Meet our leadership team and learn how we can help you grow your business.
Jason Thanh La is CEO of Merchant Service Group LLC and leads the company’s strategy and direction to meet the future of processing technology and global change. For the past decade, Mr. La has devoted himself to the development and proliferation of processing technologies to meet merchants’ changing needs in the payments industry. He especially prides himself on Merchant Service Group LLC’s attention to customer and technical service provided in multiple languages.
Early in his career, Mr. La recognized an unmet need in the payments industry for multilingual payment solutions, and he established Merchant Service Group LLC as a leading payment processing company to meet that need. Today, Merchant Service Group is regarded as a formidable technology-based company that provides superior payment solutions, products, services, and support in multiple languages. Mr. La has contributed to the company’s growth in processing billions of dollars in transactions since its inception.
Prior to establishing Merchant Service Group LLC, Mr. La was a consultant at Internet start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. He has delivered custom application development and large scale integration projects for clients such as CNF’s Con-way, Emery Worldwide, and DirecTV. Mr. La was recently named in the 2014 “Forty under 40” list of top young executives, entrepreneurs, and professionals in the OC Register Metro, one of the top ten largest newspapers in California.
As a passionate entrepreneur, he is also an active investor and advisor to early-stage data analytic and payment technology companies. Currently, he serves on the Board of Harvard Business School Association of Orange County and Advisory Council for Entrepreneurship at Cornell University. He is also a member of the Board of Trustees at the Society of the Holy Jesus Christ’s Connelly School, a selective college-preparatory school for girls. Mr. La is an alumnus of Cornell University and Harvard Business School.
Karen Hernandez heads the Marketing and Strategic Partnerships areas of Merchant Service Group, LLC. She is responsible for strategic partnerships and all corporate development activities. Ms. Hernandez supports the development of our M&A strategy and researches the market landscape to identify acquisition, joint venture, partnership and strategic investment opportunities. With over 20 years of experience working in senior executive positions for both Fortune 50 Companies (such as Deloitte & Touche, TransAmerica, First Interstate Bank, and Ford) and startups, Ms. Hernandez understands the challenges faced by both large Corporate giants, and the company just getting off the ground. Having been an Internal Auditor for a Fortune 50 Bank, she also understands how to work with large Financial Institutions and the regulatory environment under which they operate. Ms. Hernandez has been on both sides of the acquisition, financing, and audit tables. She received her CPA while working for Deloitte and Touche. She has a BA in Philosophy, Politics, Economics, and Economics/Accounting from Claremont McKenna College and an MBA from the Harvard Business School. She, currently, serves as the President of the Harvard Business School Association of Orange County and is a Board Member of the Harvard Club of Southern California.
Peter Nguyen is the VP of Operations at Merchant Service Group LLC and is responsible for Merchant Service Group’s development and sales efforts, as the company continues to improve connections between merchant requirements and innovation. He has over a decade of experience helping ISOs and Agents grow their businesses and portfolios in the payments industry. After obtaining his B.S. in Computer Science at the University of Oregon, Mr. Nguyen began his career as a sales consultant and quickly rose to VP of Business Development. Since 2011, Mr. Nguyen’s contributions increased Merchant Service Group’s sales channel by over 300 percent. His personal experience as a sales agent has helped him create methodologies in the payment space to maximize sales while keeping overhead at a minimum. Mr. Nguyen manages the arrangement and acceleration of Merchant Service Group’s technology innovations to enable a faster response to market transitions for increased processing relevance and growth. He is committed to preparing ISOs and Agents with the tools and strategy on how to leverage technology to cost-effectively generate leads, track and manage sales efforts with analytics, and identify emerging markets to have a first-mover advantage. He prides himself on his long-term, personal relationships with ISO partners of all sizes.
With over 20 years of domain expertise in the payments industry, Mr. La advises the day-to-day operations throughout the Merchant Service Group office branches in Oregon, Northern California, and Southern California. As the leader of the underwriting, risk management, customer support, technical support, and sales support groups, Mr. La helps to enable Merchant Service Group’s image, strategy, and goals by managing prioritization, decision ownership, effective resource alignment, and accountability across the company. He championed the implementation of a proprietary CRM system which streamlined operations and maximized performance of all office teams by at least 30 percent respectively. He also applied key metrics to improve operational efficiency across the board. Mr. La is dedicated to continuing to develop and execute innovative ways to lower operational costs and increase value throughout the organization. His dedication to his teams is tantamount to his dedication to providing superior customer service. Mr. La earned his B.S. in Administrative Justice at Portland State University in Oregon, an accomplishment to which he attributes much of his contemporary managerial style. In his free time, Mr. La enjoys spending time with his family.
Kevin Davis is President of ThyoGen Group, a pharmaceutical company that has developed innovative, intracellular, molecular level therapies and compounds for the eradication of disease. Prior to joining ThyoGen, Mr. Davis was CIO of MineInvest Resources and Managing Director of Avira Energy, Inc. Mr. Davis began his career as a lawyer with Debevoise & Plimpton specializing in mergers and acquisitions, public offerings, investment companies and venture capital. He led the group that purchased the Triton Coal Company and transformed it into the 6th largest coal company in the United States. Triton was later sold to Arch Coal. Mr. Davis also led the buy-outs of numerous other companies including the purchase of Duke Energyâ€™s Hydrocarbon business, AIGâ€™s Power Plant subsidiary, and Enronâ€™s power plant manufacturing business. Mr. Davis has extensive experience with leveraged buyouts, venture capital, and technology start-ups. Mr. Davis has served on the boards of numerous for-profit and philanthropic entities, including, but not limited to, the boards of The Glutathione Corporation, Princeton Technology Partners, Molecular Defenses, Harlem Day Charter School, and Sheltering Arms Childrenâ€™s Services. He also served as Co-Chair of the United States Chamber of Commerce Northern Iraq Task Force. Mr. Davis is a graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School.
Mark Wilser is a Principal in the Irvine, California headquarters of Global Capital Markets, Inc. (other offices in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Toronto), a boutique investment bank providing M&A and capital raising services to middle market manufacturing, distribution, and service companies. Earlier in his career, while with Marakon Associates, Mr. Wilser provided M&A services to many well established corporations such as Eastman Kodak, Dupont, American Express, Sun Oil Company, and New York Telephone. After obtaining a BSChE from the University of Virginia where he graduated first in his class and was a member of the nationally ranked menâ€™s soccer team, Mr. Wilser worked in operations management for Ethyl Corporation, then a Fortune 200 chemical company. He later received his MBA with an emphasis in finance from the Harvard Business School. Mr. Wilser is a highly sought-after speaker for corporate boards, CEO forums, and conferences on topics such as mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance, and maximizing shareholder value in privately held companies. He serves on the Board of Directors of the Harvard Business School Alumni Association of Orange County and has previously served on the board of the Tech Coast Venture Network.
Ray Chan is currently the Managing Director at K5 Venture Partners, a funding platform for technology-based companies, and he also serves as an Investment Partner on the Tech Coast Angels ACE Fund Deal Committee. As an active investor with a successful 25-year track record as a king/queen maker, Mr. Chan is committed to partnering with entrepreneurs to lead them to success. Working in tandem with these entrepreneurs, he loves sharing his passion and knowledge with the next class of game-changers. Mr. Chan has extensive experience within the tech startup industry. He was most recently the COO of portfolio companies Vokle, Masher Media, AIPCOM and Everyone.net. Everyone.net was later sold to ProofPoint Inc. Mr. Chan has also served as the Vice President of International at NetManage, a provider of e-business and application integration solutions. In 1985, he co-founded NetSoft, a groundbreaker in communications solutions between PCs, mainframes, and AS/400 systems. NetSoft was acquired by NetManage, Inc. (NETM).
Amir Banifatemi is a Board Member and Emeritus President of Tech Coast Angels, the largest Angel Network in the United States, and is Chairman of TiE South Coast Angels. He is also a founding member of K5 Ventures, a funding platform for technology-based companies, as well as a co-founding partner of K5Launch, one of the first startup accelerators in Southern California. Mr. Banifatemi has more than 25 years of experience in development and growth of high technology ventures in both Europe and the United States. He has held various senior executive positions with P&L responsibilities within companies such as EADS, AP-HP (the largest European hospital group), and the European Commission Division for Information Society and Media. Mr. Banifatemi helped develop new innovation and business model design practices with Fortune 500 companies and has personally contributed to the growth and funding of more than 10 successful startups in the fields of healthcare, big data and analytics, and predictive technologies. He holds an MBA from Group HEC and has a doctorate degree in systems controls and an MSEE from Universite de Technologie de Compiegne in France. He is currently a lecturer at Chapman University, Claremont McKenna College, and the University of California Irvine.
Frank Halpin is the founder and CEO of GetTakeout.com, a restaurant solutions provider specializing in the online marketing and processing of takeout and delivery orders. Previously, Mr. Halpin was the founder and COO of GolfNow.com. He helped grow GolfNow over a seven year period to 1,500 golf courses and $100 million in sales before it was acquired in 2008 by Comcast. Frank also has over 20 years of experience in Management Information Systems and e-commerce. Prior to his contribution at GolfNow, Mr. Halpin held senior positions at Greens.com, Emerald Solutions and Claremont Technology Group. At Greens.com he was the Director of Product Development and later the Director of Mergers and Acquisitions. As a technology consultant, he successfully delivered on large scale integration and custom application development projects for clients such as PacifiCorp, Merix Corporation, Con-way, Emery Worldwide, and CH2M Hill. Mr. Halpin earned a BS degree in Business with an emphasis in Management Information Systems and a minor in Industrial Engineering from Oregon State University in Corvallis, Oregon.