VeeV, "a better way to drink", is the world’s first certified carbon neutral spirit. Creators Courtney and Carter Reum take pride in their acai berry inspired drinks and design every part of VeeV and VitaFrute Cocktails with “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” in mind. In doing so they allow you to toast away without the guilt. Deciding to go into the wine & spirits industry is one beast, but pursuing such a limited line is a completely different passion all in itself. How did you become engrained with mixing environmental concerns with cocktails? We first experienced the açaí berry during our surfing trip to Brazil and learned about its superfruit health properties. It sparked the idea to bring açaí home in the form of a superfruit spirit before the trend emerged in the U.S and that’s when we launched VeeV in 2007. Our brand also supports and donates to great causes. In addition to being an active member of the environmental charity group 1% for the Planet® – a global movement of companies that donates at least one percent of annual net revenues to environmental organizations worldwide – we have given to organizations that directly benefit the restoration and replantation of the rainforest and support the region's farming communities. What lessons were you taught that apply to how you run the operation now? Our only experience in the liquor category was through our work at Goldman Sachs, so in order to learn the ropes quickly we asked a lot of industry professionals for guidance.
Working for start-ups and watching them develop over time taught us to be patient, diligent and extremely detail oriented in order to achieve success.
What kind of education or training outside of college did you have to develop to successfully run Veev? Courtney: My job as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs in New York City and Sydney, Australia. I worked on various consumer products and beverage clients, such as Procter & Gamble, Under Armor and Glaceau’s Vitaminwater.
I was also part of the Pernod Ricard / Allied Domecq merger in the spring of 2005, which served as the catalyst for developing VeeV. Working with spirits brands helped me recognize there was a lack of alcoholic beverages with “better for you” ingredients that embody healthier qualities.
Carter: Like Courtney, I was an investment banker at Goldman Sachs, but my experience at Champ Ventures in Sydney triggered by interest in start-ups. Having dealt with several entrepreneurial start-ups helped me understand the hard work, dedication and energy that’s necessary to get a small company off the ground. Who has been your biggest inspiration to pursue your own dreams? We would say that Richard Branson of Virgin Group is a person that inspired us to pursue a path of entrepreneurship, as well as someone that continues to serve as motivation each day to reach out into new directions with our business plan.
With his keen business mind and focus on diversification, Branson is someone that reminds us to keep moving forward, keep pushing and most of all, to do what you love.
What do you consider to be your competitive advantage? As we researched the cocktail industry, it was clear that ready-to-drink cocktails were growing amongst consumers; however the category is dominated by sugar-filled or lower calorie “skinny” varieties. This is the gap that we envisioned to fill – a lower calorie cocktail that still has the quality taste.
VitaFrute Cocktails by VeeV are made with all-natural and organic ingredients all less than 125 calories per serving and 30 proof – the first of their kind. What is the biggest tip of advice you could give to entrepreneurs attempting to break into the wine & spirits industry? You must be patient with the process and understand and accept that things won’t always go the way you envisioned, but that’s the learning experience behind following your passion. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to define a brand and clearly communicate that to consumers.
What core values of the brand do you convey by undergoing such a rigorous and limited production cycle? VeeV products are made with all natural and organic ingredients and that’s what we value, that’s what makes our products different from our competitors. Along with making delicious cocktails, we value being a company that is eco-friendly and has sustainability tactics top of mind. Where do you envision the company legacy being in the next 5, 10, 50 years down the line? This year, we were excited to launch the VitaFrute Margarita, Lemonade and Cosmopolitan Cocktails in select markets and are looking to grow the brand and bring these great drinks to customers all over the country.
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