By guest authors Irina Patterson and Candice Arnold
Irina: Do you have any particular industry focus?
Corey: I know a lot of angel groups are focused, if not on one industry, then maybe on just two or three, because their membership pool is really drawn from those space. In Boston, that’s often the case. The population is so big there, I think, often times the individual groups attract people from certain industries, so you get that specific focus.
It’s not like that in our group. It’s a very diverse group, a very libertarian type of group – I don’t mean politically, I just mean as a metaphor. There is a real diversity of people coming from all different spaces with all different kinds backgrounds and experience, so it’s a huge advantage for us because there aren’t too many spaces that we don’t have some kind of background there. So, we can look at a lot of different fields. RVI’s portfolio is very diverse.
We’ve got a Web 2.0 company where the people who were running it a few years ago were in a dorm, college kids whom my brother was mentoring – he runs a program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst called the Entrepreneurship Initiative where he teaches college students how to become entrepreneurs – and they were just really smart and real go-getters, and he ended up introducing them to some of the members of RVI, and one thing led to another and now they’re doing great.
They just signed a $40 million contract. Their name is Dexrex, and they’re a Web 2.0 company that archives text messages, e-mails, instant messages, and all sorts of different communications like that so that you can go back and data mine and store it. There are all kinds of practical applications for it.
We’ve also got a company that builds these really great cameras that go on military instruments, planes and drones, and spy planes.
Irina: When was RVI network established?
Corey: I believe they were formed in 2002 or 2003, somewhere around there. I’ve been involved since 2006, and I believe my brother started getting involved in 2004.
Irina: And they invest in Massachusetts companies?
Corey: Well, not exclusively. They certainly prefer local deals. Their preference is to invest in companies they can drive to, where they can be hands-on and be able to check out the operations. And it’s certainly that vibe. There are a lot of investors who want to fertilize the local economy, but it’s not a hard and fast rule by any means. You know, we have investments in Virginia, we have investments all over. But they definitely prefer local investments.
Irina: Where do your deals originate?
Corey: Multiple places. One way is that we’re very active with other angel groups in the area and nationwide.
We actually share deal flow on a regular basis with a group in Dallas, we share with a group outside of San Francisco, and we share with tons of New England groups that on a regular basis. We swap quality deal flow: they send us their good deals, we send them ours.
Another avenue is our website, obviously, and people are directed to it because of our involvement in the Angel Capital Association.
So, we get cold applications all the time just coming from the website. We get deals from other groups that we share with, and we get a lot of deals just from the personal networks or our membership.
They are such well connected people, they know so many people in so many different areas, and they start so many businesses themselves that we get a lot of deals referred in by members and their associates. So, we get deals from a variety of sources.
We also go to a lot of conferences where companies present, and if my brother and I see good deals at these conferences, then we refer them in, too.