Something I’ve been thinking about alot lately. As well as a discussion, I wanted to share with other freelancers the pitfalls!
Up until now, I’ve always had enquiries from people who want to know how to develop a shoe or a shoe line. I like to give back, so I always respond to all enquiries.
But I’ve been pondering the fact that most big shoe companies don’t give these enquiries the time of day, its starting to dawn on me why.
In six years I can only think of four potential businesses that contacted me where their idea has come to fruition and is working well. When you consider I’m getting about three enquiries a week at the moment, then it’s not many is it?
I only get involved as a designer if I think they’ve got a chance and bizarrelly most of the enquiries that require me to sign an nda before the ‘invention’ is revealed, I can actually ‘guess’ what the invention is before they’ve even told me, as the same three ideas come up again and again.
You have to question why no ones managed to make a success of these ideas when there are already countless patents already filed and even some products in the market place but not exactly setting it alight.
What worries me is that I took an enquiry recently, the product was revealed to me and a few days later, I realised I’d developed a product that was very close to that indeed, but I’d developed it about four years ago. I work on alot of very varied footwear and I’m starting to think that theres a really big risk of this happening again, but with a product I’ve just developed, which then gets delivered to retail six months after I’ve signed an NDA.
I think I’m compromising my business incase a client of mine (i.e. footwear business already in the trade) briefs me to do something and I find I can’t do it because I’ve signed someones NDA!
A few years ago I made a big mistake - I signed an NDA for product that is actually already out there, but agreed to not reveal/work on other product like it for five years (you live and learn). I’ve had enquiries from businesses already out there and already developing this product,but I had to turn the work down because of this client (who incidentally has never managed to get their product off the ground!).
I’m now thinking that I need to be more careful, am considering changing the wording on my website also. I’m thinking that I shouldn’t sign ndas or discuss ideas in most cases because 1/ the enquirer does not have a chance in hell of ever getting it to market (this is the brutal honest truth) 2/ It compromises my business.
I wanted to warn other freelancers out there about the pitfalls of dealing with these kinds of enquiries and also I’d appreciate your thoughts and feedback.