John Lusk and Kyle Harrison seemed slightly out of their minds when, unlike their fellow MBAs, they skipped on flashy, lucrative offers from dot-coms to become entrepreneurs. Specifically, to produce and sell a computer mouse designed to look like a golf-club head (a state-of-the-art titanium driver to be exact). "I wanted to feel the pain of starting a company," Lusk writes in this clear and insightful memoir, "to go into debt, have my ego crushed and experience first-hand the thrill of working like a dog for months without a paycheck." Since he also expected to make a million in two years, it's not surprising that all these come to pass. The duo struggle with the fundamentals of making and selling, run-ins with typhoons, shabby off-shore manufacturing, and soon dot-com envy sets in. But when the dot-coms start going belly-up, this little-retail-product-company-that-could shows that the basics of business still apply--a handy lesson for those wondering what happened after the dot-com crash, as well as any would-be entrepreneurs wanting to make a go of it. --Lesley Reed
From Publishers Weekly
In this unconventional memoir, Wharton graduates Lusk and Harrison (actually, just Lusk; Harrison contributed only the epilogue) tell how they started a company the old-fashioned way: they had an idea, raised some money, then manufactured and sold their product. That product is the MouseDriver, a computer mouse resembling the head of a golf club. Not exactly an earth-shattering concept, but for Lusk and Harrison the product is almost beside the point. Their intent here is to show how, in an age of venture capitalists and "revolutionary" business models, it's still possible for non-dot-commers to start a company and make a buck. They founded Platinum Concepts Inc. in the summer of 1999 and set up shop in their shared loft in San Francisco, then a hi-tech boomtown. Obstacles in the beginning were legion: the first MouseDrivers were prone to falling apart; a typhoon almost wiped out their Hong Kong manufacturer; and retail inexperience caused them to miss the Christmas rush. But they persevered, and within 18 months had made $600,000 in sales and moved 50,000 units. Not quite GE, but not a failure either. The authors argue that almost anyone can achieve this kind of modest success; it just takes intelligence, determination and a good idea (although an MBA probably doesn't hurt). Though the book is occasionally less than enlightening (a blow-by-blow account of a Sony Playstation session is unlikely to help budding entrepreneurs), on the whole Lusk and Harrison provide solid, entertaining insights into how to start a business. This is a refreshing alternative to the recent wave of narcissistic dot-com memoirs. (Jan.)Forecast: The authors were the subject of a cover story in Inc. magazine in February, and have been covered widely in golf magazines. That, and a splashy jacket, may help buyers pick up their book. It will mainly appeal to ambitious young entrepreneurs especially those who've had it with the dot-com life.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.