I’ve noticed an alarming trend in Student Affairs. I’ve heard from a few different schools that a software vendor required them to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). What a scary thing to ask! We have never asked a potential client to sign an NDA, nor will we ever. Here’s why:
NDAs imply a lack of trust. When we show a potential client a demo of our software, we’re hoping it’s the beginning of a very long, special relationship. As we approach Roompact’s 5th birthday, we’ve had an impeccable client retention rate. We work hard to make sure our clients will stay with us until our 50th birthday and beyond! Starting a long relationship with the implication that you don’t trust the other person is a bad way to get started.
We’re several steps ahead. I imagine a software company would want a potential client to sign an NDA because they don’t want that person telling other companies about their “secrets”. Frankly, I don’t care if other companies find out about our software. If they try to copy us, they’re not going to do it as well, and they’re going to be a few steps behind. By the time someone could copy any of our software, we’ve already released updates. We’ve already launched something even better. At Roompact, our “secret sauce” is our team. We’re constantly listening, tweaking, and improving. You can’t copy that.
We wouldn’t even enforce it. Let’s say you sign an NDA, disobey it, and tell someone about the stuff you said you wouldn’t talk about. The company you signed the NDA with can now sue you. Can you imagine what would happen to a company’s brand if they sued someone in their industry, simply for sharing harmless information? No one would ever want to do business with them again. Enforcing an NDA would ruin a company, which means it’s really used for intimidation. Would you feel comfortable starting a relationship with an act of intimidation?
Signing an NDA only opens you up to risk. There’s no benefit to signing it. As someone looking to purchase software, you have the upper hand. If a vendor asks you to sign an NDA and you politely tell them that you don’t feel comfortable signing it, do you think they’re really going to say “Okay, I’ll stop trying to sell my software to you”? No. They’ll still move forward, and they’ll show you and tell you about everything you want to know. Unless you’re buying software with features related to national security, Non-Disclosure Agreements are a complete overkill.