultivating an entrepreneurial culture in St. Louis, particularly in the medical and plant biosciences sectors. Through initiatives like Cortex and BioGenerator, BioSTL has become a key player in the U.S. bioscience seed investment landscape. Rubin's vision expanded internationally with GlobalSTL, connecting St. Louis with innovation hubs worldwide. He has also played significant roles in advocating for innovation-friendly policies at both state and federal levels.

John True is a General Partner at Cultivation Capital as well as an Operating Partner at Insight Ventures. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for six private Software firms. In addition, he has previously served on the Board of 10 enterprise technology firms of all stages. He has 20 years of industry experience in executive roles for five high-growth technology firms.  He has been an officer with three companies entering the public markets (Ariba, Guidewire and PTC). He has participated on both the buy side and sell side of 30 M&A  transactions in software tech.

Douglas Wilber is Chief Strategy Officer at Capacity, having previously served as CEO and Board Member at Denim Social prior to Denim’s acquisition by Capacity in August of 2023. He also serves as an Investment Committee Member at SixThirty Ventures where he also serves as Board Representative for portfolio companies Rippleshot and Equipifi. Wilber has over two decades of experience conceiving, building, and scaling fintech solutions with previous leadership roles at and Discover Financial Services.