Lusk, John 1969(?)-
LUSK, John 1969(?)-
PERSONAL: Born c. 1969, in TX. Education: Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, M.B.A., 1999. Hobbies and other interests: Golf.
CAREER: Ernst & Young Information Technology Group, Senior Consultant; Platinum Concepts, Inc., San Francisco, CA, cofounder, 1999—. Speaker at business schools and conferences on entrepreneurship and start-ups.
The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs, epilogue by Kyle Harrison, Perseus Publishing (Cambridge, MA), 2002.
Also author, with Kyle Harrison, of bimonthly e-mail newsletter The MouseDriver Insider, 1999-2002. Contributor of articles to Web sites.
SIDELIGHTS: Even at the height of the dot-com boom of the 1990s, some highly educated young entrepreneurs were willing to take a chance and start old-fashioned consumer-product businesses. John Lusk and Kyle Harrison were the only ones of the 792 1999 M.B.A. graduates of the prestigious Wharton School to take that path, despite lucrative job offers from Internet startups and venture capital firms, and despite their own experience in management consulting. They eventually achieved modest success with their novelty product, the MouseDriver, a computer mouse shaped like the head of a golf club. Blessed with keen insight and communication skills, the two men then parlayed their modest business success into careers as motivational speakers, start-up consultants, and eventually authors.
Faced with the daunting challenges that confront every start-up, and lacking any hands-on experience, Lusk and Harrison started an e-mail newsletter, The MouseDriver Insider, to vent their emotions, share their experiences and seek advice and support. Mike Hofman later wrote in Inc. that the biweekly newsletter, "filled with observations that are profoundly mundane," quickly attracted a small but elite following among venture capital and investment banking firms, and became assigned reading in a few business schools.
The newsletter attracted enough attention to win its creators a cover story in Inc. that, in turn, led to contacts from several literary agents and, eventually, a book offer. The result, The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs, "takes the reader on an exhilarating ride of the development and debut of an original new product," according to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer. A Strategic Finance contributor found it "a very good guide for other bright-eyed entrepreneurs with a good idea and little financing."
The book highlights the authors' sometimes unconventional approach. Lusk told BookPage.com interviewer Stephanie Swilley that they would "walk into a store, pretend like we were looking for gifts, find MouseDriver on the shelves and then scream and shout about how it was such a cool product." Aiming to appeal with self-deprecating humor, the authors contrast the lessons of business school with such realities as typhoons delaying shipment and distributors defaulting on payment. They describe how they were quickly forced to acquire practical skills in design, financing, manufacturing, marketing, sales, and customer relations. They provide both practical tips and emotional support for budding entrepreneurs. In fact, Lusk told Karin Pekarchik in Business Week Online that he would "like to see more emphasis placed on the emotional aspects of entrepreneurship in business school." He explained that the book was designed to help fill that gap, by presenting "a very realistic, honest, and authentic insight into what it's like to go through the entrepreneurial experience—the highs, lows, failures, successes, and emotions associated with it."
Despite inexperience and a series of errors and mishaps, the company eventually managed to break even, earning an annual income of six hundred thousand dollars on sales of fifty thousand units.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, December 15, 2001, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs, p. 693.
Boston Globe, February 10, 2002, D. C. Denison, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. G2.
Business Week, March 25, 2002, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. 14E10.
Inc., February, 2001, Mike Hofman, "An American Start-Up."
Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2001, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. 1536.
Library Journal, February 1, 2002, Norm Hutcherson, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. 111.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, July 21, 2002, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles.
Publishers Weekly, December 3, 2001, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. 51.
Strategic Finance, March, 2002, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. 21.
Texas Business Weekly, February 6, 2002, Tamara Young, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles.
USA Today, January 21, 2002, review of The MouseDriver Chronicles, p. B7.
Business Week Online,http://www.businessweek.com/ (July 11, 2002), Karin Pekarchik, "What Drives the MouseDriver Guys?"
MouseDriver Web site,http://www.mousedriver.com/ (November 22, 2004).*