Book review of The Republic of Tea: How an Idea Becomes a Business.
12/01/92 12:54 617 248 8090 INC. MAG. PG1
To: Harriet Rubin, Executive Editor
From: George Gendron
Re: The Republic of Tea: How an Idea Becomes a Business
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Your new book is a gem. The idea itself is inspired: allowing us to observe a new business unfold as two cofounders fax letters back and forth for more than a year, creating and rejecting along the way ideas about products, channels of distribution, marketing and promotion, sources of finance, and the very soul of the tea company they seek to create. For aspiring company owners, the resulting business plan in the back of the book -- a model of brevity and clarity -- alone justifies the $22.50 cover price.
I would be less than honest if I didn't report that some of the faxes that appear in the early stages of the book -- in which the authors trade Philoso-Tea of Life, for example -- were so precious as to drive me to fire up my espresso machine. But I quibble.
The interplay between the young, eager, and inexperienced Bill Rosenzweig and Banana Republic cofounder Mel Ziegler is illuminating. What's more, Mr. Ziegler's distinguished prose is informed with a very particular attitude about business from which even the most seasoned company owner has much to learn. I have no doubt every Inc. reader will purchase at least one copy of this wonderful book, making it likely that the book will be around a lot longer than the new tea company whose launch it chronicles. But not to worry: The Republic of Tea is an equally enjoyable -- and faster -- read when you're sipping a freshly brewed double espresso.
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"In the '70s I was called a 'parasite.' In the '80s they started referring to me as a 'value-added partner.' Now suddenly in the '90s I've been elevated to an 'Entrepreneur of the Year.' "
-- Bill Tobin, founder of PC Flowers (reportedly his eighth high-tech business), in Stamford, Conn., on how big-company attitudes toward start-ups have changed