Take Five with Courtney Reum ’01

Courtney Reum
Courtney Reum ’01 is an entrepreneur, a product developer and the co-founder (with his brother, Carter Reum ’03) of the Los Angeles-based investment firm M13. As a former investment banker at Goldman Sachs, he worked on the merger of beverage businesses Allied Domecq and Pernod Ricard — an experience that led to the creation of his own alcohol company, VeeV, which he launched with his brother in 2007. Before selling the brand in 2016, the Reums’ VeeV Spirits was honored as one of Inc. magazine’s “500 Fastest Growing Private Companies in America.” The Reums released the book Shortcut Your Startup, a practical playbook for both aspiring and seasoned entrepreneurs, in January.

What were you like when you arrived at Columbia?

The phrase “deer in the headlights” is about right. My parents raised us to be pretty well-rounded and adjusted — at least for the time — but looking back it was a big jump. I had only been to NYC a few times (one of which was a soccer recruiting trip), had never ridden the subway or been to a bar, and I felt like everyone was a lot smarter and older than I was. It probably didn’t help that I looked 15 on a good day. The first few weeks were a big adjustment but led to a ton of personal growth once I settled in, for which I am eternally grateful to the College, and to my parents for pushing me to get out of the Midwest.

What do you remember about your first-year living situation?

JJ9! I remember the door to my room swinging open and my mom saying “Oh my gosh, it’s so small … I’m not sure you’ll fit in here!” I’m glad I got a single yet had a great floor and dorm of people to socialize with. One of my closest friends — Avery Moseley ’01, who became captain of the football team — was on JJ9 with me and I just attended his 40th birthday party, so I made some great friendships that have endured.

What class do you most remember and why?

It would have to be either Contemporary Civilization or scuba diving, since I use both. All kidding aside, CC inspired me to be a dual econ-philosophy major. Despite the philosophy part not being great for my GPA, I’m very thankful for how it pushed me to think analytically.

Did you have a favorite spot on campus, and what did you like about it?

No doubt — the Steps in September or May! Nothing can beat the campus on a sunny day. I used to give campus tours and I would say I could sell anyone on Columbia on those days!

What, if anything, about your College experience would you do over?

Nothing. Columbia gave me an incredible opportunity and I’d like to think I took advantage of it. Along with Carter and our sister, Halle ’06, it became a family affair, as well — thanks, Dean [Eric] Furda!