Honest Tea’s Inspired Mission in a Bottle
The founders of Honest Tea collaborated on a tell-all graphic novel, Mission in a Bottle (Crown Business, 2013), revealing to tea drinkers and readers alike the chaotic and inspiring world of eco-entrepreneurship. In their hybrid business guide/autobiography, “T-EO” Seth Goldman and business partner Barry Nalebuff work with artist Sungyoon Choi to detail the precarious balancing act of running a successful start-up business when ethics are a priority and excellent tea is on the line.
The premise is simple: Harvard professor (Nalebuff) and student (Goldman) team up to fill a hole they see in the beverage industry. But the follow-through is a bit more complicated, as finding a semi-sweet, organic alternative to juice and soda turns out to be a challenge in and of itself. And that’s without taking into account the marketing and production woes. But each curveball thrown at Honest Tea’s founders is hit way out of the park, firmly living up to the brand’s high standards—rooted in transparency and responsibility—and winning over readers in the process.
Mission in a Bottle reads a far cry from your superhero comic book of yesteryear. Instead of BLAM! and POW!, readers can expect more soul-searching, and insights into ingenious business practices, but no less of an inspired fight: As a reader, I found myself empathizing with Nalebuff and Goldman more and more each chapter.
The novel’s graphic narrative treasures—Seth’s beautifully illustrated visit to a South African tea cooperative and Honest Tea’s high-level corporate negotiations in never-ending boardrooms, for example—are paired with brief, text-based summaries that comment exclusively on business decisions. This structural choice opens readers up to Seth and Barry’s personal travails while allowing us to glean valuable insights not commonly found in other business literature; (but though the story has plenty of heart, this dual nature can, at times, make the intricate plot difficult to follow).
Uniquely packaged, Mission includes vital information for the entrepreneurial spirits among us. It left me yearning to learn more about Honest Tea’s future (in a follow-up, perhaps?), now that Coca-Cola holds the company’s reigns. And as an absorbing, quick read, it shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you fancy drinking Honest Tea or have the next big idea brewing for the organic foods industry.
Pick up a copy at your local bookstore, or download the eBook today.
Tags: Barry Nalebuff, book review, entrepreneur, green news, Honest Tea, inspirational, Mission in a Bottle, Seth Goldman, socially conscious, Sungyoon Choi