I am fascinated by the story of the guy who dared to take on a corporate giant, and won.
And as a result, Kenneth Makate will be a millionaire, if not a billionaire by the end of the month.
And all because he refused to give up on what he knew was rightfully his.
When he was working for Vodacom in 2000, Kenneth came up with the idea of the Please Call Me.
He put it down on paper and one of the company big shots agreed to give him a 15 percent share in the profits, if it worked.
Well, it worked.
But once Vodacom saw how much money they were making from all the Please Call Mes being sent in Mitchells Plain alone, they were no longer so keen to share.
Arme Kenneth had to beg and plead and eventually sue them for his money.
Long story short, last week the Constitutional Court ruled that Vodacom definitely screwed him over.
The court called Vodacom greedy little liars because the previous CEO wrote in his book that he was the guy who came up with the idea, not Kenneth.
And this nogal after the company sent out a memo in 2001 congratulating Kenneth for his cleverness.
I spoke to Kenneth on the phone last week and he’s such a nice guy. He told me that it is a relief that the whole thing is now finally over.
He’s humble in saying that he has no hard feelings towards Vodacom. In fact, he reckons it’s still a very good company.
Well, the Constitutional Court also mentioned that Vodacom had made billions of Rands from his idea over the years and they have 30 days to reach a payment agreement with him.
It got me thinking about the time I worked for a company that wanted us workers to give them new business ideas on a regular basis.
They created a clever way for us to email ideas to the top executives in a type of competition.
The best ideas would win things like restaurant vouchers and the best one would get a trip overseas. It all sounded fabulous and my colleagues were excited.
But there was a sentence in the fine print that made it clear that once implemented, the idea belonged to the company. I remember asking what would happen if my idea ended up making the company millions of Rands. One of the executives told me that the overseas trip would be my reward.
He wasn’t impressed when I said that an overseas trip would hardly be enough reward for an idea that could potentially be worth much more than the value of such a trip.
In fact, if they gave me a tiny share of the profits, then I could go on overseas trips all the time.
They weren’t impressed, so I simply didn’t submit any ideas.
The moral of the story is if you have a business idea that you believe in, make sure you protect it and don’t sommer just give it away.
Because someone out there will get rich from it, while you worry about money for your monthly ticket.