Cory Spielberg ‘94, Founding Partner at Visionary Capital, is a full-time real estate and private equity professional with over 22 years of investment experience. Cory's most recent passion was a start-up in the golf space called The Press Golf. Cory graduated with a Business degree with an emphasis on Marketing from Saint Louis University in 1998. He is a member of Whitfield’s Board of Trustees. Cory has two boys, Julian (6) and Xander (8). His brother, Tony Spielberg, graduated from Whitfield in 1990.
How did Whitfield prepare you for college and beyond?
As a young person, Whitfield taught me how to create meaningful, authentic relationships with both peers and adults. My confidence in engaging with teachers and coaches grew each year and was, and continues to be, an enormous help. Going to a big university, it would have been easy to get lost. Being able to approach professors allowed me to secure the support and opportunities I needed to be successful.
In addition, the faculty and staff taught me the importance of accountability which I internalized throughout my high school career. Thus, when I enter new environments where perhaps no one is invested in my success, I am prepared because I learned at Whitfield how to be accountable to myself.
Last, the small class sizes allowed me to know my classmates well and be comfortable in my environment. This was the foundation for developing the needed social skills to reach out to others in new environments, helping me grow both as a person and as a professional.
What are you most thankful for from your Whitfield experience, both in and outside of the classroom?
Without question, I am most thankful for the relationships I formed with students and faculty while at Whitfield. To this day, I am still close with peers across grade levels. Professionally speaking, the network I formed from my relationships at Whitfield was vital to building my career when I graduated college. Being a Whitfield graduate meant people knew I was a good person and that ethical decision-making was part of my core.
What opportunities did Whitfield provide you that you might not have had elsewhere?
In addition to the things I have already mentioned, I was allowed, oftentimes encouraged, to try things and fail. This was true both in and outside of the classroom. Not being afraid to fail has led me to many opportunities which have turned into successful ventures. Also, I learned that it was okay to take calculated risks. The ability to recognize when something is not working and then have both the confidence and ability to pivot has led me to who I am today as a professional.
What were your primary interests and activities while you were at Whitfield?
I was extremely involved in athletics from the beginning. I played three sports for a while until I settled on soccer and baseball. I was fortunate to be a starter on the 1994 State Championship Baseball Team my senior year. That run and the memories made with those guys will never be forgotten. I also participated in the Student Council, shaping my voice and sense of self through the leadership opportunities provided.
What skills do you use in your career that you began forming at Whitfield?
My Whitfield education was extremely well-rounded. I learned people skills like active listening, a willingness to reach out to people, and not being afraid to ask questions. Regarding the latter, asking questions was not only encouraged, it was expected. I also learned how to identify the “right” questions to ask. My writing skills surpassed those of many of my peers due to the drafting process used by all of my teachers across subject areas. Last, Whitfield helped me establish solid math and problem-solving foundations which are essential in business.
What is a favorite memory or experience while at Whitfield?
Assembly was so unique and family-oriented. The memory of gathering regularly to celebrate and share information was so much a part of the community connectivity. Assembly was something to look forward to. As a kid, one fear is not knowing what is going on; Assembly connected us to one another and to the larger Whitfield experience which allowed us to be more confident teenagers.
Describe your career.
This one is tough! My “elevator pitch” has become more of an elevator ride to the top of the Empire State building. I have been involved in several start-ups and venture capital, but I spend most of my time engaged in real estate and private equity which range from fundraising to operations to transactional activities. I have still not decided what I want to be when I grow up.
Limiting the failures and knowing when to cut my losses to move on to other ventures has been one of the most important skills I’ve learned. I established a solid foundation as a financial advisor for 11 years out of college which taught me a lot. Sales, networking, and how to read people were big parts of my learning process in that position. This led me to be able to do a number of other things. After UBS Financial, I started a real estate company (Upper End Properties) which morphed into brokerage and property management companies which through acquisitions are operating today under West End Management and Leasing and Circa Properties. I have also been lucky to be involved in other areas of Real Estate including hotel investment, miscellaneous note acquisitions, and various other commercial deals. We started Visionary Capital in 2012 and have been involved in several small private equity deals in several different spaces including Luxury Touring Coaches all the way to Residential HVAC roll-up. Through all of this, we have also been involved in several start-ups, both raising capital and operating these businesses.
While all of the above pays the bills, I am most proud of my work in the non-profit sector. In 2007 I co-founded The Alan Green 4 Chesed Fund in memory of a close friend who passed. We have raised a significant amount of money for some of St. Louis’ greatest charities including Siteman Cancer Center, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Big Brother Big Sisters. In addition to serving on the Board at Whitfield, I am also currently serving as a Director for the Evans Scholar Foundation which provides scholarships to golf caddies throughout the U.S.