Apollo Plectic will never get skin cancer. He’s been pale his whole life. He’s an indoor kind of guy. He fiddled with things in his parents’ garage since he was 5; he chose toy computers over riding bikes with the neighbor kids. He was… different. Socially awkward. Kind of strange. And he didn’t mind that status a bit. Very Big Bang Theory.
So when it came to making intellectual leaps, betting on new things, trying things that nobody had yet tried before, the process felt natural. Over a decade of trying… (yes, from age 5 to 15) he had developed a pattern recognition system that was vastly sophisticated for his age. He was able to figure out what experiment would work and what would fail within 5 minutes’ worth of trying. The speed of analysis that he had developed enabled him to fail often – and cheaply. That combination was golden in the Silicon Valley where he was reared.
By age 17 he had built a small iPhone application that he sold for $350,000 to Google. He paid taxes and a few expenses he’d incurred along the way and had earned enough to pay fully for college at Stanford. But he didn’t have to – he had won several academic achievement scholarships and his degree – which took him only 3 years to finish – cost him little.
Along the way, he met a bunch of smart classmates and bonded in particular with one individual. The two of them ended up partnering to begin his new Big Idea:
The concept originated because of his wild neighbor having been grounded after her last party… His bedroom window overlooked hers. On her 16th birthday, she flashed him. It was the most social activity he’d had his entire life. So the imagery and the… need for his new product reached him deeply.
Specifically this software attaches (silently) to parents’ phones (cleverly, it requires that the phone be the bill-paying one), and then tracks it. The system makes the phone publish back to the web cloud its GPS coordinates, which are then translated and mapped to Facebook and other pages so that kids can track their parents’ every move, like stalkers.
However, the product is cleverly titled, “DoYouKnowWhereYourKidsAre?” – and there is reciprocity. Only there is a fairly easy toggle switch to turn it off. (ACLU got huffy early.) However, most parents don’t know how to turn off … things. So kids have privacy; parents don’t. And kids are actually ENCOURAGING mom and dad to buy it.
The mojo is so strong that they have sold a million units at ten bucks each with a ten buck a year renewal fee. Their world is turning into a real business.
They hadn’t raised outside capital from venture capitalists because Apollo had made that small win in the app he sold to Google. But now with $10 million in revenues on their docks, they were being bombarded by venture capitalists all wanting to invest big money in them and their company.
So after coding from 9 to noon with 11 separate product tweaks and enhancements they were both trying to get out the door, Apollo “took lunch” with a venture guy.
Fancy lunch. Lots of ego stroking. The VC pounded his chest a bit about how great the deals were that he had done and all the great people he knew who would be at the beck and call of Apollo and the gang. Apollo felt jaded – it was the 20th meeting like this that he’d taken and he was starting to feel like all of these people were clones of one another; they all seemed to say more or less the same thing.
Lunch luckily ended in 18 hours (er, one) and Apollo went back to the office where a distribution executive from Yahoo was waiting in the hallway. Yahoo wanted to find a way to “do something special” with doyouknowhereyourparentsare in hopes of making it look like a young-appealing, youth-skewing company again. Apollo sat in his office and just asked, “So what do you want with us?”
The Yahoo exec stared somewhat blankly, not really knowing what to say. He mumbled a few jumbles about a billion page views this and a hundred million page click-throughs that. Apollo nodded blankly. “Yet another hour of my life I’ll never get back.” He craved a business development exec to handle these “strategic” (meaning no money) meetings.
Apollo spent the next hour sifting through data that had come in from the computer servers on which he was billing, metering, measuring and diagnosing his customers, whether they knew it or not. He clearly needed to buy more of keyword: “mom dad grounded me” on Google as that phrase was distributing a ton of traffic to his home page.
The next hour was spent dealing with complaint letters – a few from parents who discovered they were being tracked (he had a form letter that was a polite “then don't do it to your kids” note which he copied and pasted) and then a few complaining about the technology. Those letters he took very seriously, and for each complaint tried to replicate the bug. When he could, he sent the complainer a free t-shirt and a personal thank you. Sometimes he offered them a job as a QA (quality assurance) tester.
There was no bedtime in this gig. No “stop.” The servers ran round the clock, 24/ 7, 365 a year. So Apollo just went to sleep when he was tired. And that wouldn’t be for a few hours. “Big Bang Theory” was running a marathon and he had it on in the background. He wasn’t going to bed until Leonard and Penny finally did it silly.