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TheGreenerGrass.org News 1205194751 6t04

TheGreenerGrass.org News 1205194751 6t04

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Published by Jamie Lane

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Published by: Jamie Lane on Apr 07, 2010
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+ Drink better, live better: An interview with
VeeV founder Courtney Reum
We\u2019re very excited to share this interview with Courtney Reum, co-
founder ofVe e V. VeeV is the world\u2019s \ue000rst a\u00e7a\u00ed spirit, but it\u2019s more than

an innovative beverage. What\u2019s so compelling about VeeV is the fact
that the company is built on authenticity, honesty, and a foundation of
values that are incredibly rare, even in comparison to other sustainable
products. I feel like I asked Courtney some pretty tough questions,
questions that most other companies would have dodged or given me
a canned answer to, but Courtney never did. Not only is that refreshing,
but as consumers become increasingly demanding of so-called
sustainable companies, I think it will give Veev a long-term, sustainable
competitive advantage that will lead them to success. Please do yourself
a favor and check out what he has to say. Visit the VeeV site for more

Can you tell us the VeeV story in a nutshell?

I started this company with my younger brother Carter. We\u2019re both
original Chicagoans, and moved out to New York when we were 17
and 18 to go to Columbia. I\u2019m two years older, so I\u2019m 28, he\u2019s 26.
After college, we kind of always knew we wanted to do our own thing,
but when you\u2019re right out of college, you don\u2019t have any skillset, any
contacts, or any money, so it\u2019s probably not the best time to jump right
in. I decided I was going to take the \ue000nance route, so I went to Goldman
Sachs, where I was doing investment banking, and my brother followed.

After about \ue000ve years of doing that, four years in New York and one
year in Sydney, I had always focused on the consumer products space.
I worked on the Procter & Gamble/Gillette merger, and more notably
worked on a bunch of startups. I did the \ue000rst Vitamin Water deal where

a little private equity shop in San Francisco put in $20 million and took
out $600 million, I did the IPO for Under Armour, then in spring of 2005
worked on the Allied Domecq/Pernod Ricard merger, which was a $12
billion deal. In the context of that, doing the due diligence, I looked at the
space and said \u201cWow, a Bacardi or Diageo would never do something as

innovative as Veev for a variety of reasons.\u201d

They\u2019re very slow to market, it takes a lot of money for them to give a
new product a chance, and they\u2019re very risk averse. There\u2019s a liability to
it, because if you\u2019re Bacardi, you can just launch Bacardi Super Melon
Gold and you don\u2019t have to take the chance of launching something like
VeeV. Now, it probably won\u2019t be a home run, but it will probably be a
double or a triple, so they usually just stick with brand extension or line


On the \ue001ip side of that, as a consumer living in New York, I was usually
drinking Red Bull and vodkas because I was tired from work all the
time. I was just really bored with the things I was drinking. So the
combination of those things made me think it would be great to come up
with something different that, as our motto suggests, was a better way
to drink.

So we just started out on that idea of a better way to drink, without any
real proposition or any particular ingredients in mind. The \ue000rst step
was to backsolve and \ue000gure out which ingredients would ful\ue000ll that
proposition. The \ue000rst one that came to mind was a\u00e7a\u00ed, the Brazilian fruit.
My brother and I discovered a\u00e7a\u00ed on a sur\ue000ng trip in 2003 and really
loved it, and when did a little research, we said \u201cWow, this is the next big
thing.\u201d You see that it has all the attributes of pomegranate, but it\u2019s much
healthier and has a better backstory from Brazil. We saw that it was
about to explode, so that became our keystone ingredient.

So what are some of the properties of A\u00e7a\u00ed that make it that perfect
keystone ingredient?

A\u00e7a\u00ed is \ue000lled with antioxidants- 57% more than pomegranate. It\u2019s also
generally touted as the most well-rounded fruit or vegetable on the
planet. Whereas if you eat an orange, you get a ton of vitamin C but
very little else. If you eat a\u00e7a\u00ed, you get very real amounts of protein, \ue000ber,
essential fatty acids, and antioxidants. They call it the Amazon Viagra,
\u201cnature\u2019s vitality\u201d in the Amazon, and it\u2019s incredibly healthy.

It only grows in the Amazon rainforest, and if all that wasn\u2019t enough,
Oprah just named it her number one superfood. So that\u2019s what got

us started with a\u00e7a\u00ed. We really liked it because it has a healthier taste pro\ue000le- very exotic, like a dark berry with a hint of chocolate, but it also has a taste that\u2019s just familiar enough yet just exotic enough that it\u2019s a

little different.
Obviously sustainability is a core part of the VeeV brand. Can you
tell us more about that?
I don\u2019t profess to be a member of the green movement for 20 years,
because I\u2019m only 28, but our parents always raised us to be conscious
and aware. They instilled us with the idea that what affects one of us

affects all of us. There was that element where I asked if the alcohol
business was really what I wanted to do. If so, I wanted to make it a little
more meaningful, a little differentiated, and nobody in alcohol space was
doing anything remotely green or eco-friendly. We\u2019re really trying to be
the \ue000rst, be the pioneers. I\u2019m sure- hopefully- people will start copying
us if we have any success. If Bacardi and these other companies start
mimicking VeeV, that\u2019s good for everybody and the planet. Our motto is
\u201cBetter your life, your conscience, and your cocktail.\u201d

On the green front, our biggest initiative is that we donate $1 for
every bottle we sell, right off our top line, back to the rainforest where
a\u00e7a\u00ed comes from, to help offset our carbon footprint and help provide
sustainable, organic a\u00e7a\u00ed through a farming project that we co-fund

withSambazon, who is the main purveyor of non-alcoholic a\u00e7a\u00ed juice.

If you saw our press kit, all our materials are on recycled paper printed
with soy ink. Everybody in the company either drives a hybrid or is
carbon-neutral. Our distillery is the only one in America that gets at least
25% of their power through wind generation, and their distillation uses
about 200% less energy than a traditional hot still. The last thing is that
VeeV is the only alcohol brand that\u2019s a member of Business for Social
Responsibility, and several other leading green organizations likeCo-Op

America and Social Ventures Network.

VeeV launched in May of last year in Los Angeles, a couple months after that in San Diego, about two months ago in San Francisco, and actually as we speak, in Miami.

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