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Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

A company is interested in "custom branding" my freeware app.

Hi all,

I recently wrote an application that I distribute for free. This application cannot be used for commercial purposes as I specify in the license agreement.

Today I got an email from a company asking if I can provide custom branding of my application and some small modifications.
They are also asking me how much I would charge them.

It's the first time that I go into this kind of situation and I don't know what to do.


1. I know it's a tough question but how much should I charge for this? It took me around 40 hours to write this program.

2. What is exactly 'custom branding'? Should I provide their own logo and company name in my program? Can I still keep my name on it specifying that I wrote it?

Thanks a lot and sorry if these are too basic questions but I haven't been able to find any information about this and I'm pretty confused.

moonlit Send private email
Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Branding is easy, I think they just want few changes in order to put their a custom logo or banner.

Let me know if you're interested, I'll give you some guides.
or maybe I can help you doing this.

Mohammad Kassoumeh Send private email
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Seems like a licensing question, but do they want it branded so they can sell it?  I don't see why they'd want it branded otherwise, but I have no idea what the app is.  Assuming that's not the case, I would probably go with math like this:

MyHourlyRate * 40 (the initial work)
MyHourlyRate * HoursToReBrand
SomethingToReallyMakeItWorthwhile (this is where negotiating room would be for me)

I'd also consider a support contract with them. 

However it works out, it's a pretty cool situation, I think.  Good luck!
Eric Muntz Send private email
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Thanks for your replies.


thanks for offering your help. I'll let you know as soon as I know more about the custom branding.


I really appreciate that information. It was very helpful for me.
Yes, they plan sell it. Is it ok to apply your math if that's the case or I should be asking for more?

moonlit Send private email
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
The price you ask will depend on the level of pain they would experience if they designed their own program instead of using your program.  They either don't have time or an internal resource they can assign the project to.

If you make the price too high, it may make sense for them roll their own so keep it reasonable.

Be sure to specify how they can use the program in the license.
psant Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Hmm, now I don't know.  If this was my software, my math wouldn't make me happy if they were planning to sell it.  I'd try to pursue an agreement where they license it for distribution and pay for the branding work and then pay me a percentage of all sales, or either a lump sum up-front to purchase all the selling rights - and that would be higher than the math I first provided.

That said, there are certainly people around here much more informed on this kind of situation than I am.  I've only done something like that once and it was "brokered" by somebody else on my behalf. 

Good luck.
Eric Muntz Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Have you considered a licensing fee per sale?  If they see your software as worthy of branding as their company's then they probably have some notion of value that's quite different from yours. A per unit price allows them to run with it and you to receive a royalty commensurate to their success with your work.

I'd ask them what they'd set the price at and how many units they think they can sell. Price your royalty on their revenue and what you feel is your fair share as the software author. If there's money to be made I would invest in a couple of hours of an attorney's time to write up an agreement.
Keith DeLong Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Was your app to be sold separately or was it intended as an accessory utility for their own app?  The answer may determine your approach.
psant Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
1) Ensure they are willing to pay for 100-1000 licenses up front (depending on perceived value) - $29 app -> 2900 (no) 29K (yes)
2) Draft an agreement with a lawyer
3) Receive payment
4) Buy an activation based licensing mechanism and outsource the key generation to them. Ensure each license key can only be used N times (depends on your application)
5) Brand your application
6) Give them consulting on how to integrate the licensing into their purchase process. Receive the second half of the payment here.
7) Invoice them bi-weekly for number of license keys generated.
8) Profit

Disable the licensing service if they do not pay within 10 days after your invoice date.

Things to think about include support and bug fixes. I would make that separate.
Anonymoose Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
"Things to think about include support and bug fixes. I would make that separate. "

Yes, make sure you're NOT on the hook for product support unless they're paying you a good monthly amount, and even then it should be capped at X amount of support calls/emails per month.

Also, bug fixes and future versions shouldn't be free.

Try to keep control of the software if you can.

But don't be greedy and don't be a jerk -- if it took you 40 hours to write, it might be reasonable for them to assume that they could do it in 120 hours x $80/hour consultant... (pulled those numbers out of thin air... )
Doug Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Are you talking about Mobiroo? They are sort of a branded app intermediary company. I got an email from them recently asking me to contribute my apps to their portfolio. This company is totally new to me: there doesn't seem to be much info about this company on the web. Their website doesn't even show a physical address. But it's a neat idea.
Christopher Wong Send private email
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Thanks a lot for your replies. You guys are so helpful!!
I really appreciate all your help.

ok... I have some news today. I got this email from them:

"Basically our company is doing mobile device business. Basically we want to blend the software to put into our devices  ( WinCE platform) and deliver it free to our device user.  So what we need is basically to display with our company logo with your program. So the license we want is to make sure it will only work with our device and we do not intend to make profit from your software , just to provide an value added services to our customer. "

By summary... they are selling their own devices and software and they want to include my application "as a gift" to their customers but changing the logo.

I don't know what you guys think but I don't like this too much... I do think that they are making profit with my application. Not directly but...
moonlit Send private email
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Is their software free?

If yes, then maybe I would think about it.

If no, then they ARE making money off YOUR software.
schlabnotnik Send private email
Monday, October 05, 2009
They need to provide you with a compelling reason for you to "give away" your software.

That is either:
- A one-time licensing fee
- An ongoing revenue or share of revenue
- Any other reason that would increase value for your company/product.  More exposure perhaps?

PC manufacturers "give away" free trials of software that work for a short period.  You might consider that.

I don;t know why they think they can get something for free.  Obviously they think it adds value to their product, but they have done nothing to give you a reason to agree.

Tim J Send private email
Monday, October 05, 2009
I just re-read the part about you giving it away for free.

If it were me I would suggest I think what someone else suggested

1. non-exclusive right to distribute the software and they must always give it for free.

2. Charge them for your 40 hours plus the time to rebrand (whatever you want your rate to be)

3. retain rights to also distribute your app and develop new versions.
Tim J Send private email
Monday, October 05, 2009

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