For years, we’ve been hearing from the business media about scaling fast, burn rates, and failing fast. Everything is fast, fast, fast! But the Department of Commerce puts the failure rate of new ventures at 90% within the first 5 years! Now, that is failing fast! But, is that the outcome startups are really looking to achieve?

Conventional investor wisdom is simple: just invest in 10 – 20 startups, play the numbers game and hope for a unicorn. And the unicorns fill the covers of the business magazines with unlikely stories of instant success. This certainly panders to their readers desire for a fast track to success. But like Las Vegas, it’s only the winners you hear about.

Building the Barefoot Wine brand, we made a ton of mistakes. Since the acquisition, we have been writing, speaking and blogging on two sites about our real-world experiences. We have spoken at over 50 schools that teach entrepreneurship and regularly contribute to several business publications. Our goal is to increase the odds of success by sharing insights that come from actually doing it, so others, like you, don’t have to make the same costly, time-consuming mistakes we did.

We have been promoting the Barefoot Startup movement in an uphill battle against the backdrop of this kind of conventional “fast wisdom” for years. Now, finally, some help is on the horizon. We are absolutely thrilled with the new business book: Shortcut Your Startup: Speed Up Success with Unconventional Advice from the Trenches.

It’s the brain child of Courtney and Carter Reum, the founders of M-13, “a diversified holding and branding development company at the nexus of consumer brands, media and technology.” Their new book promises to “flip traditional startup advice on its head.”

Hailing from the beverage alcohol business like ourselves, we have an added level of respect for this dynamic duo. They created VEEV Spirits and took it through every stage of development from identifying the market opportunity, hand selling, building their customer base, taking it national, expanding their line, and monetizing on their brand equity through a successful acquisition. From what we know first-hand about the difficulties of that particular industry, this is an amazing outcome to a daunting task!

They started VEEV after successful careers at Goldman Sachs. They wanted to create a “one of a kind vodka alternative” with a commitment to sustainability and innovation. And they did just that.

Since then, M-13 has invested and involved itself with over 130 companies in the consumer brand, media, and technology spaces like, Pinterest, Lyft, SpaceX, Warby Parker, Bonobos, Thrive Market, Tender Greens, Pressed Juicery, KeVita, Blue Bottle Coffee, BirchBox, Ring, and more.

Their new book, Shortcut Your Startup, is based on their own experiences and that of their associates. These real-world lessons are a must-read for any serious startup. Some of the principles with which we wholeheartedly agree include:

  • “Do What You Do Best, and Outsource the Rest.” This is always great advice. Too many startups try to do it all. We used outsourcing for most of our business functions so we could focus on sales and quality control.
  • “Nail It Before You Scale It.” We like this way of putting it. We say, “Don’t scale to fail,” and, “Get your act together before you take your show on the road.”
  • “Think Milestones, Not Time.” We advise our clients to understand the milestones and focus on their achievements no matter how long they take.
  • “Get into the Trenches.” We like to say, “Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty; you will gain insights you can’t see from your office.”
  • “Gain Buy-In with Heart-Based Momentum.” We advise or clients to “Give your customers a social reason to buy your products, and turn them into advocates.”

There’s much, much more in this great startup toolbox to help you achieve the success you have always imagined. We are proud to give Shortcut Your Startup two toes way up!

Who We Are

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey Barefoot Wine Founders

Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey co-authored the New York Times bestselling business book, The Barefoot Spirit: How Hardship, Hustle, and Heart Built America’s #1 Wine Brand. The book has been selected as recommended reading in the CEO Library for CEO Forum, the C-Suite Book Club, and numerous university classes on business and entrepreneurship. It chronicles their humble beginnings from the laundry room of a rented Sonoma County farmhouse to the board room of E&J Gallo, who ultimately acquired their brand and engaged them as brand consultants. Barefoot is now the world’s largest wine brand.

Beginning with virtually no money and no wine industry experience, they employed innovative ideas to overcome obstacles, create new markets and forge strategic alliances. They pioneered Worthy Cause Marketing and performance-based compensation. They built an internationally bestselling brand and received their industry’s “Hot Brand” award for several consecutive years.

They offer their Guiding Principles for Success (GPS) to help entrepreneurs become successful. Their book, The Entrepreneurial Culture: 23 Ways To Engage and Empower Your People, helps corporations maximize the value of their human resources.

Currently they travel the world leading workshops, trainings, & keynoting at business schools, corporations, conferences. They are regular media guests and contributors to international publications and professional journals. They are C-Suite Network Advisors & Contributing Editors. Visit their popular brand building site at

To make inquiries for keynote speaking, trainings or consulting, please contact