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The MouseDriver Chronicles Hardcover – January 8, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 120 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Basic Books; 1st edition (January 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738205737
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738205731
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (120 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #966,664 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brett A. Hurt on January 12, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I am a lifelong student of leadership and the Chairman of Coremetrics, a San Francisco-based company that I started almost three years ago. As a reader of dozens of books on leadership, I simply could not put this book down.
I graduated from Wharton with Kyle and John and know them well. But don't let that fact discount my review. The closest books to "The MouseDriver Chronicles" are "Startup", by Jerry Kaplan; "The Monk and the Riddle", by Randy Komisar; and "Burn Rate", by Michael Wolff. All three of these books are insightful reads, but if you only have time to read one book on entrepreneurship, "The MouseDriver Chronicles" is your best bet.
"Startup" isn't as personal and the key insight is that market timing is critical. "Burn Rate" is as personal and funny, but the key insight is that Michael Wolff isn't cut out to be an entrepreneur (and, worse, he doesn't realize it - if you read it, you'll understand what I mean). And "The Monk and the Riddle" is too fictitious, "dot comish", and "on the surface".
"The MouseDriver Chronicles" is the first book I have ever read that gives a truly open and honest view about what real entrepreneurship is about. Kyle and John started MouseDriver from ground zero with the right attitude. As lifelong students of leadership, Kyle and John provide the reader with valuable insights. "The MouseDriver Chronicles" is a personal tale that will remind you of a fireside conversation with friends. Often funny, often serious, and always real. Whether you aspire to be an entrepreneur or just want to read about what it's like, this is a great read.
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Format: Hardcover
A real-life account of two young smart entrepreneurs with sterling educational credentials (MBAs from the Wharton School of Business) who start a business in an industry that they know nothing about. It's a tale told with insight, pace, and self-deprecating humor that will teach you a lot of lessons about being a small-business entrepreneur. After an era in which everybody focused on VC-funded companies seeking to dominate multi-billion dollar markets, it's refreshing to read a story that reminds you about the boostrap process of the great majority of American businesses. As a former small-business founder myself, many of their lessons and observations hit home with me, and I think this book represents a great education in the perils and pitfalls of taking a business idea from concept to fruition. Whether you are considering starting a business yourself or just enjoy reading a well-written story that will make you laugh, I'd rate The Mousedriver Chronicles as a must-read!
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Format: Paperback
The Mousedriver Chronicles is the story of 2 Wharton MBA's who take a business plan developed on their entrepreneurship course at Wharton and decide to make a go of it. In 1999 they turn away high paying jobs at investment banks and over funded dot.com startups to go it alone.

Their idea: to make and sell a computer mouse that looks like the head of a golf driver.

They fund the venture themselves, find a manufacturer in Hong Kong, move to San Francisco (to be part of all the start up vibe in The Bay area) and run the business from the kitchen of their rented flat.

Their story is brilliantly relayed as they grapple with manufacturing, marketing and distribution hassles. The single product focus of their new company, named Platinum Concepts Inc., makes for a wonderful entrepreneurial story with excellent lessons about what it takes to succeed as a self funded start up. The two founders quickly learn that they need more than the theoretical knowledge acquired on their MBA at Wharton; they need to be street wise. They experiment with different mechanisms to make things happen and end up categorizing their execution strategies as follows:

Plan A: Make use of their business school network and contacts

Plan B: Hit the streets and the shops to find a creative solution

Plan C: Work the Yellow Pages

More often than not, plan B and C worked far better than plan A.

One of the founders, John Lusk, began sharing their entrepreneurial adventure with friends and family via a monthly email called "The Insider". The Insider was a real, often humorous, sometimes highly insightful newsletter about their adventure. The insider subscriber list grew and grew. MBA lecturers began distributing The Insider as prescribed reading.
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Format: Hardcover
I saw "The MouseDriver Chronicles" in several bookstores, and passed because it sounded like it would be yet another story of dot-com failure. But finally I decided it looked like a "fun read" and bought it, and I'm glad I did.
I'm adding "The MouseDriver Chronicles" as my number-two title (after "Dot.Bomb," by by J. David Kuo) on my "must read" book list for entrepreneurs.
"Dot.Bomb" was more fun to read, in part because it was about a dot-com company that crashed and burned, and it's always more fun to write about failure than success.
Though "The MouseDriver Chronicles" isn't quite as fun to read, it is more useful for potential entrepreneurs. The book recounts many logistical and planning issues, in an exceptionally well-written style, using straighforward language and sharing more details (business and personal) than I'd expected (though the details seem to fade in the later chapters, presumably to protect the trade secrets of the continuing company).
Most important, "The MouseDriver Chronicles" is not about a crash-and-burn dot-com failure.
It's about a modestly successful startup whose mission was to build a product and sell it at a profit, a concept that seemed almost obscene when Lusk and Harrison launched their business in mid-1999. In January 2002, that concept (build a product and sell it at a profit) sounds much better, making the book more timely. Even if there are fewer entrepreneurs this year, they all should profit from reading "The MouseDriver Chronicles."
The authors especially deserve credit for admitting how "ignorant" they were (in many respects) when they received their MBA degrees from Wharton, even after earlier careers working for consulting firms.
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