The Carter & Custer Story: Meet Founders Jim Carter & R.T. Custer

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What makes a great business partner?

There could be a number of things that set one business partnership apart from another, and those differences could forecast the company’s outcome. 

If you have too many similarities with your partner, your business could struggle to gain traction because you both work inside the same box. But if you’re too different from each other, your opposite personalities could pull the brand in entirely different directions.

Business partnerships can be challenging, and they don’t always work out how we see them at the start. It takes that unique blend of similarity and difference to be great business partners.

Take the founders of Apple, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, for example. Wozniak was the engineer of the two, and he even admits that he didn’t have plans to sell one of his computers. However, Jobs knew they had something extraordinary — he saw the potential to revolutionize the tech industry with their innovations.

We may not have Jobs and the Woz, but at Carter & Custer, it’s safe to say that we’re blessed to have the founders that we do have. Our CEO, Jim Carter III, is an SEO wizard and tech engineer with a vision for helping brands impact the world through marketing, and our CRO, R.T. Custer, has passion for days and loves building solid relationships through sales.

Today, we’re going to take a deeper look into the entrepreneurial journeys of our co-founders, what lights them up, and their purpose behind C&C. Let’s get into it!

Jim Carter III: SEO & Growth Genius, Philanthropist, Engineer

Conversations with Jim about his entrepreneurial journey don’t begin with how he’s helped build 7-figure businesses, worked for years in the tech industry, or how he raised over $10 million in charity in only a few weeks. No, when you talk to Jim about where his journey began, it always starts at the beginning with his experiences in the Boy Scouts.

Early mentorship played an extraordinary role in Jim’s younger years, and he likes to say that he got an “unfair advantage” from his scoutmaster when he was a kid. Jim’s engineering, Enneagram 5 personality showed from a young age, and his scoutmaster saw that in Jim and encouraged him to follow his passion for computers. 

According to Jim, this early mentorship made the most significant impact on his success today. It’s what drove him to realize his desire to work with tech and led him into a career in technology. During his career in software engineering, Jim gained a deep understanding of search engine optimization (SEO) and what it takes to be seen by Google when building a brand.

Over time, Jim found that his career in software engineering didn’t light him up as it had in the past. He wanted to find a way to step out from behind the keyboard and find new ways to make an impact on the world with his talents. This desire to align his work with his purpose drove Jim to step into the world of nonprofits.

Jim always had a heart for service after growing up in the Boy Scouts, and his desire to give led him to work closely with the charity Pencils of Promise. By giving of his talents, Jim has helped PoP optimize its tech stack and raise millions of dollars through donations and fundraisers.

Ultimately, his charity work and tech background led to the inception of Cause Hack, one of the legacy businesses that became the Carter side of Carter & Custer. Cause Hack’s mission for purpose-driven marketing is still alive in our goal to help clients make an impact with their brands.

R.T. Custer: Brand-Builder, Watchmaker, Achiever

It may seem like a trend with our founders, but R.T.’s entrepreneurial journey also started in childhood. 

When you listen to R.T. tell his story, he’s quick to let you know that he was fated to become an entrepreneur from day one, and much of that ingrained desire came from where he lived as a kid. To truly get a sense of why R.T. feels like being an entrepreneur came built-in, you need a bit of family history.

In 1941, R.T.’s great-grandfather had worked for the state of Pennsylvania as a Forester for 25 years without getting a raise, which didn’t sit well with him. So, he decided he’d rather step out on his own than stay in his current position. This decision led R.T.’s great-grandfather to establish a Christmas tree farm that was passed on through the generations and became his parents’ side-hustle.

Instead of receiving a weekly allowance for doing chores as a kid, R.T. got to earn his money by working on the farm. Growing up this way not only taught R.T. that hard work and determination pay off, but it also opened up the world of entrepreneurship to him at a young age.

As a high achiever and Enneagram 3 with a bit of type 2 mixed in, R.T. has a passion for success and building deep connections while achieving his goals. This drive is apparent in R.T.’s determination to build exceptional brands while creating a strong community through his products and personality.

R.T.’s list of entrepreneurial achievements is already long, and it’s only continuing to expand — all the way from building a six-figure house painting business in college to creating Vortic Watches, the only American-made watch manufacturer. 

His experience developing brands and passion for connecting with others inspired R.T. to launch a marketing agency in 2021 — Fortitude Agency. Fortitude specialized in developing marketing strategies, product promotions, and overall brand design for emerging entrepreneurs and is now the Custer piece of our C&C puzzle.

A Meeting of the “Master”minds

So, now that we’ve covered the origin stories of Jim and R.T. and learned a little about the agencies that have meshed together to become Carter & Custer, there’s only one question left to answer — how did our founders meet?

After all, it’s not like they lived around the corner from each other. Jim’s from Oakland, CA, and R.T. lives in Fort Collins, CO.

Enter the Fast Foundations and Elite Entrepreneur masterminds. These mastermind programs empower entrepreneurs to grow their businesses, expand their networks, and gain a deeper understanding of how they can impact the world. And it just so happens that Jim and R.T. participated in the same mastermind groups.

They knew each other for a while because of the groups but hadn’t sat down to really talk about their businesses. However, one day after an Elite Entrepreneur mastermind session, that changed.

R.T. kept hearing about Jim’s tech genius, and after one of their sessions, he decided to pick Jim’s brain about “a bunch of tech things” about his marketing agency. The conversation started about how R.T. could optimize some of his processes, but it turned into much more. 

As the conversation developed, R.T. and Jim realized they had similar goals that they wanted to achieve with their marketing agencies. They both wanted to help entrepreneurs maximize their potential for impact, and they also wanted to influence positive change in the world with their brands.

Even though they wanted to achieve the same end goal, they took a completely different marketing approach. R.T. chose to narrow in on consumer-focused goods and services, which built the foundation for high-quality video and photography content coupled with Shopify sites. On the other hand, Jim tailored his company toward backend operations, SEO, and content multiplication/distribution.

So, Jim and R.T. broke out their org charts to compare and contrast — and at that moment, something incredible happened.

The Rise of Carter & Custer

It’s incredible how much impact one conversation can have.

All it took was one question, “Hey could you help solve some problems with my backend tech strategy?” to begin the process of creating Carter & Custer. During a conversation that started about tech strategies, R.T. and Jim recognized their differing approaches to marketing and decided to take the conversation a bit further.

So, Jim and R.T. broke out their org charts to see what the company would look like if they combined forces — and the results were incredible.

As they looked at their companies printed out side-by-side, Jim and R.T. found that they could merge their organizations without losing a single employee! And in the world of business mergers and acquisitions, that’s completely unheard of. 

This newfound discovery prompted Jim and R.T. to immediately get the wheels turning on blending the companies. Within a matter of months, Carter & Custer was born.

The merger couldn’t have been better for our founders and our team, and even though the company is practically brand new, it feels like they’ve worked together for years. The combination of Jim and R.T.’s opposite personalities and their unified goal of making an impact has opened incredible doors at C&C. 

Each founder can play to their strengths in the business. Jim focuses on creating the vision for the organization and engineering tech solutions. At the same time, R.T. does what he loves by building relationships with new and existing clients via sales and client acquisition.

Our story at C&C isn’t your typical tale of business acquisition — it’s proof that when you start with the proper foundation, you can make a massive impact.

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