Gavin McCulley, Angel Investor and Founder of Twin River Holdings : High Speed Low Drag Podcast

Gavin-McCulley-imageGavin McCulley is a former army logistics officer who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gavin left the service in late 2008 to become an entrepreneur only to find himself in a tumultuous economy.

In search of capital for his own business, he learned first hand the game of Angel investing.

Over the last 6 years, founded his own Angel investing partnership which is one of the nation’s largest groups of Angel Investors.

Click here to listen to the iTunes version of Gavin McCulley’s interview

Click here to listen to the Stitcher version of Gavin McCulley’s interview

HSLD: Besides the little background that we’ve give about you, could you tell us a little more about yourself?

Gavin: I found myself not knowing what to do and where to get capital. So I started knocking on doors here and everywhere.

What I learned was that Angel investors are this huge diverse group with different appetites and different ways of doing things but they’re out there but hard to find.

What I wanted to do was solve the problem of getting interested investors in a room and helping entrepreneurs find that capital, find that mentorship, get the resources that they need so they can co ahead and launch their business and be part of it after the fact of us being with them on the journey.

That’s what started it all. That was my driving point. My company is called Twin River Holdings and we don’t back a kind of company but instead back a kind of person.

HSLD: Let’s start with your success quote. What is it?


Formal education will make you a living while self education will make you a fortune – Jim Rohn

The way I apply this is I think that we are responsible for our own education. I spend so much time educating myself to make myself more competitive and give myself the tools to succeed.

HSLD:  Let’s focus on your military experience. Tell us a story  of your most pivotal moment in the US army and share with us some of the lessons you learned.  

Gavin: There’s one that stands out to me- This was on the second day of the Invasion of Iraq and my company commander was assigned a mission and he pretty much took all of the assets. I was left as the executive officer behind and as it turned out, our roles got switched. His mission ended up being scratched and the third infantry division tapped me to be attached to them for the entire march to Baghdad.

We set off into the dessert with these big trucks, without maps, communications, fuel and without a tow truck. We were told by a colonel to march on and follow this road of armor to Baghdad. I literally had to use the colonel’s satellite phone to call my battalion back in Kuwait to tell them that I was no longer part of their unit.

We had outrun our maps and supplies but we were out there in the middle of the invasion. We stopped at Cedar for a fuel stop and my platoon sergeant mutinied on me. He said that if we went on with third infantry division that essentially, I was going to get all our guys killed.

He went around talking about this for about 12 hours and I found out about it and I had to relieve him of his duties and he ended up staying with me as a driver for the next three weeks.

We marched on through that dessert through that terrible sandstorm. We were listed as missing in action for two days because nobody could communicate with us. We ended up linking with our element just outside of Baghdad and delivering the ammunition for Baghdad.

It was one of the craziest and most unbelievable times. What I learned in that moment was that I was responsible, I was in charge, we had a mission to complete and I couldn’t get in the way because there were people relying on me. I had to make the on spot decision at 23 years old and I had to make it happen.

HSLD: What was your one takeaway from that mission?  


When you’re in charge, you need to be in charge.

It’s your responsibility. At the end of the day, it’s your call so no matter what inputs are coming at you, you need to digest it and you need to take decisive action and execute.

photo (1)HSLD: Let’s focus on your transition out and the failures, challenges and lessons you got from it.   

Gavin: No good plan survives the first shot.

I had a plan after the military to start an authentic Irish pub in South Carolina. I had arranged the financing and was good to go.

When I transitioned out of the military in late 2008, the economy was starting to fall apart. All the guys who were my backers were bankers. These guys who had money were suddenly had none.

What I found was that I was now transitioning out but my plan had fallen apart.

The lesson that I got from that was that I should have probably spent more time building my foundation, building contacts in Charleston, building a greater awareness of what my plan B was going to be.  

HSLD: What would you want to tell that person who was transitioning out?  

Gavin: In the military when your plan fails, you have higher headquarters to fall back on but in life, there are no higher headquarters.

In life, It’s just you.

While it’s good to make a plan and try to execute that as hard as you can, it’s really important to constantly be cultivating your options and plan Bs and Cs. Keep your options open.

HSLD: Tell us about an AHA moment that you’ve had at some point in your civilian journey.  


I thought I knew what I wanted to do but my current business partner told me ”I don’t think you love Irish pub, I think you love business”.

That was my AHA moment. It took me about a year to realize that my real passion was helping others find the capital that I had such a hard time finding. My real love was watching them become successful by helping them with my knowledge.

HSLD: What’s the one thing that has you fired up more than anything else right now?  

Gavin: I’m always looking for ways to grow and be more while still investing in my passion. Currently, I have three main projects. Twin Rivers Holdings- where we invest in different companies and get behind entrepreneurs.

The one that has me excited the most is my branching out and helping entrepreneurs on a one-on-one basis. I have a blog called Southern Seraf.   I’ve just also launched Warrior Investors and Warrior Start-ups, which is an Angel Investment group. These are all centered around my passion and what I’m doing right now.

Gavin’s Lighting Round Answers:

  • What is the most difficult adjustment you had to make to the civilian world? Leaving my buddies behind in the military.
  • What is the best business advice that you can pass along to people that are making their transition now? Read, read, read. Get an audible account.
  • What is one of your habits that you believe contribute to your success? Disciplined execution. Make the plan, and execute
  • Give one parting piece of guidance and What’s the best way that we can find you? My parting piece of guidance is work on building your network. Use those social sites. Connect with me at, and my twitter is @gavinmcculley.

Click here to listen to the iTunes version of Gavin McCulley’s interview

Click here to listen to the Stitcher version of Gavin McCulley’s interview