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VAS entrepreneur explains why he says Telecel stole concept

We have been contacted by Peterson Tengende, who is the VAS entrepreneur accusing Telecel Zimbabwe of stealing his quiz VAS concept. His company, together with another one called Jet Telecom, are demanding that Telecel pay them $340,000 as settlement for implementing the quiz VAS concept without them. In his email to us, Tengende details what he says is proof that Telecel ripped the idea from his proposal.

We post below part of the email:

They are running with campaign we proposed, including name….
(1) “Mega Promo” is a term we coined. We ran a campaign called “Airtel Mega Cash” in Zambia.

They are using name “Mega Promo”. It’s a noun. They can’t claim to have thought of the name Mega Promo even before I had sent the proposal to them in January…they would have told me so….they told me SOS Credit, another initiative we proposed at the same time,  would not be accepted by them as they had “Emergency Airtime” or something soon to launch…different names…same concept.

Mandimika [Telecel’s Communications and Branding Director ] refers to “Mega Promotions”   not as a noun….but describing a promotion as mega or big!

(2) The proposal I gave suggested:
The Mega Promo will produce winners through the following: v Daily Lucky Draw v Daily Quiz Winners v Weekly Lucky Draw v Weekly Quiz Winners v Monthly Lucky Draw v Monthly Jackpot v Mega Jackpot

The Mega Promo they are running will produce winners through the following:  v Daily Quiz Winners x 2v Weekly Quiz Winners x 2v

(3) The proposal I gave suggested:
Promotion Mechanism, All the participants will enter the promotion with their SMS and Calls to the short code of the promotion. The short code is premium charged at $0.50 per sms and the calls will be charged at $0.50 per minute.

The Mega Promo they are running is charging sms at $0.25 (we would have bought sms’s from them at $0.25 and sold them at $0.50…they don’t have to buy from themselves)

(4) At the time of proposal, no Mobile Network Operator in the country had the software application to handle quiz via a 5 digit Short Code where SMS’s would be sent. That’s why we were essential to Telecel as we had the system and they did not. They did not and they can NEVER BE ABLE TO PROVE THAT THEY HAD THE SYSTEM. They developed the system after they saw the need for it from our proposal. The Herald article has Mandimika tacit admission that they realised it was a money spinner “AFTER” meeting us!
(5) The proposal stated “The campaign is deliberately designed to produce many winners on a daily basis, building up excitement for the bigger prizes to be won during the weekly, monthly and final campaign draws.”…this [is what] they are doing.

(6) Campaign would run for 3 months. Theirs also runs for 3 months until 4 November.
(7) Promotional messages will be periodically sent to the users to convince them to participate in the promotion. (this they are doing via sms, radio, press).

(Their system is still unstable and clients are complaining that some response messages are not going through….it is because the demand is huge and we knew demand would be huge when we proposed)

The concept of sending sms to a premium charged SHORT CODE was a unique feature in our proposal…no campaign in the country before then  had included that concept with quiz and accumulation of points to determine winner.

The Quiz as a way of selecting winners was unique……most previous campaigns by Mobile Network Operators entailed random lucky draw and entering draw automatically by recharging a certain amount.

Quick NetOne, Econet, And Telecel Airtime Recharge

11 thoughts on “VAS entrepreneur explains why he says Telecel stole concept

  1. There was need for Peterson Tengende to sign an NDA before devulging the mechanics of this Lootto campaign that Telecel has started.

    A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between at least two parties that creates a confidential relationship between the parties to protect any type of confidential and proprietary information or trade secrets. As such, an NDA protects nonpublic business information.

    NDAs are commonly signed when two companies, individuals, or other entities (such as partnerships, societies, etc.) are considering doing business and need to understand the processes used in each other’s business for the purpose of evaluating the potential business relationship. NDAs can be “mutual”, meaning both parties are restricted in their use of the materials provided, or they can restrict the use of material by a single party.

    1. A Non-Disclosure Agreement only goes so far as stopping Telecel telling anybody what these guys brought to them. it does not stop Telecel starting a service similar to the one the guys would have pitched. “Non-Disclosure” is not “Non-Compete”.

  2. MNO’s or Potraz need to create a level playing feild. Why is access to shortcodes so protected ? We need a situation in Zimbabwe where any developer can get access to shortcodes and sms gateways to test and even implement their projects. Why should developers have to submitt every little detail of their project to a MNO ? Developers and Entreprenuers should be given some protection for their ideas. We need a platform that can educate developers and entreprenuers on how to protect their ideas. We also need support so that our ideas are protected. In all fairness to Telecel – even if a NDA was signed – there is the possibilty that they were working on a similar concept themselves. If it was free for any developer to test and launch his own application with any MNO – then we would have a far better situation – maybe both applications could have been running – and there is nothing wrong with competition. Let’s be honest a lot of these new applications are not totally new concepts – they have been done in other parts of the world – they are not exactly reinventing the wheel.

  3. I have STRONG evidence that i gave Telecel the Mega SMS promo business proposal early this year. However, the business concept has been done in so many countries well b4 i approached telecel. Thats the reason i did not want to make any headlines about it because frankly its not a new idea at all and Telecel will never give a cent over such a case. So Mr Peterson so just relax and move on .

  4. I did not bother to read the article above because i think i just know the rest of the story from what i have read before.

    You cannot claim Telecel stole your idea if the thing is being done elsewhere. just because you went to them with the idea and even mentioned it does not mean that the idea was exclusively yours worldwide.

    In my personal capacity i have divulged details of projects I am working on even to banks and potential competitors. Even in the presence of a NDA as some say here, you have no justification to say Telecel stole your idea. There is a huge difference between a Non-Disclosure Agreement and a Non-Compete agreement.

    I am sure you know that Telecel started the Teletunes thing. If Econet starts a competing service, it does not mean they stole Telecel’s idea.

    This is why i dont want anyone coming to me saying he has an idea. What makes you think I do not already have that idea?

    Anyway, I would be happy to know just how much money you were expecting to make.

    Create something patentable, have a patent and you have some defence. Obviously you dont. You have no patent or even copyrights to an idea even telecel itself is using in other countries. What makes you think they were not going to do it anyway, anyhow, in the future, even without you?

      1. I will be honest and I am not trying to be offensive – its a waste of my time to teach people about copyrights in comments. Ideas are nothing but ideas. Facebook you talk about is actually software that was created and functions (and therefore has copyrights), and is a stand alone product, same with Twitter. These are not services on top of another service.

        It would be ridiculous, say, for some ‘genius” to say Facebook stole his idea of advertising on Facebook, even if the person went to Facebook’s headquarters and pitched the idea of advertising on Facebook when Facebook did not carry any adverts. It’s ridiculous!

        I rest my case.

        For more information, read another such silly incident at

  5. Not to be mean but I don’t think you have a case against Telecel. If you do, then Telecel has a much bigger case against Econet…

  6. Chokwadi would you think Telecel would pay for something they can assign an employee to do. The concept has been existance for many years. Instead of rehashing something that has been already done, why cant you come up with something spanking brand new and patent it. Kuda kuita quick money is the problem with us Zimbabweans.

  7. Unless your idea is REVOLUTIONARY do not claim monopoly on ideas or concepts…SA mobiles have been running these sort of campaigns close to 10 years now, so its a case of plagiarism gone sour

  8. Look the truth is this been true – they stole your idea.(full stop)

    Because they are an MNO with legal resources that sadly out weigh yours, they go to court and ride you out, they can claim their R & D or marketing departments had been working it

    But i think they do Because they can . . . (& for the money)

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