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Shortcut Your Startup with Courtney Reum.

How to shortcut your startup with Courtney Reum, co-author of the national bestseller “Shortcut Your Startup: Speed up Success with Unconventional Advice from the Trenches”.

Courtney Reum - Entrepreneur

Courtney shares practical advice for entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to market quickly and effectively.

Courtney Reum is the co-author of the national bestseller “Shortcut Your Startup: Speed up Success with Unconventional Advice from the Trenches,” which offers practical advice for entrepreneurs looking to bring their ideas to market quickly and effectively. He is also the Co-Founder of M13, a leading venture capital firm with a portfolio of $137B+ and $900M+ in assets under management.

After helping take Under Armour and VitaminWater public 15+ years ago while working as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, he and his brother Carter founded their first business, the popular spirits brand VEEV, which grew from zero to one of the best-selling independent liquor brands in the US. After the sale of VEEV in 2016, they founded Los Angeles-headquartered early-stage consumer tech investment firm M13.

M13 has invested in 130+ companies, including Bird, Cabify, Cue, Daily Harvest, FabFitFun, Matterport, Ring, Rothys, Scopely, Thrive Market, and Transfix, now each valued at $1B+. M13 is also known for its high-profile investors, such as Richard Branson, Tony Robbins, and Arianna Huffington.

What makes them different is that beyond funding startups, they have a “propulsion team” made up of different vertical experts who help entrepreneurs and their teams make smarter decisions that scale their businesses much faster.

Courtney has been featured on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list, Richard Branson’s book Screw Business as Usual, and Goldman Sachs’s 100 Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs.

Courtney lives in the Los Angeles, California area.

Shortcut Your Startup with Courtney Reum:

  • What does it take (what are the ingredients) to build a highly successful small business.
  • In your opinion, what role does luck play if any?
  • Entrepreneur criteria: Optimistic, Energetic, Risk-Taking, Emotionally Resilient, Visionary, Persuasive
  • What are a couple of the key practices, or switchups, growth-focused entrepreneurs need to adopt to fast-track their success?
  • Please share a few tips for entrepreneurs on how to effectively navigate the fundraising process, including how to prepare for pitches and what investors look for.
  • Is the MVP approach a viable way for small businesses owners with limited resources to grow fast enough?
  • What can small business owners learn from how well funded start-ups are launched?
  • What’s the most important thing you look for before you make an investment in a business?
  • Three Key Questions Before You Start Anything:1. What does success look like for you? (and your partners?)
    2. Why has no one else done this?
    3. Why you, and why now?

Episode Host: Henry Lopez is a serial entrepreneur, small business coach, and the host of this episode of The How of Business podcast show – dedicated to helping you start, run and grow your small business.

More about the book, “Shortcut Your Startup”:

From the Reum brothers—former Goldman Sachs investment bankers, successful operators, and investors—comes Shortcut Your Startup, a practical playbook for both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs, filled with unconventional yet accessible advice for maximizing your business venture.

Courtney and Carter Reum have years of experience in the field, from investing in over 130 companies, including Lyft, Pinterest, Warby Parker, and ClassPass, to driving the success of their own liquor brand, VEEV Spirits. The Reum brothers have learned from every triumph and tribulation, and over the years have developed an effective and easy-to-understand guide to help entrepreneurs through the startup journey from inception to sale. Complete with personal anecdotes and real-life advice from the business playing field, Shortcut Your Startup outlines Courtney and Carter’s ten key “Startup Switchups” that flip traditional advice on its head:

· Get into the Trenches
· Know if You’re a Speedboat or a Sailboat
· Obsessively Take Advantage of Your Unfair Advantages
· Do What You Do Best, and Outsource the Rest
· Build in Flexibility and a Diversified Focus
· Think Milestones, Not Time
· Nail It Before You Scale It
· 1 Percent Better Is 1000 Percent Better
· Gain Buy-in with Heart-Based Momentum
· Success Doesn’t Equate to a Successful Exit

Whether you’re a veteran entrepreneur looking for new ways to boost performance and reinvent your brand, or an aspiring entrepreneur ready to take a leap of faith, Shortcut Your Startup is essential reading to speed up your success!

[Source: Amazon]


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The following is a full transcript of this episode. This transcript was produced by an automated system and may contain some typos and some other minor inaccuracies.

0:04:36.3 HENRY LOPEZ: And then what leads to you deciding, Right, let’s go, I think of you and your brother to go start the spirits company. What prompted that?


0:04:45.1 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, you know, when you’re in your 20s sometimes it’s not a whole lot prompt said other than when you work at the place like Goldman Sachs, got a lot of great training on a very narrow scope or bandwidth of what it takes to build a business, obviously you learn lots of corporate finance, someone’s strategy, and they both… My brother and I felt like there was other parts of business, certainly the relationship side, that the sales and marketing side that we would be good at, or at least wanted to try, and so building a brand and starting a brand would let us do that, and so… The specific idea about spirits was not much more at the time then going out as you do in your 20s and drinking things like Red Bull vodka and thinking, there has to be a better way to do this, and thus our tag line of our first product weave a better way to drink, but as I’m sure we’ll get to part of writing a book is that we got really lucky in starting something with some good intuition and a little bit of trends, but we did not do the research and they’re kind of getting deep in the trenches that one should do now to start something, so we were lucky to have some success with Eve and then even luckier to be able to then share that pattern recognition of a bunch of companies and hopefully help people do it differently and more thoroughly going forward, and


0:06:06.8 HENRY LOPEZ: Interesting to avoid some of those mistakes and to not have to depend so much on everything falling your way, I guess… Right, right, exactly. And it’s interesting, as you point out, if you had… You identified an opportunity there or something, it’s not that you are passionate about drinking, but you knew something about it as a consumer, but you simply identified an opportunity there, and that’s why you went down this path, it sounds like…


0:06:32.5 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, I think I’ve always been a pretty healthy person, I played Cole sports, have always felt better when I sleep better and eat better and all that stuff, but by no means the same tile, I wanna enjoy my life. And so I think when I moved from New York to Los Angeles with a couple of stops in between overseas, this idea of like, Okay, I’m now living most angels in California and people are looking for a healthier diet and a healthy… Or this a healthier, that we really felt like your drinking experience was one of the last things to evolve, and I was shocked the number of people that at a certain diet or did this or did that, and then just drink a bunch of cheap alcohol, so we said, Can we start a better proposition, both in terms of the quality of ingredients in the bottle and also kind of the product and the mission


0:07:24.2 HENRY LOPEZ: When you started the business, did you both have a somewhat definitive exit mind?


0:07:33.4 COURTNEY REUM: Yes, no, I think… Well, the last chapter or book is always talking about when you start something, to make sure you have the exit of mine, so I think that is one of the biggest mistakes I see people doing that they don’t do that. I don’t know if I can honestly say that that’s exactly how we started it, but I will say that I did know from my Golden satay, I had been a part of a couple of spirit deals, and I was amazed by it… If you build some traction what the exit multiples and prospects look like, obviously at the time when you’re reading 10 Ks and 10 Qs and doing market research, it’s very different than how hard it is to sell a bottle or a case on the street, and so there’s a reason to the victor goes the spoils. And it’s that hard to kind of get that traction in sales, but yeah, I think we were aware of it, and especially in a space like spirits, it wasn’t meant to be something where we went possible sale by profit, Little sale, you’re building something with the idea that it’s the difference between building a brand and turning a profit, they’re not always mutually exclusive, but this is an industry where we felt like it was more about growing and building a brand versus optimizing for profit early.


0:08:47.8 COURTNEY REUM: And


0:08:48.1 HENRY LOPEZ: So after this now, you’re an angel investor or venture capitalist, you’ve got M13, so more of this focus on helping others, build businesses, being a part of it. I gotta think that that’s what appeals to you most. Not necessarily going and building a business that you’re gonna own multi-generationally, but to have these different startups that are involved with, that’s obviously what appeals to you and your brother, right?


0:09:15.8 COURTNEY REUM: That’s right, I would say everyone has it different motivations into intrinsic and extrinsic for doing things, I just love to feel like I’m innovating and building, and sometimes that can be on my own, sometimes I can be with others, sometimes that can be through others, and so if I’ve heard anything in the last 20 years of my career that I’ve worked very hard at it is to have some of that freedom, to have this container of M13 where depending on the day and the project, I can feel both entrepreneurial, I can be an investor, a venture capitalist, I can be an entrepreneur a lot of days, it’s a combination of both, and I think it really helps what we do, but it also feels good to be able to operate in those realms.


0:10:05.5 HENRY LOPEZ: Do you think you were always the type that needed to have multiple things going on at once, or you… It was nine years at Leveson, like that was a short stint, but that you need that next thing… Or multiple things going on at once. Is that who you are, you think…


0:10:23.0 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think you touched the one thing that I certainly learned, which is that Veeva, probably closer to a nine, eight, nine year journey, and I think I realized after that, especially with where the world’s going, that maybe I don’t wanna always start something where I know my exits the… Well, so I might not know the company’s a strategy, but I always wanna know my exit strategy meeting, where my best… How can I… I’m one of those people, I work really hard, I come out fast, I go hard, but it’s hard to sustain that for eight, nine years. Right. And so it’s about knowing, Okay, here’s what I’m good at, I’m good at zero to one, A to B or B2C, but have the succession plan or the back-up plan, or the co-founder plant, whatever it may be, that is something I have certainly learned that you kind of touched on and then… Did they answer the other part of your question? Yeah, I do, I think because I wasn’t always a person that knew exactly what I wanna do, I was passionate about one thing, I do think my brother Carter and I, and I should mention early on here that my brother has been my business partner for 15 years and we also both ordinances together and went to the same school, so we’ve been…


0:11:37.9 COURTNEY REUM: And we’re obviously about best friends growing up, so we’ve been intertwined for a while, but I do think that part of our super power is being able, compared to most people to juggle a couple of things at once and have a few irons in the fire, and part of the name of M-13 or company. Now, what it stands for, it’s the brides, cluster of stars in the Western hemisphere, whereby some of the whole shines created than the individual parts. So it is kind of this idea of the constellations and connecting the dots, and I think two of our bigger superpowers are being able to juggle a lot of things, but also then having the pattern recognition to say, Oh, if I take this idea with this person connected to this, we can pull things together and kinda see the path in a way that I don’t think most people can…


0:12:25.9 HENRY LOPEZ: Ahead, curious. We’re working with your brother, like you said, as you have for some time is, I prefer working in partnerships, but there’s complications, especially when you’re working with family, if you would say there is one thing towards the top of the list of reasons why you guys have done it… Well, what would that be, Courtney?


0:12:49.1 COURTNEY REUM: I think trust has to be at the top of the list, family or not, and I think hopefully when it’s a family member, in the good examples, you hear the trust is kind of a greens fee, but a very important Greenspan after that. I would also say that in my brother’s case, we are in the early days, we were very complimentary, but also substitute, I think is a word, and by that I mean we were very good at fairly effortlessly and fluidly jumping in for each other, so he would be working on something, I would be loosely aware of it, but maybe not know all the details, he would get jammed on something and say, Hey, I’m gonna copy on my brother, he’ll run with this, and I would know enough, but also… I think we have enough of the similar skill sets and ways of doing things that he could trust that I would then be able to kind of run with that project and maybe some day he’d take it back over, maybe not… I would post them vice versa, and so I think some of that interchangeability led to a lot of really good results for E, it’s kind of the opposite of in the tech world where we now mostly operate, you tend to kind of have the stereotypical complimentary people right.


0:14:01.3 COURTNEY REUM: The one person is kind of front-facing and he or she is the charismatic leader or a sales person, and the other person is kind of the technical CTO person behind the scene. My brother and I were a little more of interchangeable versus that kind of complementary relationship.


0:14:18.4 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, very interesting, which kind of me is gonna mean that from early on, you were raised right, and then you had the relationship that… You looked out for each other. In other words, the ego battle between the two of you has been kept in check for most of your life, it sounds like…


0:14:36.2 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, I mean, as you know, the line between healthy competition, unhealthy competition, ego is a very thin one, we were certainly very competitive growing up in sports in school, I’m two years older, so as I like to say, there was a lot of competition, but is under Ignacy one set about pizzas. Well, in order for it to be a rivalry, I have to win one, but… So anyways, I’m teasing, but yeah, I think we have a lot of pushing each other to be better, but I think hopefully not losing sight of the fact that we were on the same team and we were a family. And everything else, I think that’s a super important thing that my parents instilled…


0:15:20.6 HENRY LOPEZ: Right, the book that I was referring to, again, that you wrote with your brother shortcut your start-up, speed up success with unconventional advice from the trenches. What led you to write the book?


0:15:36.7 COURTNEY REUM: Well, I think probably a lot of people writing in books was on my bucket list, I didn’t think it would happen at the time it happened, a bit of a kismet serendipitous story that I won’t go into detail on, but I was at an event and someone did one of those things where, Oh, you… Two should know each other. And then they walked away. So the last thing you wanna do is say, War you, what do you do? And you have a little talk with this woman, and at the end of it, she said, Have you ever thought about writing a book? And I gave some kind of quickly answer, and she said, Okay, well, next time your New York… Won’t you come by my office? I’m a literary agent, and that time came a few weeks later, and we ended up chatting about some ideas, and I think it was just that time where we felt like we had some unique experiences and some unique pattern recognition from all the different brands. We had been a part of it one way or another, and writing the book was a great way to do it, ’cause this was…


0:16:36.5 COURTNEY REUM: My dad used to say it didn’t happen if it’s not on paper, and sometimes you don’t know what you think until you put it on paper, and that was certainly the case in both instances with our body.


0:16:47.2 HENRY LOPEZ: And I love the format. Avid, I’ll let you explain it here, but really essentially is the startup assumptions perhaps, or ideas that you switch up, you kinda take, maybe you could argue a contrarian approach or a different approach to what might be a typically common myth or known or previous way to do things, right?


0:17:10.1 COURTNEY REUM: Correct. We call them startups switch-ups, and I think the whole idea is that at least growing up for us, you know, someone said, Let me tell you about business, or you watch something or you do something, and it was different ’cause it wasn’t YouTube videos to watch it nearly as much access to content, but I do feel like a lot of what I heard was a bit of a sea of sameness and I probably worked, but it is a different world, and I think we kind of felt like we’re in this era where people kept doing the same things without realizing the world of change, so we said, I know this is what you might have heard or what might be intuitive, but this is how we’ve actually seen it manifest itself. So we have a bunch of things where we said, This is how it used to be. What we think, this is how it is now. And thus, the terminology startup switch up. At a high level.


0:18:02.6 HENRY LOPEZ: I always wanna ask this question and I got to ask it to you, but at a high level, if you could, if you were to summarize it in a few sentences, what have you observed as to what can lead to a highly successful business what are those ingredients that need to be there for us to have an opportunity to have a successful business?


0:18:22.5 COURTNEY REUM: Let’s see, yeah, there’s a lot to say about that, but I would say the first thing, and it’s the first chapter in our book, most people go into something without actually doing thorough enough market research, we say kind of investigative journalism, getting in the trenches. Now, I’ll caveat that by saying it’s a fine line because I believe… And this is the case for our starting our spirits brand, and I have known then what I know now, I probably wouldn’t have done it. So as a timeline between knowing so much in a little bit of innocence in ignorance is bliss with actually doing enough to make sure your idea is viable, ’cause I see so many people start something and I’m like… I know that I see more of it the most, but there’s actually 10 companies doing that, so you can’t… Do you even did even Google the competition or something basic like that. I think that’s a big part. I do think always thinking about what your exit is and working back from that is so important to kind of go… That’s the start, and then go to the end. Like, what is your end goal? Because most of the things that I start now that are in tech, the goal is probably some sort of exit, if you’re starting a very successful chain of laundromat, maybe there’s an exit, maybe it’s not, but you’re probably running it toward scaling and some kind of cash flow so I think make sure you’re being really clear about that.


0:19:47.7 HENRY LOPEZ: And especially being clear with your partners on that… Right, that’s where there could be a lot of disconnects.


0:19:53.0 COURTNEY REUM: Exactly, and the one thing I think that I see people do a lot is they’re like, Well, I don’t know if I wanna sell it. And it’s like, great, you don’t have to decide, so if you wanna sell it, but if you don’t take steps at every point along the way to put yourself in a position where you have the option to sell it, then I can almost guarantee you won’t have the option to sell, right?


0:20:14.9 HENRY LOPEZ: Right, you have to operate it just like you… I always believe you operated almost as a… It is a franchise unit that you’re gonna replicate into 100 units, Yoni, you don’t, but you… I think that is the best course of operation as if you’re going to sell… It is usually the best way to run a business, I think.


0:20:30.9 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, it gives you the option value, but it gives you the option. But not the obligation. Right.


0:20:39.1 HENRY LOPEZ: This is a relapse briefly pausing this episode. To invite you to schedule a free coaching consultation with me, I welcome the opportunity to chat with you about your business plans and offer the guidance and accountability that we all need to achieve success as an experience, a small business owner, myself, I understand the challenges you’re experiencing and often, it’s about helping you ask the right questions to help you make progress towards achieving your goals, whether it’s getting started with your first business or growing and maybe exiting your existing small business, I can help you get there to find out more about my business coaching services and to schedule your free coaching consultation, please visit the houses dot com, take that next step today towards finally realizing your business ownership dreams. I look forward to speaking with you. So I wanna go back to the research on… Because this is something I could ask for, and I struggle with a lot because I am analytical and I can over-research, and I think you’re getting to that by the Antrim, is it viable? But what do you look for to say, Okay, I’ve done enough research here. I’ve done my projections, I’ve gotten a validated of gun input, now it’s over kill, I need to take that leap of faith.


0:21:56.0 HENRY LOPEZ: Is there kind of you… Do you know when that happens or how do you know that? You’ve done enough of the research.


0:22:04.0 COURTNEY REUM: I think it’s highly independent on the type of pride and the category you’re in, but I’ll kind of personalize it to me, to products or something and say that once you believe it or not, when we start our first products at research consisted of like Google, Google and more Google and that’s about it. And even that was like a little bit of the wild west now. Obviously, that’s very common inter-fingertips, but I think we use an analogy in the book, we call it kind of like the Farmer’s Market version of your product, meaning have you… Do you, at some point, and even if you’re not totally sure it’ll work, there is something really joyful about… Again, I’m using analogies, but scotch-taping your product together and having some kind of flimsy thing that you take to a farmers market and just see how people react and that tells you a lot. And again, sticking with the farmers market analogy, what have you lost? Probably not that much, some time and some effort, but a great life experience, and you’d be surprised what you gain… I can name multiple products that I’ve seen at farmers market, specific ones or general kind of innovations where all of a sudden then you see a Whole Foods two years later, and I know that that started at a farmers market, and you just saw how early adopters and evangelists responded, because that’s what it’s about, it’s not about, Do you start something that a million people liked me, a million people didn’t like anything to start, right.


0:23:34.0 COURTNEY REUM: When Henry Ford started, first car a million people didn’t like that. The quote, but if I would ask people what they want, they would have said A faster buggy. Right, so these always start with early influencers, adopters, a very small subset of people, and then it spreads from there, and so I’m always… When you say, What are you looking for? I’m always looking for that outsized excitement or over-zealot early adopters and influencers, ’cause that tells me if we have something


0:24:05.8 HENRY LOPEZ: And I can get to that quickest, if I take… Some people call it an MVP approach, whatever, and he… Soon as I can get an early version, that Scott tape version to a market to give me that real feedback… That’s what you’re talking about there. Yes.


0:24:21.7 COURTNEY REUM: Yes, absolutely. The star, the sun, you get that MVP out, the better. It can’t be a product with no value or else that usually doesn’t tend to work, but as long as there’s some value… I find it shockingly, if you’re delivering something unique or something of value, it might not be that they are there of the product, but consumers are forgiving if it kind of starts by still delivering some value and they go, Okay, I can see how this will evolve. Just to give a little concrete example, we are one of the first investors in the ring, which I’m guessing a lot of your listeners might have the video doorbell that was on Shark Tank and everything else, and if you saw the first version of that product, and I think we might even mention in the book, Jamie says, I knew we had something, but I was also really embarrassed by the first version of it, and that’s actually kind of the right mix, like he knew some people would like it and they would see it and he was also embarrassed by it, but you can’t wait till like, you’re not embarrassed by it, or else it’s just gonna take too long and to me, orations and probably competition, but it was still delivering some value and that’s probably the perfect tension…


0:25:30.1 HENRY LOPEZ: A great example, a great example. You mentioned it at the beginning, I’ve struggled with how much luck, and everybody can define luck in different ways, but do you think we need as part of this, a little bit of luck, whether it’s timing or what have you, is that part of it? Or do you not believe in luck at all?


0:25:49.8 COURTNEY REUM: Well, I would love to spar with anyone who doesn’t believe in luck at all, but I think there’s a difference, I like the quotes like Chance favors to prepare, and I grew up in Chicago during the late 90s and bulls way in championship. And I don’t think it’s Constance that some people be able…Jordan seems really lucky. I mean, I don’t think that’s a coincidence. I do think there’s an element of luck in all this, for sure, there’s a big element of making your own luck. I think in terms of starting something, I think people forget it’s the right idea at the right time, in the right context, and that is not luck, there’s a lot of analysis that goes into each of those pieces now, sometimes when you don’t do that analysis, it seems like a lot, because you are at the right place at the right time, other people might realize that it is the right context and the right timing for this idea, so that’s where luck plays it, but I tend to believe a little bit in that… Little bit of that, the ball’s in your court and a little bit of that faith, meaning, fat can only bring you so far and the rest is up to you, so I choose to believe in a little bit of that kind of manifest destiny.


0:27:04.8 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, I… With you, sometimes I said is you gotta get in the way of luck, right, so if you can put yourself into people to play, you will definitely not get lucky. Right.


0:27:14.6 COURTNEY REUM: Most of the times, you don’t get that lucky if you never leave your house… Now that I utilised, maybe some people do it, you know what I mean? You kinda have to put yourself in harm’s way of that left issue, as you said.


0:27:25.4 HENRY LOPEZ: I wanna jump to entrepreneurial criteria, you spell out in a book, I won’t go into each one of these characteristics, but these are the things that you lay out that you think are required to be a successful entrepreneur. Let me just rattle them off here, and then I wanna focus on one in particular, you say we have to be optimistic, energetic risk-taking, emotionally resilient, visionary and persuasive. One that I wanna come back and talk a little bit about is risk-taking, because that’s always an interesting one for me, I’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs about this and myself, I don’t consider myself in what I would traditionally think of as a risk-taker, but I’ve come to understand that I just look at risk differently.


0:28:10.5 COURTNEY REUM: But what are your thoughts… Do you consider yourself a risk taker… To your point, yes, I do, and I don’t… I mean, I do, but I also think when I started my first company, business school was the back-up plan, so is that really taking risk compared to a lot of people… I didn’t have a family where they were king me to put food on the table and kids and everything else, so… Yeah, I do think I took a risk for sure, but I see a lot of people who take a lot more risk every day, and it’s not a competition, but I’m probably in your camp in that I’m pretty hard on myself in terms of the risk appetite and what seems like really risky for other people doesn’t seem that risky for me, because I feel like I do have good confidence that if it’s not a… Well, Kevin Plank, the founder of under armor, when I brought my first investment idea to him, he said, I’d been kind of inspired by him and some others I worked with at Goldman, and his exact quote to me was, Courtney, I feel pretty confident. Did you have a billion dollar idea and you…


0:29:15.2 COURTNEY REUM: I’m just not sure it’s this one, and it’s kind of what I believe in. I know that I have good ideas in there and I know I have bad ideas, so if this one isn’t it, then I always believe that there’s another one in there to date.


0:29:30.4 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, yeah, and I think also what it ties to is because you do the right research, you make sure you have the right idea at the right time in the right context, that frames the risk for us, doesn’t it… Right, it is still a risk. There’s no guarantee that this thing will work, but we minimize a risk by also as to how much of a money of our chips we put on the table on this particular idea… Right, exactly.


0:29:56.7 COURTNEY REUM: You know, I think people… I think, again, no one’s got this nailed or else they’d be the world’s first trillion air I race, but I do think people forget that there is some… I believe that there is things you can do to increase your chance is much much like gambling in a casino, and so this is a game of asymmetric risk reward, and now it’s never gonna be 999%, but you can do things to give yourself a better chance of that upside and maybe a little less chance of the downside, and then it’s about other things, but really you can’t lose sight that this is about asymmetric risk reward, and I say no to things all the time now to invest in where I go, I actually think that’s gonna make money, but if this is the upside, that’s not enough upside for the downside risk I’m taking, and yeah, I think the more you stick to those principles, they’ll bear out over time, because what happens with a lot of people is you confuse… People confuse her, the outcome with the process, you can have the wrong process, and I’ll call it a good outcome.


0:31:01.1 COURTNEY REUM: Just like you can have a bad outcome and you have the right process, but you kinda have to trust that process that eventually it’ll pay off, or if you’re making the wrong process eventually will catch up to you, I believe.


0:31:11.9 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, makes sense. Alright, I wanna touch on fundraising, ’cause obviously you’re expert at this, and of course, looking at it from a very small business owner’s perspective, what can we learn, what can I learn as a small business owner who might be reaching out to an angel investor, perhaps is more likely than a VC at the level that we’re talking about here, but there’s always value to learn, of course, we all watch Shark Tank and think that’s reality, which is a portion of reality, maybe… What can we learn, what shot small business owners know about what at your level you’re looking for when you go to consider an investing in a business idea, what are some of those top things you’re looking for.


0:31:54.7 COURTNEY REUM: You know, I think we call it unfair advantages and some people equivalent me as to whether or not everyone has unfair advantages, and I believe everyone does. I don’t believe all unfair advantages are created equally, your unfair advantages might be more pronounced or bigger unfair advantages to mind, but everyone has it. So I would say when you’re thinking about trying to get investment from someone, just be really good about positioning what your unfair advantages are to the best of your ability, that matters a lot. That goes a little bit to what I was saying about timing and content and context, but I think also, especially at the earliest stages, it is so much about the person, as I’m sure a zillion guest of yours have said before, but I would always take a chance on what I believe is the right person with a pretty good idea versus what seems like an incredible idea, with a pretty good person.


0:32:56.8 HENRY LOPEZ: What are you looking for in that person? Is it the obvious culture, leadership or a track record, or what if they don’t have a car, what do you… Is it a gut feel that tells you this person’s gonna do what it takes to make this happen or give it their best shot, what is it that you’re looking for?


0:33:15.7 COURTNEY REUM: You read some of those adjectives earlier, I think it’s all those things, but I do just think the resilience becomes more important every day for a lot of reasons to me, I think the person… There’s a huge… In the book that I use a lot that I love is the best entrepreneurs. Now, I think the days of that kind of 800-pound carlism rolling, everyone, it doesn’t… There are those people you read about founders of certain big companies, but in general, I think… It’s like being present in the United States, nobody can be on top of everything and no one can be good at everything, so it’s about Do what you do best and outsource arrest, know where your strengths are, and know where you need to fill in the gaps, that’s always the most impressive to me is… And then also, I love the quote, have it, you have to have the best entrepreneurs have a microscope and one eye and a telescope and the other eye because you just to keep an eye on the minutia and you have to keep an eye on where you’re going big picture, and I think that’s a hugely important strategic visionary type of treatment…


0:34:25.9 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, being with a balance both… I wanna go back quickly to the far end unfair advantage, if I’m getting it right, I would equate that to what I would otherwise have expressed as my differentiator, what is it that I think that’s part of my idea or how I’m gonna reinvent the widget that is it gives me an advantage and that could be maybe I’ve developed some piece of IP or is a move first over advantage or whatever it might be, some combination are… I’ve got the guy who’s the expert something, a combination there of, that’s what’s gonna give me that unfair advantage… Edge is what you’re talking about there. That’s one of the things you’re looking for, is that right?


0:35:06.1 COURTNEY REUM: Yes, absolutely, I think what you said is exactly what I believe. The only reason I call it unfair advantage is because I find that people tend to talk about that in terms of their idea, and to be unfair advantage can be both the idea as well as maybe that person, some intrinsic thing or extras or think about that person it could be a trade they have that is particularly sued in this industry, it could be a relationship that they have or something that they found out growing up that doesn’t always directly tie into the idea, if they just told you about the unfair advantages of the idea.


0:35:42.0 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, love it. Okay, before I wrap it up, and did the other great take away from the book that I wanted to chat about briefly, as you say, there are three key questions to ask before you start anything on what the success look like for you. We’ve touched on that, and in particular, if you’re with partners, that’s in part the exit strategy, and what does this look like for you, what is it that you wanna build? Why has no one else done this? That’s always a good question. And let me ask you just quickly or not, because often when we see that there are others in the space, we can look at that as a validation that the market… That there’s a market right now, you could argue their saturation, but when no one else is doing it, do you… What do you typically read into that…


0:36:28.8 COURTNEY REUM: Well, I’m a little cynical and I’m a little bit of the mindset of like, I went to Chicago public school. So although I don’t like confidence if no one’s doing it, I start with, why is no one doing it? And why would I be the one to have this idea of why am I so clever? So I always start pretty cynical with certain things, I can get there and go, Okay, sure, it turns out, but I always start… I find it’s better to start with that mindset versus the, Oh, clearly I thought of this and no one else has.


0:36:58.0 HENRY LOPEZ: Not to mention that when we try it for people who are pioneers or bring something for the first time, there’s a lot of friction there and evangelizing that has to happen sometimes for that product or idea to get traction, is that fair? Correct. Yep. Third, you and why now? So explain just briefly, what do you mean by that?


0:37:23.6 COURTNEY REUM: It kinda goes back to my context and timing and idea, because the question is, Why are you the best student person to do this… Execute on this idea or this proposition right now, it matters so much because I’m a very different person at 40, then I went to 30 than I was at 25, hopefully mostly good. But there are traits that I had at 26 when I started my first company that might better suit certain ideas than at 40.


0:37:59.4 HENRY LOPEZ: Yeah, that makes sense. Again, it goes back to that right idea, right time, right? Context-inclusive of myself and my team within that. Okay, excellent. I know there’s a website specifically where I can learn more about the book… Correct, correct.


0:38:18.4 COURTNEY REUM: The website is to just shut your startup dot com and


0:38:21.7 HENRY LOPEZ: Scout dot com, I’ll have a link to that as well as to Amazon, which is one of the many places you can buy the book, it has quickly become… Quite honestly, one of my favorite books that I’m recommending just because it’s actionable, which is what I try to focus on on the show, and it’s relatively easy to follow, and it’s not a story about how you got rich, it’s about here, here are the things to avoid and the things to follow to improve my chances of success in launching a business is the way I saw it.


0:38:55.7 COURTNEY REUM: Yeah, absolutely, and I actually think… I don’t have an exact number, but I would bet that we mentioned something like 50 friends and companies in the book, and if anything, it’s to say we’ve crowd-sourced all of our best learnings and I don’t have it all figured out, but I do think the pejoratively kind of does have it figured out, if you take the best things from each of the things that we reference in there…


0:39:16.6 HENRY LOPEZ: Agreed. Alright, again, the book is short cut your startup speed of success with unconventional advice from the trenches, written by Courtney ream and your brother’s name again is Carter Carter, REM lofty. But speaking of books, I know you’re a big reader, so in fact, we were talking about one other book that you would recommend, what would that be?


0:39:42.5 COURTNEY REUM: It’s always recently biased, but there’s a share, new friend of my name, Merida book called Not Impossible, do what can’t be done, and if you check out his book and what he’s done, he has a company called not impossible, and he is built… I think he’s like a several time Time Magazine Innovator of the Year, creating things with shoestring budgets that would just blow your mind, and so whenever someone says something, Oh, that can’t be done, or that’s impossible. This book and this guy would just blow you away.


0:40:15.3 HENRY LOPEZ: Excellent, thanks for that recommendation, not impossible, had not heard of that book, and I’ll have a link to it on the show notes page as well. Alright, we’ll wrap it up with this corny… What’s one thing you want us to take away from this conversation that we had? For me, as a small business owner’s perspective, that I can take away from what you’re sharing in the book and what you’ve learned about short-cutting a startup and avoiding some of those mistakes to get there faster, what’s one thing you would have me take away from this conversation.


0:40:48.2 COURTNEY REUM: So many things, but I guess I would say, I always tell people, don’t overthink it in that I believe in the Nike, Just Do It. I do think starting something in entrepreneurship, it’s a little bit of the sharper and better to love and to lost them to have never loved it all with the caveat, don’t just do it blindly, make sure you do your diligence and do it smartly, but I don’t know many people who haven’t done it thoughtfully, and I’m glad they aren’t caddy at least try


0:41:22.2 HENRY LOPEZ: It. And that is the balance because again, we can hide… I find that I do this myself, I can hide behind the analysis and the research or the perfect timing, or waiting for all conditions to be supposedly right. Before I launch, nonetheless, as you explain how to make sure, like you said, it’s the right idea, the right time, that’s a tricky one in the right context, but it goes back also to what we talked about, the MVP approach, for lack of a better term, of getting something out there to validate and dentist and continue forward. That’s well said, yes. Tell me again where you want us to go to learn more about the book or also about 13… Yeah.


0:42:04.7 COURTNEY REUM: The book or cut your startup dot com. And then in terms of what I’m spending my time on now, it’s very much my brother and I’s company with a bunch of great partners called M13, and that’s just 13 Coco. Excellent.


0:42:20.8 HENRY LOPEZ: Are, thank you so much for taking the time to be with me today and share all of this knowledge, especially dealing with my questions from my perspective as a small business owner, I appreciate you being with me today.


0:42:32.1 COURTNEY REUM: It was a real pleasure being on… Thanks so much for having me, Henry.

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