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On a warm September night in 2002, former acquaintances Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis reconnected at a mixer for new students at Harvard Business School. Alexis had just ended a four-year run at eBay during the dotcom boom and bust. Alexandra had just spent three years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Now they were entering the country’s top training ground On a warm September night in 2002, former acquaintances Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis reconnected at a mixer for new students at Harvard Business School. Alexis had just ended a four-year run at eBay during the dotcom boom and bust. Alexandra had just spent three years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Now they were entering the country’s top training ground for future titans of Wall Street and the Fortune 500.   Little did either suspect that five years later, they’d become famous not in finance or consulting or corporate management, but at the bleeding-edge intersection of fashion and technology. Gilt Groupe – launched by Alexis, Alexandra, and three colleagues in 2007 – is one of the most fascinating startups of recent years, with a valuation of more than $1 billion. And it all began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop. As Alexis and Alexandra write about the day Gilt.com went live: “We had created a website that could potentially change the rules of retail, for both shoppers and brands. If shopping was traditionally a slow, leisurely activity that might consume an entire day, it would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling—a rush delivered at the same time each day. Shopping would become not just easier, but so much fun.” But turning that vision into reality wasn’t easy. Designers had long controlled their own sample sales by staging them in anonymous, makeshift locations and strictly limiting invitations. Those lucky enough to hear about a Marc Jacobs or Hermès sample sale would drop everything and run for dramatic, fleeting bargains. Why should elite brands support a new startup trying to replicate the experience online? And even if brands like Valentino, Christian Louboutin, and Zac Posen got on board, would shoppers embrace such a website? Would the kind of people who love high-end fashion really visit a new online sale each day? Was “accessible luxury” a breakthrough idea or an absurd oxymoron? Alexis and Alexandra share their perspective in this dramatic story of Gilt’s birth, rise, and evolution. They show how they juggled the conflicting needs of their suppliers, engineers, marketers, and potential investors. They explain how they blended their individual strengths and weaknesses and managed their rapidly growing team. They cover the growing pains of expanding into new categories like housewares, travel, and menswear. And they take us through the darkest moments of the recession when Gilt might easily have died. As you’ll learn from the true story of Gilt, anything is possible for those with the creativity to recognize a new opportunity and the perseverance to make it real.  


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On a warm September night in 2002, former acquaintances Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis reconnected at a mixer for new students at Harvard Business School. Alexis had just ended a four-year run at eBay during the dotcom boom and bust. Alexandra had just spent three years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Now they were entering the country’s top training ground On a warm September night in 2002, former acquaintances Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis reconnected at a mixer for new students at Harvard Business School. Alexis had just ended a four-year run at eBay during the dotcom boom and bust. Alexandra had just spent three years as an investment banker at Merrill Lynch. Now they were entering the country’s top training ground for future titans of Wall Street and the Fortune 500.   Little did either suspect that five years later, they’d become famous not in finance or consulting or corporate management, but at the bleeding-edge intersection of fashion and technology. Gilt Groupe – launched by Alexis, Alexandra, and three colleagues in 2007 – is one of the most fascinating startups of recent years, with a valuation of more than $1 billion. And it all began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop. As Alexis and Alexandra write about the day Gilt.com went live: “We had created a website that could potentially change the rules of retail, for both shoppers and brands. If shopping was traditionally a slow, leisurely activity that might consume an entire day, it would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling—a rush delivered at the same time each day. Shopping would become not just easier, but so much fun.” But turning that vision into reality wasn’t easy. Designers had long controlled their own sample sales by staging them in anonymous, makeshift locations and strictly limiting invitations. Those lucky enough to hear about a Marc Jacobs or Hermès sample sale would drop everything and run for dramatic, fleeting bargains. Why should elite brands support a new startup trying to replicate the experience online? And even if brands like Valentino, Christian Louboutin, and Zac Posen got on board, would shoppers embrace such a website? Would the kind of people who love high-end fashion really visit a new online sale each day? Was “accessible luxury” a breakthrough idea or an absurd oxymoron? Alexis and Alexandra share their perspective in this dramatic story of Gilt’s birth, rise, and evolution. They show how they juggled the conflicting needs of their suppliers, engineers, marketers, and potential investors. They explain how they blended their individual strengths and weaknesses and managed their rapidly growing team. They cover the growing pains of expanding into new categories like housewares, travel, and menswear. And they take us through the darkest moments of the recession when Gilt might easily have died. As you’ll learn from the true story of Gilt, anything is possible for those with the creativity to recognize a new opportunity and the perseverance to make it real.  

30 review for By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Huntley

    Gilt is the story of the founders of the website Gilt, their background and their efforts in bringing the site online. It's interesting to read about their connections, their processes and their successes. What it's not is a how to book for the average person who wants to succeed in business. The book certainly throws in some suggestions for forming a team, seeking capital and developing a business plan, but unless you are connected enough and wealthly enough to get a Harvard education and pour Gilt is the story of the founders of the website Gilt, their background and their efforts in bringing the site online. It's interesting to read about their connections, their processes and their successes. What it's not is a how to book for the average person who wants to succeed in business. The book certainly throws in some suggestions for forming a team, seeking capital and developing a business plan, but unless you are connected enough and wealthly enough to get a Harvard education and pour hundreds of thousands into a business this is not going to be a step by step guide for you. I loved reading about the fashion industry, that was enlighting as well as interesting. I admire the two for having a vision and seeing it through to become a great success.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lu

    The best part of this book was the bullet point summaries of advice for starting/maintaining a business. The questions they invited the reader to ask herself were really thought provoking and I feel like I really learned from Alexis & Alexandra about the business world and the tech start-up world. I also liked this book because I was inspired to hear the story of two driven, passionate women who started a wildly successful business without sacrificing their femininitiy or the close friendship. B The best part of this book was the bullet point summaries of advice for starting/maintaining a business. The questions they invited the reader to ask herself were really thought provoking and I feel like I really learned from Alexis & Alexandra about the business world and the tech start-up world. I also liked this book because I was inspired to hear the story of two driven, passionate women who started a wildly successful business without sacrificing their femininitiy or the close friendship. Big business and tech companies can often be perceived as a 'man's world' but these two made it their own, while looking fabulous. I'm not super into fashion so the designer name dropping didn't impress me. And their story is pretty NYC-centered which at times rubbed me the wrong way. I love New York but there's a big world out there, ladies. I also wish they had given more details about their challenges and failures. I don't believe that the process was always as rosy and as fun as they seemed to say. The book mentions that there were challenges but in no further detail than that. You never lost a supplier? You never totally screwed up someone's purchase? You never had a jerk finance guy belittle you? There are ugly moments of starting any project, let alone a multi-million dollar tech retail operation, that are inevitable but Alexis and Alexandra were too afraid to share. Overall, I enjoyed it as an inspiring business book but I wish the ladies would have given me the whole story.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    What a fantastic read! I've been a fan of Gilt Groupe for many years, and was so excited when I saw that "the A's" had written a book chronicling their adventures as they started their company from the ground up. This book gave so many important tips, hints and suggestions as to how to not only start your own business, but how to succeed in any business. Some of these fabulous tips include loving who you're working with, maintaining relationships both big and small, and not overlooking the little What a fantastic read! I've been a fan of Gilt Groupe for many years, and was so excited when I saw that "the A's" had written a book chronicling their adventures as they started their company from the ground up. This book gave so many important tips, hints and suggestions as to how to not only start your own business, but how to succeed in any business. Some of these fabulous tips include loving who you're working with, maintaining relationships both big and small, and not overlooking the littlest things, whether it be details or people. They really showed how the company had its ups and downs, all while on this hugely roller coaster ride of the business world. They seemed relatable and friendly, even when talking about wearing high fashion brands to big important business meetings. If you're interested in business, or want to do well in your given career field, I would highly suggest checking out this book. I received an e-galley courtesy of Portfolio and NetGalley. This in no way impacted my review of the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Carolann

    In case you are unaware, I work at a New York technology start-up. A female-run, beginning from nothing, bound to be great (fingers crossed!) start-up. And to answer some previously posed questions, no, we do not have liquor carts delivering us drinks in the afternoon, or omelet and coffee bars greeting us every morning. We have instead one cubicle space rented from a co-start up pal, a couple of macintosh laptops, and days that run from 7am to 7pm – with any luck. Can you now see why I decided In case you are unaware, I work at a New York technology start-up. A female-run, beginning from nothing, bound to be great (fingers crossed!) start-up. And to answer some previously posed questions, no, we do not have liquor carts delivering us drinks in the afternoon, or omelet and coffee bars greeting us every morning. We have instead one cubicle space rented from a co-start up pal, a couple of macintosh laptops, and days that run from 7am to 7pm – with any luck. Can you now see why I decided to read this book? The Gilt Girls – lovingly referred to in the book (by themselves and their friends) as A&A – were in my shoes back in 2007 (metaphorically speaking as I wear converse and they wore Louboutins). They were two young, hard-working woman who came together because they had ... READ MORE

  5. 5 out of 5

    Kim Wallace

    "By Invitation Only" is an easy and enjoyable read — and a must-read for women entrepreneurs in the fashion/beauty business. I like that the authors/cofounders state from the beginning that the writing style will be a bit strange (they refer to themselves as "The A's" or in the third person throughout to show who was making what decision), but the real content of this book is a successful startup story ... with all the bumps, kinks and typical new-business blunders they faced. It's an inspiring "By Invitation Only" is an easy and enjoyable read — and a must-read for women entrepreneurs in the fashion/beauty business. I like that the authors/cofounders state from the beginning that the writing style will be a bit strange (they refer to themselves as "The A's" or in the third person throughout to show who was making what decision), but the real content of this book is a successful startup story ... with all the bumps, kinks and typical new-business blunders they faced. It's an inspiring story of how two women found a gap in the market (how do you democratize sample sales and convince luxury brands to sell at a deep discount to you instead of Loehmann's, etc.?) and built a business out of it. It doesn't get too technical / jargon-y with startup lingo, but you should probably have a grasp of how venture capital and business pitching works to appreciate the things they went through to sell their concept to big backers.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Devika

    This book is a very easy read. I especially loved the whole girl power aspect of it, considering that the co-authors as well as the co-founders of Gilt are two ambitious women. It is rare to come across books on female leaders, especially among the entrepreneurs. I loved how they outlined their own leadership styles, which reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. One doesn't have to be masculine to be a successful leader. Women have other traits that can also help them- empathy and the ability This book is a very easy read. I especially loved the whole girl power aspect of it, considering that the co-authors as well as the co-founders of Gilt are two ambitious women. It is rare to come across books on female leaders, especially among the entrepreneurs. I loved how they outlined their own leadership styles, which reminded me of Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. One doesn't have to be masculine to be a successful leader. Women have other traits that can also help them- empathy and the ability to nurture. They continually emphasised on two aspects of running a successful startup - relationships and execution - which is something I haven't come across in other books that I've read on entrepreneurs. Mostly the focus is on execution and relationships seem to take a bit of a backseat, but this book discusses how success of a company is even more rewarding when shared with others. Highly recommend it to anyone looking for books on entrepreneurs and successful startups!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I began this book not knowing anything about Gilt Groupe. I was amazed that a book about a tech start up could be so interesting and engaging! I'm not going to join Gilt, as I don't really need another tempting place to spend money, but I can appreciate what they do. My favorite aspect of the book was the discussions of marketing and creating buzz; these women are amazing. Also at networking- I admire them for putting themselves out there time and time again. I'm glad there are people as driven I began this book not knowing anything about Gilt Groupe. I was amazed that a book about a tech start up could be so interesting and engaging! I'm not going to join Gilt, as I don't really need another tempting place to spend money, but I can appreciate what they do. My favorite aspect of the book was the discussions of marketing and creating buzz; these women are amazing. Also at networking- I admire them for putting themselves out there time and time again. I'm glad there are people as driven as them in the world- they make things very interesting!

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neelam Babul

    I was intrigued to read about the story of two women who started their own business and for the first few chapters I was really engrossed into the story. However, I still felt that this book is written for those who have had the opportunity to pursue an education at Harvard and work for prestigious and well known businesses such as eBay. The best part of this book was the bullet point summaries of advice for starting/maintaining a business. The questions they invited the readers to ask themselve I was intrigued to read about the story of two women who started their own business and for the first few chapters I was really engrossed into the story. However, I still felt that this book is written for those who have had the opportunity to pursue an education at Harvard and work for prestigious and well known businesses such as eBay. The best part of this book was the bullet point summaries of advice for starting/maintaining a business. The questions they invited the readers to ask themselves were really thought provoking and I feel like I really learned from Alexis & Alexandra about the business world and the tech start-up world. I also liked this book because I was inspired to hear the story of two driven, passionate women who started a wildly successful business without sacrificing their femininitiy or the close friendship. I'm not into fashion or brands a lot so the designer name dropping didn't impress me nor did it reasonate with me much. I also wish they had given more details about their challenges and failures. I don't believe that the process was always as rosy and as fun as they seemed to say. The book mentions that there were challenges but in no further detail than that. I am sure they faced numerous challenges but hesitated or decided to leave that bit out from the book. For a reader, it felt like they went from the bottom to the top with hardly a tumble or setback, which is not an accurate description of one's journey. Life is seldom about just the highs. Everyone faces a low at one point. Overall, I enjoyed it as an inspiring business book but I wish the ladies would have given me the whole story.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Cooper

    Overall, the stories Alexis and Alexandra share about the start-up and long days of getting Gilt Groupe to be what it is today is an interesting read. I almost didn't go further than page 30 as the love fest of the two A's (Alexis and Alexandra) goes on and on.....how great they are, how fascinating they are and blah blah blah until the reader almost becomes physically ill with all the self grandiose. Fortunately it turns towards that start-up of Gilt. As a long-time customer, I was interested in Overall, the stories Alexis and Alexandra share about the start-up and long days of getting Gilt Groupe to be what it is today is an interesting read. I almost didn't go further than page 30 as the love fest of the two A's (Alexis and Alexandra) goes on and on.....how great they are, how fascinating they are and blah blah blah until the reader almost becomes physically ill with all the self grandiose. Fortunately it turns towards that start-up of Gilt. As a long-time customer, I was interested in how the company came about and how they got all those amazing deals. For someone looking to start their own business, there were strong antidotes from the importance of brand name (p.56), how to build your base group and then how to grow beyond this base, which they called seeding your local ecosystems (p. 128-140), to the importance of ensuring your potential employees are a good fit for your company's culture (p. 153). A solid read! And after finishing the book, I'm a more loyal fan of Gilt Groupe.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jean Boudillon

    Great book, great story, you will learn a lot! What a great book and a great story! You will certainly learn a lot in this easily read account of the making of the Gilt Groupe. Perfect idea and perfect execution by a dream team. The only down side of this book is that it's hard to relate with the founders, not because they are female Americans but because they all have already stellar backgrounds, Harvard MBA almuni, investment banking, ebay, and that their business model is perfect from the get- Great book, great story, you will learn a lot! What a great book and a great story! You will certainly learn a lot in this easily read account of the making of the Gilt Groupe. Perfect idea and perfect execution by a dream team. The only down side of this book is that it's hard to relate with the founders, not because they are female Americans but because they all have already stellar backgrounds, Harvard MBA almuni, investment banking, ebay, and that their business model is perfect from the get-go. But anyway, you will learn things and it's never about your idea or what you've done in the past, it's about what you can do now!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Steph

    Interesting read, however, the concept of inviting 2000 contacts to join an online sales event is so far outside of my wheelhouse. I do not know, nor care to know, that many people. The determination and drive of two women to create such a successful business is very inspiring regardless.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    Hilarious!!!! Thus is nit the book I read!!! I read By Invitation Only by D B Frank!!!! Been putting progress reading for the wrong book. The one I read was great. Entertaining and just a fun read

  13. 4 out of 5

    Eustacia Tan

    I wonder if you've heard of Gilt Groupe? The first time I heard of it was because it was a pre-installed app on my phone (and I can't get rid of it). But I am always interested in the stories of how businesses succeed. And this book is way more than just a story. Apart from being just a story, By Invitation Only aims to put "forth our story with the goal of offering concrete suggestions on how to handle some of the challenges that lie ahead". And yes, the book does fulfill that promise. First, the I wonder if you've heard of Gilt Groupe? The first time I heard of it was because it was a pre-installed app on my phone (and I can't get rid of it). But I am always interested in the stories of how businesses succeed. And this book is way more than just a story. Apart from being just a story, By Invitation Only aims to put "forth our story with the goal of offering concrete suggestions on how to handle some of the challenges that lie ahead". And yes, the book does fulfill that promise. First, the story aspect. The story of Gilt Groupe is really exciting. I'm not a fashion-girl, so these ideas would never agree to me. But the friendship of the A's and the whole start-up team made me support this company (alas, I don't have the money to financially support it). It also presents a candid look at how a start-up works, and how it changes as it gets bigger and starts earning money. The prose was very readable and the story was compelling. Next, the advise part. One very useful thing is that after milestones, the book provides Checklists that help solidify the lessons learnt. I know some people will be able to gather these lessons just by reading the stories, but for the slightly obtuse like me, the checklists are very helpful. And of course, woven into the narrative itself are bits and pieces of good advice. It didn't interrupt the flow of the re-count at all. I really do wish that my textbooks were all like this. It's way more interesting to learn from a story (that also explicitly tells you what you're supposed to know) than to keep reading the same dry theories. Although admittedly, my Business and Management textbook is pretty interesting. Disclaimer: I got this book free from NetGalley in exchange for a free and honest review. First posted at Inside the mind of a Bibliophile

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Haider

    I like the internet. Yes, I do. I've done my share of online shopping. But I've only purchased from Gilt.com once... So when I saw this book on the firstreads giveaway on goodreads it caught my interest. I entered the giveaway and won a copy! The book is by the company's two founders Alexis and Alexandra-- two blondes with Harvard MBAs and a love of designer sample sales. The book tells of the founding of Gilt and its days as a successful startup in 2007 through current day. Overall I found the b I like the internet. Yes, I do. I've done my share of online shopping. But I've only purchased from Gilt.com once... So when I saw this book on the firstreads giveaway on goodreads it caught my interest. I entered the giveaway and won a copy! The book is by the company's two founders Alexis and Alexandra-- two blondes with Harvard MBAs and a love of designer sample sales. The book tells of the founding of Gilt and its days as a successful startup in 2007 through current day. Overall I found the book interesting though at times it read a little weird since some paragraphs were written in 3rd person and then the next would be in 1st person plural. I guess that can happen when the book has two authors. I just wonder if it could've been written in a way that does read so awkwardly at times. Maybe I just read too much and am being nitpicky. Sprinkled throughout the book were tips on how to successfully run and manage a business. I give this book 3.5 stars. I found it interesting from a fashion perspecitive and from a web start up tale perspective. While the book did offer some tips on running a business, I wouldn't classify it as a in depth business case study or a guide on how to be successful in business. I recommend it to fashonitas and wanna-be fashonistas who have an interest in tales of business success.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrienne

    I was very interested in reading this book not just because of the shopping life (designer everything!) but because I was curious how one becomes an entrepreneur (women especially). I enjoyed reading about the last-minute deals, the unexpected sales, the nerve-wracking meet ups with celeb designers etc. the stories were electrifying, but not so much the personal lives of the authors themselves. Sure, the authors pepper the books with some tips on how to start a business and how to be successful, I was very interested in reading this book not just because of the shopping life (designer everything!) but because I was curious how one becomes an entrepreneur (women especially). I enjoyed reading about the last-minute deals, the unexpected sales, the nerve-wracking meet ups with celeb designers etc. the stories were electrifying, but not so much the personal lives of the authors themselves. Sure, the authors pepper the books with some tips on how to start a business and how to be successful, but they felt more like fillers to me. The meaty parts were all about the company and the successes it achieved. I was curious about the obsession and the novelty of being in the know, but I guess with the recent economic situation, the stories became entertaining only as a fairy tale could--somewhere detached from one's reality and one's wallet.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Deidre

    The saga of the two As, the blonde co-founders of Gilt Groupe, the popular private sale site. The pair, who attended Harvard Business School together have charmed lives but are also very hard workers. Together with a small team they created a site that has become one of the leaders in the growing flash sale industry. The book chronicles their fast rise and is written in a co-narrated style that has the voice switching, often mid-paragraph. The book is at its most successful when the women descri The saga of the two As, the blonde co-founders of Gilt Groupe, the popular private sale site. The pair, who attended Harvard Business School together have charmed lives but are also very hard workers. Together with a small team they created a site that has become one of the leaders in the growing flash sale industry. The book chronicles their fast rise and is written in a co-narrated style that has the voice switching, often mid-paragraph. The book is at its most successful when the women describe the specific steps they took in founding and growing the business as well. It's not the most well-written book but it's full of inspiring words for other young women looking to start a business. Full review over on Pursuitist http://pursuitist.com/style/gilt-grou...

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    At first, it's annoying to read about the authors' privileged backgrounds. Honestly, the first few chapters were maybe unnecessary- we get it- you are well-educated, hard-working and smart. This book gets much more interesting when we read about how Alexis and Alexandra team up with Kevin Ryan to act on what became Gilt. I really like how the book then after chronologically and thematically traces the evolution of this start-up. We learn that a start-up isn't about just a business plan but also, At first, it's annoying to read about the authors' privileged backgrounds. Honestly, the first few chapters were maybe unnecessary- we get it- you are well-educated, hard-working and smart. This book gets much more interesting when we read about how Alexis and Alexandra team up with Kevin Ryan to act on what became Gilt. I really like how the book then after chronologically and thematically traces the evolution of this start-up. We learn that a start-up isn't about just a business plan but also, embarking on this is also about identifying personal strengths and convictions. I enjoyed how this is more than just a book about formal business processes and plans but also points out key traits and values to contemplate upholding as a start-up business leader.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Rosella LaFevre

    This is another great book for those interested in the business of the fashion world. Maybank and Wilkis Wilson met as peers in Harvard Business School's MBA program. They, together with three others (Kevin Ryan, Mike Bryzek and Phong Nguyen), launched Gilt in 2007. The site offers great deals on designer clothes and is now worth more than $1 billion. In By Invitation Only, Maybank and Wilkis Wilson share how they launched and achieved massive success, and their tips on how you can learn from th This is another great book for those interested in the business of the fashion world. Maybank and Wilkis Wilson met as peers in Harvard Business School's MBA program. They, together with three others (Kevin Ryan, Mike Bryzek and Phong Nguyen), launched Gilt in 2007. The site offers great deals on designer clothes and is now worth more than $1 billion. In By Invitation Only, Maybank and Wilkis Wilson share how they launched and achieved massive success, and their tips on how you can learn from their experience. Want my recommendations for four other books you might like if you like this or #GIRLBOSS? Check here: http://www.rosellalafevre.com/biz-boo...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Leena

    I wanted to read the book because I enjoy reading company histories and also because I shop on Gilt. While I liked the book, I didn’t like it as much as other company histories that I have read. The book gives some good tips and points on how to succeed in business, not just a start up. The story itself is interesting but seemed like it kept going back and forth. It was a little hard to follow at times when it did that. Also it seemed to repeat itself sometimes. I would read a passage and think I wanted to read the book because I enjoy reading company histories and also because I shop on Gilt. While I liked the book, I didn’t like it as much as other company histories that I have read. The book gives some good tips and points on how to succeed in business, not just a start up. The story itself is interesting but seemed like it kept going back and forth. It was a little hard to follow at times when it did that. Also it seemed to repeat itself sometimes. I would read a passage and think – didn’t they already say that once or twice before in previous chapters? All in all, an interesting book if you are a Gilt fan.

  20. 5 out of 5

    DeLonzo

    Clearly pedigree gave Alexis and Alexandra a leg up, but I couldn't knock their hustle. The timing of Gilt Groupe's launch couldn't have been better- before the boom of fashion e-commerce and right before the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which changed the game for designers and retailers. There was interesting insight about starting a business, building a winning team, and finding investors, but nothing surprising or out of the box. I did find it a bit annoying when the story went back and f Clearly pedigree gave Alexis and Alexandra a leg up, but I couldn't knock their hustle. The timing of Gilt Groupe's launch couldn't have been better- before the boom of fashion e-commerce and right before the fall of Lehman Brothers in 2008, which changed the game for designers and retailers. There was interesting insight about starting a business, building a winning team, and finding investors, but nothing surprising or out of the box. I did find it a bit annoying when the story went back and forth between third and first person. All in all, it was fascinating to learn about Gilt's evolution.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Venus Kennedy

    I enjoyed this book. I think it got off to a rocky start - their writing style requires a little getting used to. But I LOVE Gilt - and it was a lot of fun to learn how they got their start and the decisions they made each step of the way to be the powerhouse they are today. Its an interesting read, and part biography and part "how to start a business" advice. Recommend it to my fashionista / business loving friends! I enjoyed this book. I think it got off to a rocky start - their writing style requires a little getting used to. But I LOVE Gilt - and it was a lot of fun to learn how they got their start and the decisions they made each step of the way to be the powerhouse they are today. Its an interesting read, and part biography and part "how to start a business" advice. Recommend it to my fashionista / business loving friends!

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    I love the Gilt concept and am a big fan, so I had to read this when I heard it came out. Although the authors, and co-founders of Gilt sometimes went off on odd tangents and were full of self flattery, the actual story of how the business launched and became so successful (valued at nearly $1B!) was fascinating. A true story of two fabulous, fashionable, remarkably well connected, brilliant women! They changed the way many of us now shop...on the flash sale sites!

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shermika

    By Invitation Only… is a great read for anyone interested in business–especially women. It offers helpful tips such as how to find the right partner for your business, how to ensure you’re getting in business for the right reasons and so on YOU MAY FIND THE REST OF MY REVIEW HERE: http://artblt.com/2012/06/20/book-rev... By Invitation Only… is a great read for anyone interested in business–especially women. It offers helpful tips such as how to find the right partner for your business, how to ensure you’re getting in business for the right reasons and so on YOU MAY FIND THE REST OF MY REVIEW HERE: http://artblt.com/2012/06/20/book-rev...

  24. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I checked this out of the library for a little research and found myself completely engulfed. Tagging every page and dying to take notes in the margins. This is a must buy as I know I will refer to specific sections on a regular basis. I have found new role models in these women, especially Alexandra, who spoke volumes to me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Kristen

    I thought this book shed light on how great teams are able to create & execute great new ideas. The trust each teammate had in one another was so critical to their success. Being egoless, open to criticism, quick to adapt, interested in innovation, and truly transparent seem to be key components to brilliant leadership. This book was very inspiring.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Nick

    Alexis and Alexandra have documented their amazing story of how they turned the world of high fashion upside down and brought it into reach for thousands of shoppers who would never otherwise make it to the exclusive sales in NYC. It's good fun and an impressive tale of great creativity, smart thinking, and a lot of hard work. Alexis and Alexandra have documented their amazing story of how they turned the world of high fashion upside down and brought it into reach for thousands of shoppers who would never otherwise make it to the exclusive sales in NYC. It's good fun and an impressive tale of great creativity, smart thinking, and a lot of hard work.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kristal Cooper

    I think I would have enjoyed this book more if I knew ANYthing about the movers and shakers in the fashion industry. Still, I thought it was a very interesting case study of the planning, hard work, and luck that goes into a successful start-up.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    This book was SO fascinating! I work in the e-commerce industry so it was even more interesting for me, but I think it's an incredibly motivating and inspiring book and very relevant to our generation. This book was SO fascinating! I work in the e-commerce industry so it was even more interesting for me, but I think it's an incredibly motivating and inspiring book and very relevant to our generation.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barb Wiseberg

    Loved it - a daily deal fairy tale! From inception to the future, the story unfolds step by step, and I loved hearing about the ins and outs of this great flash sales site. a must read for anyone working in the daily deal arena.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Milele

    This is a fairy tale and a business book all in one! Our new princesses, Alexis and Alexandra, can start a business, continue it through hypergrowth, work in fashion, be fashionable, fly around the world and still be BFFs. Very readable and likeable, not sure how applicable or general.

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