That bit*h stole my business idea! How I’m going to get her back.
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I received this in my inbox this morning:
Wait! “Have Coffee with Jill”?!?! That sounds exactly what I’ve been offering for a year now! She stole my idea! Her webpage is almost word for word my webpage!
I’m so mad, so incredulous, so about to go all Johnny Cochran on her…
Except that I’m not. Any of those. In fact, I was the one who not only convinced her to do it, I’ve been helping her along the way —
Jill: “Do you paypal invoice each person individually when you are ready to invoice for coffee?” Ensuing instructions from me to her on my process.
Our first conversation, at Schuba’s a few months ago, was Jill being incredulous that I charge people to have coffee with me. People seem to think “Let me buy you a beer” makes it worth it to me to give up time I could be working on a paying-project. Change that to “Let me pay your health insurance for the month,” you’ve got my ears.
“Don’t people get offended when you respond to ‘Can we grab a drink?’ with ‘Sure, sign up here and pay me $12’?”
I’ve never had any blow-back, so to speak. Most people sign up. As soon as I put it on my website, touted it as a service I offer, made it official, any weirdness I felt dissipated. I used to say yes to every request. I just don’t have the time any more. I need to make a living.
So, why aren’t I hopping mad that now someone is making money off of my idea?
Number one, I like Jill. She and I are similar in that we both cobble together random ventures that oddly and wonderfully provide us a salary. We’re planning a joint event come October. I already have, and will continue to, benefit from having her in my life, benefits that far outweigh the money that may go to her instead of me on the off-chance that a person only has $12 to spend, has to choose between the two of us, and ends up in a coffeehouse sitting across from Jill instead of from me.
Number two, my response to all the inquiries I get about expanding, partnering, franchising Coffee, the Minglers, Fear Experiment, is “Go for it!” I don’t own the ideas. And the world would be a better place if there were more fun, challenging, affordable, unique offerings. Enough with the guarding of goodness!
Number three, a major part of most of the services I offer is the man behind the curtain — me. While I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, many people seem to enjoy sipping me. The personality of the curator is key in “experience-based” services. And I don’t think everyone is cut out to play that role. I’m pretty confident that a good portion of society couldn’t have sold seven-hundred $24 tickets to the Park West last April to see bad dance and bad improv from a bunch of amateurs, nor have twenty-five people pay $15 to bring food and drink to her house tomorrow to play board games.
I must say, seeing my baby touted so in a prettily designed email that went out to hundreds, thousands?, makes me feel all MBA’y and LLC this and VC that, even though I’m just an English/Socoiolgy BA with no business plan, no power-suit, and a savings account a week-old.
So world, take my Coffee idea and have your way with it. No revenge will be administered. If you become a millionaire off it, maybe offer to buy me dinner.