We Care They Care might have stolen their business plan from a company

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I try to refrain from posts such as these but this is a fairly serious news that could put a black spot on things.

I have learnt that the President of TIE Lahore has received a complaint from an established business that the CBM team of students behind We Care They Care stole their business plan to present it as their own in TIE.

The complaint mentions that the students has visited their offices and studied their company on an excuse which did not mention the fact that they would be presenting that plan as their own design in the TIE Competition.

Most companies are pretty supportive towards students doing class projects about them, so  I can imagine why this company would have spent time with the students to help them. I can also imagine the frustration to learn that all that help was just a ploy to steal someone’s plans.

This can prove to be a very serious dent on the reputation of TIE’s event, given that such unethical means were used to get ahead, and yet in multiple rounds of evaluations and shortlisting no one could tell that this plan wasnt theirs. Its sadder still to see that such behavior landed them a prize and funding.

I would imagine just one of those “Apprentice” board room type of sessions would be enough to reveal when a person hasn’t actually worked on something. Even a simple “what does the market look like?” question can reveal clues if your plan is a xerox copy of another player in the market.

I hope TIE makes quick note of this, investigates the complaint and if found guilty reverses the prize and the funding announcement and sends some sort of a very serious notice to CBM about this.

I also just wish this competition hadn’t been called “Khudee”. What kind of message are our students giving to the industry about raising khudee?

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14 Comments

  • IMHO, they may have stolen the business idea from another company but does that mean their business plan was plagiarized? All business plans don’t have to be ‘original’ and that’s not even necessary. It may sound ‘unethical’ but the fact is that these guys beat other contestants fair and square. People may say that their plans didn’t reach the judges or that there should’ve been some other ‘better’ plans; but I am sure whatever reached to the judges, the best was selected. And we all know that these judges are well respected industry veterans so let’s just respect their decision and look forward to the next year’s event.

    The good thing about TIE Khudee is that it happend! It may not be perfect but it will improve with time so let’s just support despite all rumors, news, and bad-quality-plans.

    Disclaimer: I dont know “We care they care”, in fact I don’t know what/where CBM is (I guess it’s a college in Karachi?).

  • Ammar I can see your perspective here. The deeper question is that if they won because they took a plan that had already been tried and proven and refined and solidified in the market, how much of the credit of “making” such a plan goes to them? Whatever made the plan stand out and look good is because of the years of hard work that the other company’s put into it.

    Tough things like this happen in business – there are people claiming Facebook is a stolen business model too. Its also alright for similar ideas and similar plans to emerge in a market but the finer line lies in the details – I’m not aware of the details of both WCTC or the other company, but if the details are identical as well then there is a case that it is a copy.

    The problem with the copy — atleast for this event — isnt whether or not it is unethical to do this. The problem is that the winning team actually had very little of their own insight and hard work behind this plan… would you reward people who just copy and paste and attribute an idea/plan to be their own?

    We’ve been trying to promote TIE Khudee from the start, and although we could write off the fact that poor plans were received by them, I dont think we can simply write off or reward unethical behavior. It is not fair to the other cotestants nor a good example.

    Just my thoughts.

  • I don’t think that this post should have been posted. 99 out of 100 ideas in Pakistan and in the Middle East region are copies of similar businesses running in US. Its not about the originality of the idea. Its about the work they did and how they performed in the competition. They did it better than the others and they fairly won the competition. They didn’t give any bribe or something like that to the judges. So, we all should respect the judges decision and should appreciate all the effort they put in.

    I am a big fan of G&W blog but this post have really made me sad.

  • @Muhammad

    I don’t agree with you. Osama already explained enough in earlier post. I agree, not only in Pakistan but in world, no idea could be 100% original but there should be fair lines between copy and original idea. But, I believe we all are not much aware about the difference between original and present idea of TIE winner team, so we can’t say some thing before complete details.

  • Why does that surprise you?

    The idea TIE selected as #1 is a Day Care Center. How is that innovative? There are hundreds of day care centers out there. Ofcourse this is going to look like they mimmicked one of them.

    That’s what was wrong with the finalists, they sounded more like requests for loans for standard businesses (dukaan, rikshaw etc). No innovation?

    So, if you say that “hey! your day care idea is unoriginal!”, we’re not surprised, its a day care center!

  • @Muhammad, I don’t think there is anything wrong with the post. Osama does have a very strong point about the effort that these guys put in the business plan. Come to think of it, primarily the event was for students and like all other student activities, the aim was to encourage and train students. If someone submits a plagiarized plan, that’s a sure breach of trust (a parallel could be someone submitted a copy of another software in a software competition or a copied idea in a writing competition etc.). So I agree 100% with Osama on that. In fact, Osama has all the right to question the competition’s credibility as he has been promoting it on Green & White and if such things happen, it affects GW’s credibility as well. At the end of the day, this is journalism where credibility is everything. I would encourage Osama to highlight this even more so much so that the day care guys come forward and give some explanation or someone on their part should give some explanation (though I think this may be very unlikely – this reminds me that once Osama wrote about Rozee and I was surprised to see Monis’s comments on the post about how they’ve improved things – that shows how successful businesses work. So I hope WCTC ppl take some lesson from that).

    Anyway, I agree business plans don’t need to be original in real life but in student competitions, they do.

  • This is not the first time this has come up. I can see both the angles here. Osama been right that it is the “idea” that you sell and Ammar with the perspective of whole picture.

    It depends what the TIE people were looking for. If its 100% from idea to business plan then a BIG NO for sure. However stealing an idea has always been around. This is not to justify the act but at the same time if you do not have a brillient business plan what good is an idea?

    2002 was the year KASB group started a TechVenture company. The fund was setup with angle investor from all the technology sectors around the world to fund “great ideas” in Pakistan and to act as an IT incubator. I was lucky to be a part of that venture, however it was very sad that we were not able to fund even one “good” idea. We ran workshops around the country in all the leading institution’s but the response was very limited and quality of business plans were not very good either. Most of the ideas were for software houses, a bit of call centers and lots for “computer shops”.

    I see that we have come a long way since then. Its good to promote entrepreneurship in our younger generation however at the same time ethical & busniess norms should be adapted, keeping in mind that life is not always fair :)

    My two cents.

    /Majid

  • Gents

    if I go out and copy ebay’s plan and adopt it for the local market and get it up and running in this market and introduce it as Ebay for Pakistan, I would agree with the every plan is a copy of the original.

    But if you come to my office as part of a student project, take my business idea, present it without understanding it and giving any credit at all to the original authors or executors, I would be very very upset.

    The question is not if all business plans are original. For MITCEF we as teams and our boards signed a declaration that the plan was our original work and we owned the IP associated with it. What I am surprised is that there is a fair bit of overlap between the MITCEF organizing team and the TIE Khuddee organizing team. How could this slip through?

  • The very idea….everybody has ideas..there are millions for the taking on the internet including websites which allow you to use them freely..”creativity pool ” for example..

    In general they are of little value..Why?Because you cannot know the value of it without testing it..As part of my research for “startup-asia ” i talked to many investors in UK;USA and other countries..one thing that comes over very clear…there biggest problem is finding viable projects to fund ..they have too many to choose from !
    Many mistakes are made .they call them “the living dead ” Some miss billion dollar ideas.
    example .the chief marketing officer for Steve Jobs was asked to be ceo of Yahoo..it thought it would never be any good..thnks now it “cost him $2 billion..”
    In getting peoples views on testmyidea …almost all said” But won’t ideas be stolen ? In reality it does not happen..the real entrepreneurs will always go with their idea…those who copy rarely have the passion to be successful…
    In the final analysis .It can be very difficult to get others to understand an original idea..with most ideas based on former successful models .Copying will happen, unfortunately, but it’s of comfort to know that
    the real creatives will make it ..
    Because you can’t copy passion for a dream realised……..
    ian

  • I dont get why people are just talking about this. I was personally present in TIE Khudee competition and all the plan that were presented were either adopted from somewhere. THIS WAS NOT THE COMPETITION about coming up with something new but with something that is needed in PAKISTAN. And the students of CBM did a good job. They never said that they are presenting an idea which has never been implented in the world or in Pakistan. I think this complain is baseless and the company should be sorry for doing these kinds of complains. Everyone has a competitior, I have never heard COKE complaining about PEPSI that they stole their plan of cola drinks . OR PEPSI and COKE complaining of MAKKA COLA.

    People dont apppreciate entreprenuers in Pakistan and that whats happening with them as well.

  • I agree. If a company is operationg in the market, it doesnot been that the market will become theirs. They should be prepared for competition. Plagiarism or copy pasting a plan is, i would agree something unacceptable, but a company saying that people copied their idea?? thats very childish. ideas are everywhere, and a DAY CARE?? That is something very common in the whole world.Its not an innovative idea on its own as mentioned by others in their posts.
    The company should be confident in what they do, and an established company should not get scared of a bunch of new students stepping in as competitors (if they ever do).
    With attitudes like these, how will new companies or new businesses form? Im sure more day care companies will be formed in Pakistan in some years. WAhat will the company do then?

  • Well osama please clarify that how can you be so confident that these young students actually ‘plagiarised’.I mean Maleeha is very right in saying that ‘day care is nothing new’ and i think students are taught very well that in order to be challenging , you must study your competitors thoroughly,Get a picture of their strengths and weeknesses and try to learn from them.I think that successful companies have their policy not to reveal their ‘so called plans or strategies’ to others and if this XYZ company did reveal to these students which i m 101% sure they would have never,then I am sorry they dont seem to be professional at all and one can easily point them out and accuse them in reacton and say that ‘this company is blaming them having no grounds’.I think TIE is a very high profile organizaiton and they have transparency in all their procedures.They must have gone through all the procedure carefully and then finalized these winners.I feel that it is unethical to say that ‘the CBM team of students behind We Care They Care stole their business plan to present it as their own in TIE’.so we should not doubt them and should avoid such rumors and appreciate the day care team winners.
    Thanks

  • Jibraan Hayat Khan

    own and and spreading misimformation is NOT professional. Although i didnt get a chance to see the final presentation made from their side since i had to leave during the time Mr. Lodhi was presenting, but i later met up with Mr. Monis and Mr. Ali in Karachi and i completely agree with their decision rational. It was not product or idea innovation that got WCTC the first prize. It was their startup strategy execution plan that earned them points. Apparantly only a few teams had worked on that. Although their initial financials did look absolutely ridiculous but when they did revise them it showed the group knew what they were talking about (revised financials were also not overly impressive). According to the opinion of two of my freinds who as also VC’s present in the summit, if any plan deserved to win, it was either Properdia(a peoperty wikipedia) which due to weak research did not make it even in the top three or the we care they care day care plan.

    The day care idea obviously sounds non original beacause it is something that every person has been hearing about since forever, but the judges were not so stupid as to consider THIS fact as a reason to base the plan plagiarized. Day cares, especially in Pakistan are very rarely a profitable idea, and there are few people willing to take the risk of starting a private daycare. It’s a labor of love, or a bankruptcy. I’d tell the same thing to anyone looking to start a for-profit swimming pool, or a football park, or a network gaming center. These are all services that are important for a community, but wouldn’t be provided at all if left to the government alone. Comming up with a business plan to start a daycare aimed at all this and also to encourage working women in Pakistan actually is a brilliant idea.
    The We Care They Care group got three huge investment offers on the day on the final presentation, which basically says it all. I believe what deserves credit and appreciation should definitely be given that and besides, a judge can be biased or just stupid, but NOT a venture capitalist. For those of you who dont know what a VC is should look it up on the internet.
    Cheers

  • Jibraan, Amyn, Maleeha, The title of the post says
    ‘We Care They Care MIGHT have stolen their business plan from a company’ there is a might in the title, which is there because the post was based on some events (the letter being dispatched by the organization to the TIE people etc).
    The comments have already discussed the issue that copying an idea is not an issue, this is what a blog is we put some thing up you read it agree/disagree a discussion starts and a group consensus is made.
    It would have been great if some one from TIE or the Student group who were the owners of the project clarified these things, but because no one from either side came forward the reality of what happened after the initial disclosure is not known to any of us

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