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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on September 16, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This book tells an amazing and seemingly unknown story of how Honest Tea came to be on of the premier cold tea new age beverages on the market. From a consumer standpoint, it's fascinating to see how this product got on the shelf and became a sensation. From an ENTREPRENEURIAL standpoint, it is even more intriguing and inspiring.

It walks you through with beautiful illustrations of all the conversations, creative brainstorming, essential events and meetings, and even a near death experience that leads to the eventual success of Honest Tea. Truly inspiring and also gives a person insight into starting a business, and bringing a product to market. Definitely a quick read and very unique in its approach to telling a great story.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on September 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover
As a serial entrepreneur, I've been trying to encourage my son to learn a little more about business and what we do - to little avail. Within minutes of opening my package, my 15 year old son (who I admit does not like to read, much prefers his Xbox) asked if he could see the book when he saw the format over my shoulder. A few minutes later he was curled up reading it. A business book that could actually be interesting to a teenager? On his own initiative? Congrats, Seth and Barry, for writing a great story!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on September 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
One of my favorite topics is how business can be a force for good in our world. This is an amazing story of a startup business in what some would have called an over-saturated market ... bottled ice tea. Honest Tea took on Snapple and other big players because they had a vision that would make a difference in people's lives. Fast forward 10 years later, they were bought by Coke but kept pursuing that mission, and now 3 years later they are still living out their original mission despite being owned by a mega-corporation. This is the story of how Barry Nalebuff, Seth Goldman, and the team at Honest Tea have succeeded in leading a for-profit business as a vehicle for change ... and the many lessons they learned along the way.

Barry and Seth wanted to make a difference in the world. Barry was in the education sector; his partner Seth started out in the nonprofit and government sectors. They discovered that business can be an even more powerful tool for change. Of course, if the business doesn't thrive, you won't have any impact.

I was skeptical of the comic-style format ... would this be a serious business book that I could learn from? From the first few pages, I knew the answer was YES. The comic format made the book a fast, engaging read, but I still got a ton of practical, inspiring information from the book.

I should say it WOULD have been a fast read if my kids hadn't kept "borrowing" it from me before I had a chance to finish it. The comic format appealed to them and has been a great way to introduce key business and economic principles. I later asked my 13-year-old son to explain "marginal utility" (a concept I didn't learn until microeconomics class in college), and he still remembered it!

This is a book entrepreneurs should read before launching their business. This is a book current business leaders should read to take their business to the next level. And it's a book that parents should buy for their kids to help them learn life-long principles about business, economics, and living a purpose. Most of all, it's a book everyone should read to be reminded about the opportunity of for-profit businesses to change lives and communities for the better.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
At first I thought that I would be irritated by the 'graphic novel' style, but I think it works very effectively, especially to get over some pretty subtle points. I very much liked the graphic means of storytelling. Storytelling makes an emotional appeal to grab the reader and Mission in a Bottle does that even more effectively than would have been the case had Seth and Barry used a classic business book approach. I particularly enjoyed the way they described the turning down of the offer from Nestlé and the acceptance of the one from Coke. It displayed the company's strategy in a way that is not 'fluff', the term of disapprobation used by Richard Rumelt (Good Strategy Bad Strategy: The Difference and Why It Matters) for so many weak strategy statements.

Entrepreneurship students (I teach both entrepreneurship and strategy on an MBA program) would do well to read this book very carefully, as much for what the authors do not say about the entrepreneurial adventure. I told Barry that i was likely to use the book as a set text on my course next year. So I must have liked it a lot.

There are so many theories of entrepreneurship and for every one there are examples of its disproof, While I do make some general statements about what works, each case is different. That's what makes Mission in a Bottle so appealing, because the reader can draw on very specific case material, and realize that, for example, the issues in soft drink distribution do not apply in other sectors, but the 'moral' of the story can still be drawn.

I wish I had read Mission in a Bottle before I wrote my ebook, Telling StartUp Stories: Keep the End in Mind, since Mission in a Bottle is one of the best examples of startup storytelling I have ever encountered.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Can you run a successful (and huge) business and still call yourself "honest"? That's what Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff, cofounders of Honest Tea, explain in the graphic novel business book Mission in a Bottle.

Honest Tea began in 1998, and just a year later it was already a million-dollar company. By 2011, when it was snapped up by Coca-Cola, it was generating $75 million. It's refreshing to think that such a small endeavor can lead to such a huge business, and even more so after you read about the ups and downs that went into making the company work. Major setbacks and a few missteps in decision making threatened to take the new tea company down before it truly flew.

It's fascinating to see a business book such as this unfold in graphic novel form (reportedly, Goldman's sons read comics, which inspired him to put out a business book in the same format). If you're an entrepreneur, or aspire to be one, you'll learn a lot of inside-business tricks here, especially when it comes to resourcefully marketing a new brand.

The pair shares several important business lessons after each chapter, all of which are inspiring for potential new business owners. ("Don't start unless you'll survive imitation"; "Don't compromise on the big things, but compromise on everything else"; etc.). Mission in a Bottle is breezy --- it's a fast and completely enjoyable read --- but it's also packed with some solid business potential for those looking to know how to go about building a successful business brand.

-- John Hogan
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 27, 2013
Format: Hardcover
If you've ever dreamed of doing something you're passionate about (or are currently dreaming about it), this story of Honest Tea's creation will inspire you, motivate you, entertain you, and teach you how to make what seems like a challenge into a successful reality. And this isn't just a book for entrepreneurs (although EVERY entrepreneur should be required to read this). The wisdom in these pages applies to almost anything we may want to do in life, professionally or personally. It's like a combination of a business book and a self-help book (lots of "aha" moments on both fronts), but presented in a page-turning, witty, comic book/memoir format that's as original as the Honest Tea company itself.

The founders -- a business school professor and his former student -- are regular people dealing with the risks and challenges of trying to make an idea work while balancing family life, and their respective personalities shine through endearingly, as do their friendship and passion.

This is a book that's surprising on so many levels. You'll just have to read it to see for yourself.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
When I agreed to review this book, I naturally assumed it would be a straightforward business book, an everyday thing for me. When I got it and it turned out to be nearly 300 pages of comics - or graphic format as it's now called - I immediately thought much less of it.

Reading it however, converted me. From a starting point below the line, I came to appreciate Mission In A Bottle as being effective, affective and mostly, unforgettable. Three things the typical business tome is not.

It is the story of the first decade of Honest Tea, from backing into the idea, to leveraging its future with Coca-Cola - while working very hard to live up to Honest. There are innumerable lessons along the way, and unlike so much in the business press, they are very real, very possible and very human. They are constantly stepping off cliffs into the unknown. The partners' decisions had real implications and often, real consequences. Their thought processes are a revelation. They put themselves on the line every day.

All that comes through clearly, possibly even because of the graphic format. They were very lucky at a number of critical junctures, so they stayed corporately alive as the losses piled up. (I don't think I've read a business book or biography where luck wasn't acknowledged. This one more than most. For all the shelves of management theory, luck takes first place.)

Among the inevitable aphorisms to live by, two stuck with me:
-The problem with most great business ideas is they are a great idea for someone else, not you. (Replaces the worn out Stick To Your Knitting.)
And
-Those who say it cannot be done should not interrupt the people doing it. (Chinese proverb, proving there is nothing new under the sun.)

The corporate eras of Honest Tea are all comic book style stories, followed by a few pages of mostly text collecting the lessons learned from each. Anyone contemplating entrepreneurship would be well rewarded in reading this evolutionary tale. And that's not something I would say about most business books.

David Wineberg
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 30, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Very enlightening. I found myself empathizing with the authors, appreciating their efforts and their mission to change the world through a small drink business. Proving that consumers care about quality. While reading I was learning from their mistakes and mentally taking notes about their strengths and ideals.

I found the graphic novel format to be a much more approachable format to tell their story. The art was well-done, and used to enhance the story with visuals, but not in any way distracting. This is not the type of book I normally read, but due to its uniqueness compared to other business books, I was intrigued. This book has helped me understand the day-to-day struggles of being an entrepreneur, and about the rewards for the ones who can overcome them.

Highly recommend it for upcoming entrepreneurs and young, impressionable minds who enjoy graphic novels. I believe the best way to get a child to read this, is to read it in front of them, and let their curiosity get the best of them.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on December 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When I saw this book was in the format of a graphic novel, I knew that the authors Seth and Barry were on to something. The thought balloons that make up the book's narrative distill all the opportunities, the pain points and the challenges of business into essential truths, and makes sense of the chaos that is inevitable when you are founding a startup. I am a food industry entrepreneur myself... my business is pickles. Starting and then growing an enterprise like Honest Tea is a daunting thing when you are doing all the heavy lifting yourself, especially when what you are lifting can feel like a greasy watermelon most of the time. I know this is true, because I am living it myself as we speak. Mission In A Bottle is a wonderful read whether you are an industry insider or a person who simply appreciates the good story of a couple of fellows who built something significant and did it the right way. Rick Field, CEO and Chief Pickler, Rick's Picks
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff's book is a pure joy to read. The authors approach the difficult and complex topic of developing and establishing a company in a most eloquent and imaginative way. Using the graphic-novel format they take the reader from the initial steps of forming the idea, to founding the company, raising funds, increasing the size of sales and range of products, to establishing the Honest Tea brand in the very competitive beverage industry.

The innovative, expressive and, at times, quite personal touch, along with Goldman and Nalebuff's subtle jokes and intelligent humor make the book a fascinating read. I particularly liked the "Lessons learned..." segments. Within few pages the authors were able to outline the issues for each stage of the company's development. Entrepreneurs both seasoned and aspiring, students of business strategy as well as people who just want to get a glimpse of "what it takes to build a business" will find the book captivating and enlightening.

There are two powerful lessons that I take from the book. First, that one does not necessarily need to compromise one's values and beliefs in order to succeed in the business world. And second, that there is nothing so practical as a good economic theory.
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