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By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop [Paperback]

Alexis Maybank , Alexandra Wilkis Wilson
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

26 Sep 2013

Gilt, currently valued at more than $1 billion, was launched by Alexis Maybank, Alexandra Wilkis Wilson, and three colleagues in 2007. It is one of the most fascinating startups of recent years. And it all began with one bold idea: to bring sample sales online and change the way millions shop.

As they write about the day went live: "We had created a Web site that could potentially change the rules of retail...If shopping was traditionally a slow, leisurely would now be competitive, addictive, urgent, thrilling...not just easier, but so much more fun."

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. And they take us through the darkest moments of the recession when Gilt might easily have died.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Portfolio Penguin (26 Sep 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591846269
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591846260
  • Product Dimensions: 21.8 x 14.5 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 386,166 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Authors

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Product Description


"First, Gilt Groupe's cofounders changed the way we shop by recreating the excitement of a sample sale online. Now they've let us in on their innovative creative process. Anyone who hopes to understand the world of tech entrepreneurship--or upend it--would be wise to read it."--Arianna Huffington "There's no garage in this entrepreneurial thriller--the adventure starts with a sample sale."--Dan Heath, coauthor of "Switch "and "Made to Stick
""Alexis and Alexandra have created something original and amazing, and they did it in the simplest way possible. They found something they loved, and they figured out how to bring it to the massive amount of people they knew would love it too."--Mark Cuban, serial entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks
""By Invitation Only" is a must read for aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators who will be inspired by their journey and how passion, purpose and partnership fueled a revolution in shopping!"--Mindy Grossman, CEO of HSN, Inc "An exciting story about an exciting start-up. Alexis and Alexandra saw a fantastic opportunity in the luxury space and took it."--Tony Hsieh, bestselling author of "Delivering Happiness, CEO of"

About the Author

Alexis Maybank and Alexandra Wilkis Wilson cofounded Gilt Groupe with Kevin Ryan, Mike Bryzek, and Phong Nguyen. Both have BAs from Harvard College and MBAs from Harvard Business School. They live in Manhattan with their husbands and children.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
By Jana
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I admire their hard work and everything which went into it, but I was probably looking more into HOW it happend. It seems to me they are talking baout how great they are ( which they are) but it didn't inspire me in a way I was hoping to.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read 15 Aug 2013
By Mike
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Excellent read, just about to set up a new company and it really inspired me to think outside the box.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.2 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting, but Shallow 6 Jun 2012
By Loyd E. Eskildson - Published on
Authors Maybank and Wilson launched their business, online luxury sample sales, in 2007. It was good timing - sales of luxury items were doing well at the time. Participants had to first become members before viewing the goods, and the site was password-protected. The purpose of these requirements was to keep Google from listing their goods, allowing participating vendors to maintain their high-end positioning. In 3.5 years their company was valued by investors at $1 billion. Today it has 900 employees, hosts 22+ sales/day (up from 2-3/week originally), and has over 5 million members. The authors believe that the keys to their success are 'relationships' (they get along well) and 'execution.'

The idea came from a French Website called private sale that used temporary online flash sales lasting 4 - 5 days to liquidate large volumes for mostly mass-market retailers at highly discounted prices.

While their general approach to getting started was interesting, far too much of of the book is taken up with frivolous details.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Kind of Boring 7 Feb 2014
By Katie David - Published on
Verified Purchase
If you've been reading books like Basic Black and Lean In, this book follows suit with lists of achievements, accomplishments, and life connections.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great story about the rise of such a fascinating company 6 May 2013
By RosannaPR - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I love reading success stories and I have always admired the amazing success that is Gilt. I was curious to see how these two young women and friends were able to break through in the very competitive world of e-commerce and fashion. The story of their rise to the top was engaging and entertaining, where the right idea was executed by the right team at the right time. They wove in business, leadership and entrepreneurial guidelines and checklists throughout their tale.

It's an inspiring read for entrepreneurs and a reminder that this type of success requires a tremendous amount of hustle, persistence, risk taking and passion. The authors, who both displayed strong work ethics from a young age, frequently talked about all nighters, constant travel and working to the point of exhaustion, but also emphasized their absolute love for high fashion and sample sales.

I appreciated this book more for the story behind Gilt than its business insights, and overall thoroughly enjoyed getting to know a bit more about these two remarkable women.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! 4 Jan 2013
By CdMCOley - Published on
I recommend this book to anybody looking to start a business. It was a great example of how passion, team work and dedication can create something huge. As a young entrepreneur myself I definitely have two new role models.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By Invitation only: how we built gilt and changed the way millions shop 25 April 2012
By JKL - Published on
I received my copy at the end of last week and have thoroughly enjoyed reading this entertaining and substantive book. It will make an excellent graduation gift! Maybank and Wilsons' qualities of intelligence, integrity, creativity and thoughtful preparation along with honest self awareness and confidence are applicable to future success in many fields, not only fashion. Their personal story of building their own business is inspiring to anyone with a dream and an entrepreneural spirit.
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