The MouseDriver Chronicles (Lusk & Harrison)

By , February 2, 2002

Another “Must Read” Book for Entrepreneurs, and a “Good Read” for the Rest of Us

(February 2, 2002) 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. They frankly disclose some embarassing experiences, which should profit wise readers who may experience fewer mistakes as a result.

My main gripe with the book is that it ends before the end. I expected the final chapter to recount the company’s failure, or its sale to a larger company, or some other “exit strategy” that would provide “closure” for the book. Instead, the book’s chronology ends in early 2001, but the company continues even today. Ending the book a year before it reached bookstores (in January 2002) seemed quite unfair (but that is the reality of the book-publishing industry). Fortunately, the web site contains an archive of the author’s “Insider” newsletter updates, so I could read “the rest of the story” (which is still unfolding, since the company is still plodding along).

(February 2, 2002) by Mark J. Welch

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