Editor’s note: We’re happy to publish this excerpt from a short story by Mike Frankel. Enjoy!
Day 37: It’s been over a month since I’ve embarked on this masochistic lifestyle. My eyes are bloodshot, burned deep by my laptop’s searing glow. The floor is littered with streaked coffee cups and half‐smoked cigarettes. A late rent notice is buried somewhere under the mess, along with other forgotten responsibilities. My hoodie and jeans uniform has grown roots to my skin, and I have completely abandoned proper hygiene.
Let me explain how I’ve transformed into such a creature. I was fired a few weeks ago from my IT job. I worked at a law firm, helping inept attorneys open their emails and print documents. My spotty attendance was the problem – apparently you have to show up every day when you’re working with people who wear suits. Honestly, I was quite relieved by the axe. It was an opportunity to do what every unemployed programmer does: burrow in a dark corner and build an iPhone app.
The first ten days were full of distractions. On day 11, I blocked Reddit and Facebook from my browser, instantly tripling my productivity. Since then, I’ve wired in, spending day and night filling my computer screen with lines of code. The unanswered calls, texts, and emails have accumulated. My minimal costs (cheap server space, over‐priced caffeine) have been funded by unemployment checks, and I’ve done everything myself – the algorithms, the user experience, and the marketing strategy. Forget lean. This is an anorexic startup.
So here I am, 37 days in. Today was dedicated to tweaking. After squashing a pesky bug in the image‐mapping code, my app is fully functional, and looks decent enough for Apple’s App Store. There’s definitely room for improvement, but I’ll be 100 percent broke in three weeks, and should probably find a job at this point. I’m tired and delirious. This thing just needs to get out of my life. Here, Apple, just take it. Submit. Done.
Mike Frankel is a student at Columbia Business School. When he’s not busy crunching numbers, he runs Melted In Marketing, a digital strategy consulting service. He also runs FreeIndie.Com, a free music website. You can connect with him on Twitter or Facebook. Check out how the story ends at theanorexicstartup.com.