Protect Your Ideas

A couple of weeks ago, I received a call from my client inquiring about the payment for a side project I had completed for them. It seemed unusual since they had never called me about payment before. After ending the call and informing them that I hadn’t received any payment, I started to suspect that something was amiss. This was not their usual behavior.

As it turned out, my intuition was correct.

A few months prior, this party had approached me with an offer to do some web development for them. Considering our previous successful project in terms of payment and commitment, I agreed and was asked to send a quotation and some mockups via email.

And so I did.

I didn’t receive any response, and being busy with other things, I let it sit for two weeks. Eventually, I decided to call them to follow up and was informed that the project wasn’t approved to proceed due to “too many politics.” However, I didn’t suspect anything at the time. They had their own IT department filled with a bunch of individuals who seemed more interested in protecting their own interests than in doing any actual work. It was their little paradise, where they could get away with slacking off and claiming to be busy to everyone else’s obliviousness.

Well, everyone except those of us who are accustomed to working in the same field. How long does it really take to grant user access permissions? How long does it take to consider alternatives beyond Joomla?

You might be wondering how I came to know all of this. What if my assessment was incorrect?

The answer lies in a meeting I had with them. For the first 30 minutes, they rambled on, desperately defending their inability to fix minor issues that had persisted for two years. Having witnessed the ineptitude of their IT department, I doubted their ability to make a significant impact on the public.

During those initial 30 minutes, I observed and learned. Then, I started asking some technical questions, to which the leader failed to provide any answers. Luckily, the person accompanying him did respond correctly. The leader looked perplexed.

When someone fails to inspire confidence, you know what you’re dealing with.

How did I end up in that meeting in the first place? Well, not long after they had initially canceled the project, they suddenly greenlit it again and asked me to attend. However, after that meeting, I became less certain that the project would ever see the light of day..

My expectations didn’t have to wait for long. Two weeks later, I called them to inquire about the status and was informed that the project had been terminated for the second time. Given how the meeting unfolded, this didn’t come as a surprise. I was an outsider, lacking the advantage of familiarity. What else could I have expected?

What I didn’t expect was for them to take the design mockup I had created for them and build it internally. I was shocked when I saw it. I vividly remember drawing the layout by hand in front of them and proposing solutions to their problems. This isn’t the first time my ideas have been stolen, but the impact of this incident knocked me off balance.

Almost everyone suggested that I take legal action against them, and I’m well aware that I have all the evidence I need to support such a claim. I know that people would lose their jobs, and I understand the potential repercussions of the situation.

However, I chose not to pursue legal action. I wasn’t certain about the outcome, and I didn’t want to engage in something that I wasn’t fully confident about. I realized that dwelling too much on the past wouldn’t benefit me. What’s done is done; I need to move forward and focus on what’s next. They may have stolen my idea, but I am confident that I can do better in the future. I can use my intellect far more effectively than they can.

If I had written this post earlier, it would have likely been filled with bitterness. But carrying that burden serves no purpose. It’s not who I am, and I refuse to be someone who strays from my true self.

The lesson I learned from this experience is to protect your ideas. Utilize all the resources available to you. Don’t divulge information until agreements are in place or payment has been received. While money isn’t everything, you can’t afford to perform professional work for nothing. Life requires financial stability.

One more thing: They built a subpar product based on my idea. How pathetic. As my friend said, “biarkan mereka terus tidak popular”.

Posted April 25, 2013