An orthodox business model to deal with leechers and proposal vampires

Nov 01, 2010 15 Comments by

Warning : We suck!

Many a times, all coders, entrepreneurs and marketers face a catch-22 situation. You need to pitch for a project and you need to demonstrate to the client that you are the most FIT person to handle the project. But the more information you give, the more you risk plagiarism and IP theft.

Speaking for my own self, normally, when I write a proposal, I put in years of research, experience and precious time to draft an end-to-end. Sometimes I even give a lot of zero-day stuff.

In my time, I have met people/potential clients/leads I can widely classify into 4 categories:

  • Serious and willing : These are the kind of clients that WANT the solution and will go with the best proposal. Price will not be a disqualifying factor, but a step II of the negotiations. Kama uko poa, uko poa. And this category will engage you on a professional level. You do not need to know anyone. Your proposal will speak for herself. God bless this lot.
  • Serious but broke : This is the type that will invite you to send your proposal, call you for endless meetings, demos and even test-runs. Then, WHEN it comes to the actual installation and start-of-training, they say : “Manze hii system yako ni kali, but we cant afford the USD 5000 that you are charging. Our budget is KSHS 55k. Acha niongee na mdosi/my dad/my partners, I think we can raise it to 57k”. Time wasters!
  • Jokers : This category will take you through the same stages as the one above, but when the actual implementation phase reaches, they will respond : “Thank you very much for your time and effort. However, we plan to implement such a system in Q4 2018. We will be in touch.”
  • Leechers, Vampires : This is the worst type. They will make you write proposals, call you for demos and call to ‘clarify some little technical requirements’ and even take you out for ‘lunch kiasi ndio tuelewe hii system yako’. Then, they will talk about costs and timelines, they SUDDENLY, they will go silent. Your Emails and phone-calls will go un-answered. Then, a few months later, you will see your proposal on a newspaper. As a solution. Word for word. Even upto the specifications you proposed. A lot of examples come to mind. One is below.


The leechers use you to get information, as much as possible, then give the actual job to their cousin in Sri Lanka or campo. It is very easy to hire coders once you have the system well spec’d.

So, how do you deal with this problem?

  1. Learn to detect the leechers. You get an email “Dear Coder X, we need to run an SMS campaign Y. Please send us a proposal detailing all we need, the revenues and how long it will take.”. This is a leecher. Run or read on to step 2.
  2. Be as technically vague as possible : Always give the layman’s view. If you are a coder, get a marketing person to write your proposals. Coders give too much info. No demos, no nothing until there is an NDA. Liko once told me, “Salim Go for all demos with a legal representative.”
  3. Charge for the proposals : This is tricky. You need to SELL before you can CHARGE. These 2 models might help. Model 1 for eliminating tire-kickersModel 2 with Pros and Cons.

Nowadays, i do nothing technical, I mean NOTHING for free. “Salim, let us meet for lunch uni-advise what to pick between Python and Erlang.” – Kanja. “Salim, How do I optimize my mySQL Database to handle over 10M requests per hour. Advice tu. Nitajifanyia mwenyewe.” – Kanja. “Salim, How are you?” – Free.

Back to code.


Coding, Personal

About the author

Coder, hacker, inventor, pool guru.

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