Legal, Tax, and Accounting October 19, 2020

Coworkers as first users?

Deven Jarvis @devenjarvis

Hey IH!

My current project is about ready for a soft launch and I was hoping to get some legal advice. Should I feel comfortable pointing my coworkers to my side project once I launch?

Some context
I'm an engineer turned product owner/manager for a large enterprise and my upcoming side project makes it easy to create informative product roadmaps for stakeholders to understand the priority and timeline of upcoming work. I've spend a ton of time manually building good looking roadmaps for my team which was the impetus for the idea, but actually starting this side project was validated by several of my coworkers reaching out and asking how I built my roadmap so they too could have something for their teams/stakeholders.

They are clearly the ideal audience and they really validated the idea for me, but I'm worried about crossing any legal boundaries here. I've been careful to ensure all work on this happens on my own time and my own hardware to create clear separation from my day job. Also the company I work for is not a technology company in the least, so no competition issues. However, I'm worried that introducing my coworkers to this product could somehow become legally confusing. Also if it matters, I'm just soft launching a free tier static roadmap generator; a paid tier for interactive hosted roadmaps will come shortly after. Would love any advice on the matter!

  1. 1

    Check out your employment contract. If there are clauses that prevent you doing what you're doing now, then you're good to go. Laws do not prevent such side projects, only employment contracts do.
    Non-compete clauses and using employer's resources for building products are the most common obstacles, but you say that they are not an issue here. So, if nothing arises from the rest your contract, I believe you won't have any problems.

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