leo vartanov-CEO

Leo Vartanov – CEO

A St John’s University Honors graduate, Leo oversees the day to day operations of Merchant Industry and is the driving force behind the explosive growth experienced over the past several years culminating in the naming of Merchant Industry to INC’s list of the 5000 fastest-growing private companies in the country. He was the visionary to create the concept of cash discounting which became a platform called Swipe4Free. Merchant Industry started out in a small one room office space and has expanded to a large operation with offices in multiple locations. Through the many hierarchies of this firm there exist dozens of processing solutions and myriad tools available for use by businesses from the smallest mom and pop operation to the largest multiple location businesses nationally. Not content to rest on past successes, Merchant Industry has been the recipient of multiple awards and generous recognition from the banks and processing platforms that it works with. All of this proves that Merchant Industry is not just another startup company but rather a name that will be trusted and recognized in the industry for many years to come.

Jennifer Vartanov – Co-Founding Partner

A St. John’s University graduate, Jennifer has dedicated her talents to overseeing the many financial aspects of a fast-growing company. Her hard work from the first day has contributed to the growth the company has experienced over the past 10+ years. Her expertise in her field at such a young age is unprecedented and her incredible work ethic as well as her tireless energy is the engine to keeping this company on a firm but expanding financial footing. As the company expanded from a small office with two people to multiple offices and hundreds of people she has kept her finger on the pulse of not only the company’s needs but the industry as well allowing Merchant Industry to stay nimble, responsive and at the forefront of an ever evolving and fluid market.

jenifer vartanov -CFO

Christopher Benabu – COO

Christopher Benabu is the co-founder and COO of Swipe4Free. Having started at a very young age, his entrepreneurial drive was evident in building a chain of 24 mobile phone stores in the metro New York area alongside his partners. The sale of those stores and the experience garnered in building and running them led to the next phase in his career with Swipe4Free, the first US compliant Merchant Services Provider offering a cash discount and surcharging platform. Christopher has expanded the customer portfolio to over 15,000 merchants, processing over 3 million transactions and over 4 billion dollars a year in credit card processing volume. As of 2020 Swipe4Free has saved their merchants over 100 million dollars in credit card processing fees. Christopher is the driving force behind the sales teams at Swipe4Free. His expertise in sales, marketing, and relentless energy are a major factor in Swipe4Free’s substantial growth since its inception in 2007. He is adept in seeing industry trends as they emerge and positioning Swipe4Free at the forefront of the ever changing credit card processing industry.

Frank Kotlar – CFO First US Funding

A St. John’s University Honors graduate who graduated Cum Laude, Frank has had the entrepreneurial bug since his teens.  He founded an EKG Medical monitoring company and sold it to move into the retail market with his partners culminating in owning multiple cell phone stores across New York, New Jersey and Delaware. Finance has always been a passion most of his life which ultimately led to the starting of the First US Funding Company under the corporate umbrella of Merchant Industry LLC which he started with his partners Leo, Jen and Chris.  He has been a major factor in the path that Merchant Industry has taken while he helped build the technology base helping its present growth explosion and has made First US Funding a major force in the Merchant Cash Advance market nationwide.