By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
This is the sixth interview in our series on seed financing and angel investing. Corey Silva dropped into the angel universe by chance after being a serious rock n’ roll musician in his early days; he has written over 120 original songs. As fate would have it, he is now an assistant manager at River Valley Investors and a partner at Angel Catalyst, a management and consulting firm he runs with his brother. I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.
Irina: Hi, Corey. So, River Valley Investors (RVI), where are they based?
Corey: The group is located in western Massachusetts, outside of Springfield. My brother, Paul Silva, is the manager of RVI and I’m the assistant manager. I live around two hours away from where they meet, in southeastern Massachusetts, so I have quite a bit of commuting to do when they have meetings. But the group is based in western Massachusetts, that’s where the majority of the membership is from, although they do have quite a few members from the Boston area who actually trek two hours to go to the meetings.
Irina: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
Corey: I grew up – as did my brother, who is my partner – in Fall River and Swansea, Massachusetts. My background is actually very atypical, as is my brother’s. I was a musician. I had no interest in business at all, so my professional experience really was nonexistent in my early years – I’m 30 now. I was a working musician, in my early twenties, I’d dropped out of college – twice actually – and so that’s what I was doing.
When I went back the second time, I had a really great teacher who liked the way I wrote, so he got me a couple of jobs writing. I wrote for a couple local magazines and a newspaper, and that was pretty much my first professional experience besides waiting tables and playing in bands. I played in rock n’ roll bands pretty much. Not modern type rock n’ roll, more like old-school type of rock n’ roll.
My influences were The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and the Grateful Dead, and that kind of stuff, not what you hear on the radio nowadays. The part of Massachusetts I live in is right next to Rhode Island, so I played mostly in Rhode Island and in southeastern Massachusetts, Providence, Bristol, around there. So that’s what I was doing, and then I started writing. I’m a songwriter; I wrote probably about 120 songs between the ages of 19 and 25. That’s really what I was dedicated to.
When I was 26 – four years ago – is when I started working for RVI. My brother, who also has a pretty atypical background – he was a physics major in college – decided to start his own business making video games that blind people could play online, and through starting that business and trying to raise money for himself, that’s where he met the guy who started River Valley Investors, a guy named Joseph Steig.
Joseph Steig was the original manager of River Valley Investors, and my brother tried to raise money from them. He presented to them and the group had no interest in investing in his company, but they were impressed by him personally.
And Joseph Steig became Paul’s mentor and he hired my brother to be his assistant. And then Joseph Steig got a great job offer that he couldn’t pass up, so he had to leave the group.
So my brother became the manager and he needed an assistant, so he hired me, despite the fact that I was basically a rock n’ roll musician with no business experience. But he knew that it’s a very sensitive industry; there’s a lot of confidential information, and you really have to be able to trust anybody who’s involved. So that was a really important thing, the trust factor. And he knew I had a lot of English skills from being a writer. So he brought me on as his assistant and that’s how it all started. I met all the people in RVI, and that’s what pretty much got me into being a businessman, as opposed to a musician.