Altera Investments named fastest-growing UGA business

Business led by a trio of Terry College alums tops the annual list
From left to right, VP for Development and Alumni Relations Jill S. Walton, CFO of Altera Investments Carlos Alcala, Hairy Dawg, CEO of Altera Investments David Fershteyn, and UGA alumni president Lee Zell. Altera Investments was named the 2024 No. 1 Bulldog 100 business during the program’s 15th annual celebration Feb. 9 in Sanford Stadium. (Photo by Decisive Moment Photography)

Altera Investments, an Atlanta-based alternative investment firm focused on the lower middle market led by three Terry College graduates, placed first in the Bulldog 100 ranking of fastest-growing businesses owned or operated by University of Georgia alumni.

CEO David Fershteyn (BBA ’17), CFO Carlos Alcala (BBA ’17), and board member Mitch Reiner (BBA ’05) founded Altera in 2018. The company seeks to provide investors with access to fundamentally sound investment strategies. This is the company’s first time on the list, but Reiner has represented previous Bulldog 100 companies, including Capital Investment Advisors.

The UGA Alumni Association recognized the three during the 15th annual Bulldog 100 Celebration on Feb. 9 in the West End Zone of Sanford Stadium. This year, 50 businesses on the Bulldog 100 list included graduates from the Terry College, including the top five and seven in the top 10.

This marks the eighth consecutive year that a business run by a Terry College alum ranked first in the annual list. Following Altera at No. 1, the top 10 featured:

2. Jetset World Travel, Lindsey Epperly (AB ’11) and Jeremy Sulek (BBA ’12), Atlanta

3. Ryals Brothers LLC, Casey Ryals (MBA ’22), Lula

4. Neighborly Software, Chris Behm (BBA ’01), Atlanta

5. Capital Real Estate Group, John Thornton (BBA ’05), Atlanta 

6. SynerGrx, Naveed Tharwani (PHARMD ’11), Chamblee

7. teXga Farms, Caroline Lewallen (BSA ’11), Clarkesville

8. Eagle Christian Tours, Carson Roes (BBA ’15) and Elizabeth Roes (BSFCS ’16), Rome

9. Society 54, LLC, Heather McCullough (BLA ’99), Charlotte, North Carolina

10. Lighting Pros, Matthew Efird (BBA ’14), Jefferson

“It is our privilege to recognize this year’s honorees, who truly embody the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship that is found in every Bulldog,” said Lee Zell, president of the UGA Alumni Association. “Welcoming these Bulldogs back to campus was an honor, and we look forward to continuing to celebrate their impact on their communities and industries.”

From left to right, Kelly Chasteen and Jim Chasteen of ASW Distillery, the 2024 Michael J. Bryan Award winner, with Michael’s wife Leila Bryan, and UGA Alumni President Lee Zell. (Photo by Decisive Moment Photography)

The seventh annual Michael J. Bryan Award was presented to Jim Chasteen (BBA ’98), Charlie Thompson (AB ’99, JD ’03, MBA ’03), Kelly Chasteen (BSEd ’00), Justin Manglitz (BBA ’04) and Chad Ralston (BBA ’08), the team behind Atlanta’s ASW Distillery. The award, named for the co-founder and managing partner of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School who passed away in 2017 after a long battle with cancer, recognizes a returning Bulldog 100 honoree who demonstrates the entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to UGA that was Bryan’s hallmark.

The Bulldog 100 companies were ranked solely based on their three-year compounded annual growth rates. The Atlanta office of Warren Averett CPAs and Advisors — a Bulldog 100 partner since the program began in 2009 — verifies the information submitted by each company and determines the ranked list. On average, companies in the 2024 Bulldog 100 grew by 67 percent each year from 2020-2022, the highest growth rate in the 15-year history of the program.

This year, businesses are headquartered in seven states, with 88 of the businesses located in Georgia. In total, 139 alumni representing over a dozen industries, including health care, financial services, agriculture and real estate, are being recognized.

Nominations for the 2025 Bulldog 100 will open in late spring 2024. To view the complete list of 2024 Bulldog 100 businesses, visit alumni.uga.edu/b100.