A Young Man Of The Times

Nate Lustig is the prototype of the successful  young entrepreneur. His generation of  risk-takers is building the new Madison economy. I explain in an Isthmus column:

Lustig followed the familiar template of tech innovators. Even as a kid, he challenged convention.

By his own admission, Lustig was “a terror” in school. Hated homework. Rushed through his assignments. Refused to keep a work notebook. His parents, both lawyers, cut him slack…as long as he stayed on track to get into UW-Madison.

Lustig found his groove refereeing soccer. He says he became an independent contractor at 12 — booking games at his own choosing, biking to parks and making $15 or $20 per outing. He learned a lesson his very first game when a coach started swearing at him.

“I was the one with the whistle,” he says, which pretty much defines his outlook on life. “I got used to making money and not having a boss. I was running my own show.”

At UW-Madison, Lustig became expert at scoring football tickets. He’d charge a small fee for his friends and a larger fee for strangers. That led him to buy a rudimentary ticket website from a graduating senior. He and partners turned it into a seven-campus ticket marketplace that they sold “for the high six figures.” Entrustet [a company that devises digital wills] became his next project.

School was a drag. Lustig wound up a political science major on the five-year plan because he hated — that’s his word — business school classes. They “offered nothing that helped me as an entrepreneur,” he says. They were geared, instead, to advancing students whose ambitions were to land high-paying jobs in corporate America.

“They were very cutthroat because they needed a high rank in their class,” he says. Lustig, on the other hand, wanted to launch his own business, and he had that IT instinct for collaboration and reaching out to colleagues.

He was, in short, a catalyst. A guy who makes things happen.

“What Nate says, he does,” notes Joe Boucher, his lawyer and mentor.

“He’s very resourceful in bringing people together,” says Forrest Woolworth, cofounder of the PerBlue mobile gaming operation.

But Lustig, who remains a Madison booster, has moved to Chile to work.

Here’s the money question: Will he return home to do business?

To read more, please go here.

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