leadership

Meet the team.

Dris Uptus

Dris Upitis

Co-Founder and CEO

Dris co-founded Arete Choice because he believes in the enormous potential of people and the value created when businesses invest in their employees. He was born and raised in Minneapolis, and his investment career took him to Chicago and New York. He has personally invested in and been a board member of private companies for over 15 years. In 2017, he co-founded a not-for-profit that focuses on making a difference for others by empowering them to achieve their full potential. It was through this work that he realized what’s truly possible when everyone wins. He’s excited to bring a similar approach to investing in family-owned businesses and their employees.

Dris lives in Austin, TX. He enjoys golf, spending time in nature, the NBA playoffs, and rooting for the Minnesota Vikings. Dris has a BA from Grinnell College and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Dris Uptus

Scott Lukan

co-Founder and COO

Scott co-founded Arete Choice to bring together his passion for serving people and admiration for great businesses.  He appreciates the commitment required to build and grow a successful company. He loves hearing “the story” behind each business and meeting the people who have created such impressive results.

Scott’s background is in operating companies. He’s founded and operated a business that grew to $10 million in revenues, including 200 employees across three states.

Scott lives in the Des Moines, IA area with his wife, Kara and sons, Levi and Landon.  He enjoys attending church with his family and stays active skiing, biking, and woodworking. Scott is an active board member for Dorothy’s House, an organization committed to victims of human trafficking and also contributes time to Polk County Conservation.  Scott graduated with a Bachelors from Iowa State University.

Dris Uptus

Steve Diekmann

Head of Acquisitions

Steve is excited to be part of the Arete Choice team. He has a strong appreciation for the economic, social, and individual impact that family businesses have on their employees and communities. He welcomes the opportunity to create partnerships that lead to excellent outcomes for all stakeholders over the long term.

Steve grew up in South Dakota and attended college in Iowa. He began his finance career in Chicago before moving to California with his family. Since leaving finance, he has worked as an advisor for multiple non-profit organizations while continuing to invest personally.

Steve lives in Danville, CA with his wife (Julie) and two children (Matthew and Hope).  He is active in his church, volunteers in nearby communities, coaches high school basketball, and enjoys time with his family.  Steve has a BA from Grinnell College and an MBA from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Dris Uptus

Aaron Friedman

Financial Analyst

Aaron joined after learning how Arete Choice offers an alternative to the private equity status quo by finding ways to benefit everyone involved — acquired companies, selling shareholders, and employees. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs and has a passion for small businesses and the impact they can have on their communities. Aaron helped start a company while working on his undergraduate degree and looks forward to working with family-owned businesses and their people.

Aaron lives in Austin and has been a Texas resident his entire life. When he is not traveling, going to local concerts, or hiking, he is relaxing at his family’s ranch with his three-year-old chocolate lab. He holds a BA in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin and an MSF from UT’s McCombs School of Business.

Dris Uptus

Anna Talarico

Relationship manager

Anna is honored to be a part of the Arete Choice team. She has worked with and understands the value of family-owned businesses and the immense impact they have on the economy and our communities.  Anna comes from a recruiting and human resources background and is eager to create long term, successful partnerships. 


Anna is originally from the New York City area and attended school at the University at Albany. After kicking off her career in Washington, D.C., Anna moved to Austin for warm weather, great music, and career growth. She’s happiest when exploring new places and going to festivals. Anna has a B.A. in Business Marketing and Latin American Studies. She is fluent in Spanish.