Courtney Reum | Crain's Los Angeles

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Courtney Reum

Background:  

Millennial Hub LLC is an investment vehicle and incubator for several consumer, media and tech companies.

The Mistake:

The first company that my brother and I started was an organic spirits line called Veev. When we first started, we raised just enough money to do our first production run — nothing more. So we ordered the bottles from Italy and got them approved by a government agency. After they approved our bottle and logo, we were going to get them decorated and sent over from Italy through the Port of Montreal.

We’re waiting for our bottles to come, and we’re calling and calling, trying to get an update. And the person from the glass company says, “I have good news and bad news. The good news is the bottles are in Montreal. The bad news is you’re not going to be able to get them.”

Apparently, the vessel that was carrying our glass hit an iceberg about 200 yards from the shore of the Port of Montreal, and it gashed the boat to the point where the ship was starting to sink. All they could do was somehow maroon the boat on this iceberg. Everything was stuck there.

You always need to have a plan B or an exit strategy. 

If I had really thought it through, I probably would’ve printed half the bottles or done a smaller test run. I probably would’ve also had some backup bottles. Now it sounds crazy to not have a backup glass supplier.

The Lesson:

You always need to have a plan B or an exit strategy. I would never do any kind of new project without a backup plan or a backup supplier in place. Things you’d think would never happen end up happening pretty consistently.

Follow Courtney Reum on Twitter at @Courtney_Reum.