Carter Reum quit his “cushy job” at Goldman Sachs to launch VEEV Spirits and sold it for millions

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You may not be overly familiar with the name Carter Reum, but the chances are you’ve heard of his spouse.

“Obviously, the world knows my wife is Paris Hilton,” says Reum, who married the Hilton Hotel heiress, millionaire, musician and reality star in November 2021. “I just fell in love with a girl named Paris, just like any other person.”

Sometimes, Reum says he turns to Hilton for advice at his current venture, M13—the firm invests in technologies that it believes power the future of work, health, commerce, and money.

Portfolio companies include meditation app Headspace, social media giant Pinterest and the security company Ring, among others.

“When you think about investing in spaces, like the creator economy, I get to see the world through the eyes of arguably the one that created the whole creator game,” he says.

But in reality, Reum had found plenty of success way before his 2021 marriage to Hilton and is no stranger to wealth himself.

In 2007, he and his brother, Courtney Reum, left lucrative roles at Goldman Sachs to launch the alcohol company Veev.

Within 10 years, the two built VEEV up to become one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the States with more than $10 million in annual sales before they sold the company for more than seven times its revenue.

To date, Reum has seeded seven unicorns, authored Shortcut Your Startup: Ten Ways to Speed Up Entrepreneurial Success, and appeared on Hatched, a TV series that follows entrepreneurs. He gave Fortune a detailed tour of his résumé, including what he learned on his journey toward success.

Goldman Sachs “wasn’t the dream” 

After graduating from Columbia University, Reum kickstarted his career in investment banking in 2004.

“Somehow getting a job at Goldman Sachs was the easiest job I ever got,” he insists while explaining that the reps came to his campus, he bagged an interview and was offered a summer internship. 

“It wasn’t the dream but when I thought about it, I thought to myself, it would teach me the skills that I could then go apply, regardless of what I wanted to do in the future,” he says. “So I always looked at it as a two-year training ground that would teach me—and in that case, it was an easy decision, because I knew I would have a lot of doors open at the end of two years.”

Graduates are often expected to know what they want to do for the rest of their lives and that can be daunting when it comes to finding your first job, but Reum insists it’s okay not to know—he didn’t. 

Instead, he thinks it’s important to take a more holistic view of where each role could lead you later on in life.

“Sometimes you take a job that might put you down a path or maybe even close the door,” he adds. “But oftentimes, you take a role like I did at Goldman, and you know that you’re going to be better in two years after the role than you were before you started the role.”

His “crazy” risk

While still at Goldman Sachs, Reum was offered a role at Oaktree Capital Management, an American global asset management firm.

Reum had two options: He could stay on at Goldman Sachs where his brother Courtney was now also working or he could go down the private equity path. 

He did neither. 

In 2007, the two brothers forged their own path and founded a liquor company, Veev Spirits.

Looking back, he tells Fortune that everyone around them thought they were taking a “crazy” risk by walking away from two great jobs with great salaries but actually, when he broke down the potential outcome of becoming a founder “there was very little downside”

“One outcome is we start a liquor company and we fail miserably,” he begins.

“But at the time, there weren’t many entrepreneurs so I probably would have gotten into a top business school easier, because I didn’t look like every other person who worked at Goldman Sachs and then worked in private equity—which was the typical path to business school.”

So Reum rationalized to himself that even if the business did fail, it would propel him forward in his career. 

“The second “successful” outcome is we build up a company, sell it, and maybe one day, they’ll even let us teach a case study on our company at Harvard Business School,” he adds—and that’s exactly what happened.

His advice on taking a leap of faith when at a career crossroads?

“Try to think not about the step that you’re taking, but try to play for one or two steps on where it might lead,” he advises. “A lot of times people can be short-sighted and just think about the role. But it’s about what that role can lead to.”

There’s no such thing as “making it”

In the aftermath of the commercial success of Veev—as well as the successful partnership he forged with his brother—the Reum duo went into business again in 2016 with M13.

They started out by investing early in 15 portfolio companies that are now each valued at over $1 billion and in March 2022, the venture capital firm raised $400 million in its third fund for founders.

Despite finding entrepreneurial success not once but twice, Reum still doesn’t believe he’s “made it”. 

“Everyone talks about the finality of success”, he says. “I don’t think there’s such thing as you’ve ‘made it’, because then you’re not trying hard enough, or you’re not trying to reach for great enough heights.” 

Every year on Jan. 2, Reum says he shares an article in the company’s Slack channels about Einstein’s fascination with “time compounding”. 

“If you get 1% better every day, by the end of the year, you’re 37 times better because of that power of compounding,” he says. 

So every accolade and milestone that M13 celebrates, is closely followed with Reum declaring to his team, “What’s so exciting is we’ve just begun”.

“I say that because we have no small aspirations but more than anything, it’s a mentality to not settle,” he says. “It’s a mentality not to be complacent—and it’s a mentality to get 1% better every day because if you do that over a few years, the power of getting 37 times better by the end of the year, becomes pretty darn incredible.”

The foundation

And beyond advice on creator economy investments, what role does the marriage to Paris play in Reum’s compounding 1% improvements?

At a larger level, Carter describes marriage to Fortune as the foundation that can set you up for success when trying to balance life and a career.

“Finding that life partner—who’s going to be a teammate and who’s going to make you the best version of yourself while you make them the best version of themselves—is no doubt about it, the most important decision all of us are going to make in our lifetime, because it will significantly impact the rest of your life,” he says.

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