Kickoff Speech, “Reflections on Starting a Business”
Campbell Dome- 12:15 p.m.- 1:30 p.m.
John Lusk, serial entrepreneur and author of The Mouse Driver Chronicles
John is currently the Founder & CEO of Rivet & Sway, an ecommerce site that is revolutionizing the way women purchase prescription eyewear. Before Rivet & Sway, he served as the CMO of the travel site Yapta.com, and as VP, Marketing at Whitepages, where he was instrumental in leading the company to a Top 50 ComScore traffic ranking. Prior to joining WhitePages, he spent four years at MSFT where he built and led marketing organizations in both the Windows Live and US small and midsize business divisions. A former IT strategy consultant at Ernst & Young, John continues to motivate and educate others on the entrepreneurial experience.
In 1997, he was admitted to The Wharton School where he focused on entrepreneurial marketing and strategic management. While in school, he worked with the Wharton Small Business Development Center, where he provided marketing and financial consulting services to a portfolio of start-up and emerging businesses. Additionally, he structured and taught business planning seminars for more than 100 entrepreneurs and business managers in the Philadelphia area and served as an analyst for a local angel investor group.
While at Wharton, John teamed up with Kyle Harrison to manufacture market and sell MouseDriver, a specialty computer mouse shaped as the head of a driver golf club. Upon graduating in May 1999, the two formed Platinum Concepts, Inc., moved to San Francisco and opened up shop in the kitchen of their 900 square foot apartment. In addition to raising $75K in friends, family and personal funds, John and Kyle financed Platinum Concepts with personal credit cards, at one time incurring $150K in credit card debt. At Platinum Concepts, John was responsible for all aspects of the marketing mix and, during the first year of sales, achieved profitability on revenues of nearly $1MM. He was also instrumental in creating an internationally recognized brand utilizing emotional marketing and product evangelism with a marketing budget of less than $7500.
While John and Kyle struggled to bring their product to market, the two let off steam and sought feedback by writing an e-mail newsletter that chronicled their entrepreneurial journey and every success, issue, failure and emotions along the way. Soon after its debut in September 1999, the MouseDriver Insider gained momentum and began attracting entrepreneurs from all over the country. At its peak, the Insider distribution grew to over 10K subscribers and included entrepreneurs, students, professors, VC’s, bankers, writers, authors, actors and others interested in the entrepreneurial experience. John has been invited to speak at scores of different MBA programs and conferences around the world and is the author of The MouseDriver Chronicles: The True-Life Adventures of Two First-Time Entrepreneurs. The book is now required reading universities and graduate programs around the world and is published in 5 different languages.
Mr. Lusk has appeared in numerous print, television and radio publications including Inc., NPR’s Morning Marketplace, Sky Radio, Business Week, Entrepreneur Magazine and The Wall Street Journal. He has served as a member of the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council and sits on the board of the Schutzman Center for Entrepreneurship at Queens College.
He is a native of Austin, Texas and graduated from Southern Methodist University with a B.B.A in Management Information Sciences. Once a semi-professional soccer player and avid adventure racer, he now resides in Seattle, WA with his wife Rhonda.
Keynote Speech, Wednesday, October 3
LeFrak Concert Hall- 12:15 p.m.- 1:30 p.m.
The Importance of Passion and Risk Taking In Entrepreneurial Success – Ryan Leslie, Record Producer and Entertainer
About Ryan Leslie
Ryan is a Harvard graduate, ASCAP Award winning songwriter, BET/Soul Train Award nominee, and on-line video pioneer. He found an unexpected related passion for social media when faced with the challenge of reaching millions without the help of traditional media outlets like TV & radio. His use of new media and the web has successfully created meaningful and profitable conversations around emerging and established brands (including his own). His experience and accomplishments in this arena have been the topic of articles in New York Magazine, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Men's Health. His insight and story have also been featured by FOX Business, CNBC, and the Wall Street Journal and he's an active lecturer and panelist the subjects of entertainment, technology & brand management.
His Philanthropic Work
At an early age, he began volunteering in Salvation Army sponsored programs – from tutoring youth to traveling as a musical ambassador on missionary service in Asia.
After years of deliberate practice and a run in with good fortune, he finally had a financial breakthrough in terms of what he was able to earn as a musician and entertainer. Cognizant that he and so many others in my field earn outsize rewards for our talents, he began actively mentoring youth from the moment he earned my first $450,000 advance payment in 2003. Rewarded by watching them attain success, he continues to invest in young people around the world and have also thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to work with students at the Clive Davis Institute at NYU.