So guess what, it turns out that "business thriller" is not an oxymoron! The Big Disrupter is an innovative and fast paced thriller that brings you inside the world of social entrepreneurs and their quest to build their business while doing some good in the world. The book centers around a competition with a one billion-dollar prize
going to the company that has the greatest positive impact to the world. I confess that I forgot exactly how this contest is judged or how the do-gooding is measured, but I don't think that is terribly important. Needless to say, this prize has teeth, and not surprisingly, it draws out some tough competition including some characters who don't play by the rules.
In-it-to-win-it is Lionel Lane and his Double Vision beverage company which has a Tom's style one-for-one program, donating meals for each drink sold. I have a personal distaste for fancy parties disguised as "charitable events" which makes main character Lionel Lane quite endearing. Not only does he put his money where is mouth is, but also his blood, sweat and tears. There's one teensy problem, DV isn't doing so well and needs a energy drink-like jolt in the arm to survive and grow. In a venture capitalist driven power move, Lionel is virtually handcuffed with Maxine Gold as co-CEOs of Double Vision, and they have 6 months to turn things around, aiming to win the BD. Maxine is the ying to Lionel's yang, but every bit as hard working and driven as Lionel. As with any good buddy based quest, Maxine and Lionel have some history and a bit of tension between them.
Ok, so you get the setup. Of course, things are never as simple as executing on a well thought out business plan, which is what keeps things going. The energy drink theme was refreshing and provided ample opportunity to introduce an nice mix of side characters and settings including an extreme skier, a wolfdog, an investigative reporter, police detective, a beverage mix-master, a struggling VC, an ex-Navy SEAL to name a few. There are good guys and bad guys, and you don't always know which is which. I would also like to send kudos to the author for not slut-shaming Reddi for an assault that happened after a drinking binge.
So how was it? Darn good, especially for a first time author (at least of fiction, no doubt this author has written business plans, marking materials and sales pitches). As I mentioned earlier, it is fast paced and a real page turner. The chapters are just the right length and there are several plot bunnies happening at once, and he does a great job of keeping them all going.