I want to tell you a true story.
It’s a story that might just make you rich, or might just save you thousands of dollars. And I know we are in the internet marketing space so those kinds of statements get thrown around a lot…
…but this is different. I am deadly serious.
I want you to wipe away that bullshit TL:DR mentality for the next 15 minutes and REALLY read what I am getting ready to share with you. It’s important.
I am going to tell this story in 10 parts.
Have you ever looked at WarriorPlus or a similar network and seen people releasing software, and making tons of cash, seemingly pretty easily? Kind of like this example below?
I know I have.
Now if you noticed this kind of thing and you were trying to make money online, you might think…
“MAN! If I could only make software! That would make things so much easier than these info products that people don’t seem to want to buy as much.”
Software just seems sexier than an info product doesn’t it? Somehow easier to make work in the minds of the customer, right?
Well, you would be right of course.
And then you might think something like…
”Wait, if I can’t create software myself…and I don’t feel like learning how to make it…then I’LL HIRE A PROGRAMMER TO DO IT!!!”
I totally get it. And I think it’s a great idea. You should do it..
I want you to get 2 documents signed before you tell any programmer about your amazing ideas for a piece of software. And neither of them have to do with trust.
Before I tell you about these two documents though, I need to take you back in time for a minute. I want to tell you what happened to me…
See, I had several ideas for software that had been floating around my head for a few years. We are going to focus on one in particular though here.
About 12 months ago I was thinking the market was really leaning towards software heavily and I wanted to do something about it.
Now…I’m not a guy who can create software. Admittedly, I can be somewhat of a big dumb animal sometimes. So…I thought I needed to hire someone to do if for me.
Before I get into that though…let me tell you about my idea?
I wanted to make a meme factory. Let me explain…
This software would generate a whole pack of memes for you at the push of a button. You could basically select if you wanted your pack of memes to be funny or inspirational…
…select how big the package should be (10, 25, 50, etc.)…
…and then hit the BUTTON…and BOOM!
Instant product with a license to go along with it.
Now what good are a pack of memes you might ask?
Well, they are good for driving traffic, and they are good for selling to others if you have the right license.
So now I just needed a programmer to help me make it a reality.
I reached out to a programmer guy that I had known for a while. For the sake of this story, we will just call him Kecepticon (as I don’t want to make this about names, it’s really about education here.)
Kecepticon was more interested in partnering with me for this project than being hired by me because he had ambitions of becoming a “product launcher.”
So this was a programmer who had ambitions of becoming a marketer.
I agreed, under the condition that we sign a contract to make sure that everything was on the level, and everybody had a clear understanding of who owned what and what owned who and all that good stuff.
Here is a copy of that contract (I have blocked out Kecepticon’s real name, of course, to protect his privacy.)
So contract signed and everybody at an understanding…we got to work.
For the next couple of months Kecepticon and I had several video calls, and countless back and forth messaging on Facebook planning this software. We came up with a name (Memes2Go) and I went ahead and had a logo designed for it:
I got to work curating hundreds of quotes to be fed into the software. Inspirational and motivational quotes as well as funny quotes.
I also began the long arduous process of curating images with the right license rights to be used for a project like this. Funny images and motivational images.
Kecepticon began working on the software. He told me this would not be too difficult because he already had a basic software engine that he could modify for such a project as this.
So things were going pretty smooth. He would show me progress, and I would explain how it needed to be changed. Basically, most of my changes were about simplification.
Programmers like options. They love to put in lots of options. Too many options. I told Kecepticon we needed it brain dead simple. It is about ease of use, not options.
This was where my marketing brain kicked in and was an asset to our team.
I had a vision for “the meme factory” and it didn’t include getting bogged down with a bunch of pointless options that nobody cared about and kept them from getting instant gratification with the software.
Another cool thing I did around this time was come up with what the funnel would look like for Memes2Go….
Here are the covers for some of the different editions in the funnel:
I even began work on getting extra training together for our download page. Including this cool interview I got with Aiden Corkery, that I thought would make a pretty sweet addition for our customers:
And so it was, everything was going pretty good…until it wasn’t.
Kecepticon and I hit a problem on Memes2Go.
See we were continuously inputting images and quotes into our software and testing it to make sure it was working properly.
The motivational memes were coming together brilliantly. The funny ones though…not so much.
It turns out that it is incredibly difficult to randomly match up a funny picture with a funny quote and have the two things work together. Extremely difficult.
Essentially, you can’t fake funny.
Now you might think to yourself here, why not just drop the funny ones and roll with the motivational memes? That’s still pretty cool, right?
Not really. Here’s why.
I had done a lot of research on memes, including that interview you saw me do with Aiden above.
It turns out that “funny” memes are what people are really having success with when it comes to driving traffic.
In my opinion, the software could not go to market without this “funny” meme problem being solved.
And this is where, I believe Kecepticon and I had a difference in opinion.
We had reached a point in our project where the “You Can’t Fake Funny” problem was keeping us from moving any further.
It is my opinion that Kecepticon was starting to cool on the project a little bit. He seemed a little less engaged about it. He mentioned having some other things he was working on.
It was my opinion that he wasn’t that interested in trying to solve the problem with the funny memes…so I made a decision.
I decided to pull the plug on the project. I told him that I think we should scrap the project. Maybe we could come back to it at some point in the future, as we both had other things we were working on.
In the back of my mind I was thinking, maybe I should find another programmer to work my idea out with. This time I would HIRE them and not partner with them, and this time I would not stop until the problem was solved.
Taking the software to market with only the motivational memes, would only serve as a money grab.
The memes themselves would not be nearly as effective at driving traffic in my opinion, so in the long run the end user would be screwed. Another shiny software with big hopes that leaves people disappointed.
So we parted ways amicably. It was pretty annoying to throw months of work down the drain like that. But it was the right decision in my mind.
Now all that happened about a year ago and I thought that was the end of the Memes2Go story. I went on to do my own launches and Kecepticon went on to do a couple of really successful launches himself.
But let’s fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, because that is where our story picks up again…
You know it’s fitting that our story picks up on Facebook. Facebook, you dirty, soul sucking bitch. I always knew it would come back to you eventually (lol).
Who do I find on Facebook, asking people’s opinions on color schemes and fonts of his memes?
My good ol’pal Kecepticon!
Oh, he’s not calling them memes…these are social instant pics, or Fast quote photos or some such nonsense…
…and if I didn’t know better I’d have suspected he was doing some work on this project to get it ready for launch.
Now there is a place that ALL the WarriorPlus and JVZOO vendors like to post their upcoming launches.
And I thought I’d just mosey on over to Muncheye and see what some of the upcoming launches were.
What do you know, I find my good ol’ buddy Kecepticon launching an upcoming product that looks very similar to the one him and I were working on just 12 months prior.
Have you ever visited muncheye?
It’s an interesting place and there is always new software being launched that is posted on muncheye. Like this new one here…
I want to point something out here. There is nothing illegal about taking someone else’s idea and acting on it.
You cannot copyright an idea.
Is it ethical to begin working with someone, let them dump all their ideas on you, and then lose interest in a project, walk away and release that project on your own?
You will have to be the judge. I don’t think so personally. Neither do many other people. That’s why they make these 2 documents I am going to tell
you about, in just a bit.
But I digress. Back to the story.
So I responded to his inquiry for feedback on his Social Quote pics or whatever he was calling them.
I said, “wow…looks a lot like Memes2Go lol”
He did not respond.
So I was a little annoyed by what I saw. It appeared to me that Kecepticon was going to take our unfinished work from 12 months ago and go ahead and launch it with just the motivational quotes.
So I posted this on my facebook timeline:
Now notice that I did not name anyone in that post. It was educational in nature.
However, this post appeared to send my good ol’buddy Kecepticon into a little bit of a panic. I suppose because a few people were responding to it by asking me questions like, “What happened?”
Kecepticon saw all this and thought he would weigh in and respond to people FOR me.
“Kam is pissed at me because he thinks I took something from him. Maybe later I’ll do a video and get into some FB drama”
I wish I had the Kecepticon’s original comment to post for you but he deleted it. Anyways, after he posted this I updated my original post to look like this:
Notice how I am essentially telling Kecepticon that he should reach out to me privately and clear this up. As maybe I am mistaken about what is happening.
This was our private conversation:
There was no more response from Kecepticon. He has since blocked me.
Now, this is the part where I need to tell you about how I generally handle things when it comes to my online business.
I generally have two piles of stuff to worry about.
One pile is the stuff that directly makes me money.
(this pile I give the most attention to)
And the second pile is the stuff that doesn’t.
(this pile I try to ignore because it’s a waste of energy for the most part)
This stuff with Kecepticon was really annoying to me, and it could and probably would cost me thousands…
…however, it did not contribute to me making money. It looked like a giant time suck to me with very little gain for myself involved.
Also the worst part was…the whole thing was MY fault because I didn’t have him sign these 2 documents I am going to tell you about in a bit.
So basically I was planning to just let it alone. But then something happened.
Someone else saw that post I published to Facebook. Now I don’t want to name names but this person had a VERY interesting story to tell. It turns out that I was not Kecepticon’s first victim.
It turns out this had happened before. Here is a snippet of the private conversation that I had with this other victim of Kecepticon:
Now I have to say…it is not lost on me that this whole event actually produced a new friendship for me with our unnamed person here. And meeting honest, hard working people and making friends with them…well that is probably worth more to me than anything else.
So it’s a win. Long game win.
But now that I knew I wasn’t the only one Kecepticon had swindled for product ideas…it wasn’t just about me anymore. I felt I needed to do something to protect the community in which I had been a part of for the last several years.
I knew I wouldn’t be the last person to reach out to a known programmer to help them make their software ideas a reality.
So I reached out to 3 people I trusted for some council. I needed a little advice on how to proceed with this situation.
I don’t mind telling you the three people I reached out to because I hold them in high regard, and respect their opinions on such matters. They deserve credit for being trustworthy, intelligent, and wise people, prone to give very good advice.
I reached out to Barb Ling (a programmer and fellow marketer), Andie Brocklehurst (a programmer and fellow marketer), and Michael Lantz (the owner of WarriorPlus). All three deal with product launches and are familiar with the concepts behind launching software, especially on the WarriorPlus network. I consider them friends.
I don’t want to share what they specifically said to me, because those conversations were had in private and in confidence. Also their specific opinions don’t really add to the scope of what I am trying to do with this article.
What I will say is that they were extremely helpful conversations, and I want to take a moment to thank each of them for their input on the matter.
Barb, Andie, Michael…thank you. You are all very wise and gracious. I appreciate you.
After talking with Barb, Andie, and Michael I came to a decision on how I would handle this situation. Not to say that any of them told me to do this…
…it’s just the way I chose to proceed after speaking with all of them on the issue and thinking about it for a little while. You cannot overestimate the value of a good think, as long as it is followed with some action.
So what did I decide?
Well you probably figured that out.
I decided to write a blog article about the event and not name any names when it came to “guilty parties,” or people who acted in shall we say a less than ethical manner.
You are reading that article now. We’ll call it:
“The Kecepticon Report”
And it is here as a warning to all would be marketers who are eager to test their skills in the software launch game because they smell the easy money.
But let me give you my takeaways of this whole thing, and tell you about those 2 documents I keep referring to.
The whole point of this article is to help others not make the same mistake that me and the unnamed person I spoke of earlier made.
We are talking about mistakes that can cost you thousands of dollars.
I have 7 lessons for you.
Lesson 1: Always get the following 2 documents signed by any programmer that you MIGHT work with BEFORE you tell them about your software ideas:
DOCUMENT ONE) A Non-Disclosure Agreement – a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to ensure that all the information that you share is confidential between you and your developers. It essentially protects your idea from being reused or shared by those involved with your project.
DOCUMENT TWO) A Non-compete agreement – A non-compete agreement is basically aimed at keeping people from sharing your trade secrets to another rival company. Essentially, it refrains the contracted developers and other professionals working on your project from working on any other app project that directly competes with yours.
Lesson 2: Have a few trusted advisors you can reach out to on the tough situations like this. People who are prone to give good advice and who you can trust to not have some agenda against you.
Lesson 3: If there is one thing I have learned in this business, it’s that good things happen when we keep moving forward. This whole thing was truly my fault for not having the right documentation signed. Any kind of action I took on it after the fact did not stand to make me any money, only cost me energy. So be calculated in your business efforts and keep moving forward. Me, I’m on to my next money making venture. Short memory on failure and live in the present.
Lesson 4: Trust and presumed honor is not good enough with partnerships concerning money. Trust is only as good as a person’s moral fortitude and honestly there is no way any of us can know that about each other. Also I have found that the promise of a lot of money tends to make good people make stupid decisions. So just get the documents signed before you ever disclose any information.
Lesson 5: Pay it Forward. Throughout my marketing career I have worked hard to be transparent about my wins AND my losses. I feel that it is impossible for people to really be successful online without seeing the WHOLE picture and not just the good stuff. This idealism has cost me friends, JV support, and money to be honest. But I believe it is worthwhile. Principals are worthwhile. If you get value out of this article, I implore you to share with others your wins AND your losses, for the losses can also help tremendously.
Lesson 6: Always seek the message. With this post I am not seeking vengeance on anyone, or trying to call anyone out. I am seeking to educate and to warn future marketers about things I have experienced. I don;t think it’s productive to seek vengeance. I do think it’s productive to seek the lesson. Seek the message in any given situation. These 7 lessons are mine.
Lesson 7: Don’t be afraid to burn a few bridges. Sometimes you just need to “Release the Kraken.” That’s a boss decision, and real bosses don’t flinch in the face of a fight or an uncomfortable situation. In the end you’ll sleep better for it.
Ultimately, was a crime committed here? No.
Was something done that was unethical? It depends on who you are asking. In my view, yes. But that is irrelevant. What really matters is protecting your future assets. So take this story to heart.
Take a page out of the Eddie Vedder playbook.
“You think I got my eyes closed, but I’m lookin’ at you the whole fucking time!” – Eddie Vedder, Once
With that being said, I hope you all have an awesome day. I hope you got some value out of this one, and I will see you next time.
P.S. I don’t update my blog as much as I email my list. That’s where the real party is. You should opt-in and join me.
Kam Jennings (aka KamFatz) is a full time internet marketer. He is the owner of Epic Conversions Email Marketing and Digital Publishing. He can help you with your email marketing, your podcasting, your product launching and more...