My friend recently spoke with a medical company about a contract position developing a computer vision app for mobile devices. While he has worked on medical-related projects before and has some programming experience, he is a mechanical engineer by trade and has never coded for mobile platforms or worked on computer vision problems before.

He reached out to me before speaking with the company asking for my advice on how to tackle the problem they are trying to solve. I recently sold my company (where I was the lead/only programmer) that did just that: computer vision applications on mobile devices for medical applications, and received my masters degree in computer vision, so I'm fairly versed in the subject. Now I do contract/consulting for various companies (similar to this one).

It sounds like the problem he is trying to solve is a fairly complex computer vision problem--not one that can be solved by simple image filtering--and one that would take a lot of experimentation and trial and error to get right. I am assuming that if he gets/takes this position, he'll want to use me a fairly heavy resource. He said we could work together and possibly split some of money, but I feel like that is a strange position to be in.

He's also planning on charging them 50% more than I charge my clients, since they are a big, well-known company with deep pockets.

The things I'm struggling are He's a good friend, so I want to support him, but at the same time I feel I would be doing most of the technical work, while he would get most of the credit and money.

Is there a way that I can utilize him and complete the project so that we both get equal credit and pay?

  • Personally, I'd give him a copy of your dissertation or whatever and make that the limit of your help to him. Whether you try to take the job from him depends on whether you want to keep his friendship. It's unlikely he sees his lack of capbility the way you are, and so he may well frown on your "stealing" this job, even if he couldn't do it justice. And he could surprise you. Feb 6, 2013 at 0:49
  • 12
    Help him by writing up a contract and billing him at your normal hourly consulting rate. We're talking for-profit business here, not helping your friend build a deck in his back yard.
    – DA.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 1:15
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    I updated your question to make it constructive. Questions asking about right or wrong are not constructive and we can not tell you what to do. It seemed like this might be the ultimate goal for you. If I am wrong feel free to change but make sure you ask a practical question. Us telling you your situation sucks is not going to help you. We can help you accomplish a goal though. Feb 6, 2013 at 3:48
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    As @DA. said, bill him hourly for your consulting services. Charge him the normal rate you charge for your clients. He'll get a chunk of the money, but you'll make some as well. Make it a strictly business arrangement. DeerHunter there's nothing wrong with utilizing people to complete a goal. Especially if you're doing it in the interest of both parties.
    – Randy E
    Feb 6, 2013 at 6:47
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    @DeerHunter that was added by Chad's edit. That said, what is wrong with that phrase in your opinion?
    – DA.
    Feb 6, 2013 at 7:14

1 Answer 1


Is there a way that I can utilize him and complete the project so that we both get equal credit and pay?

Sure, you consult yourself out to him on your usual daily rates.

The fact he is a friend just blurs the fact that this is still a business. Treat it like any other job, even draw up a contract based on time and cost and what your responsibilities will be.

This means you can use the experience / credit like you would from any other job, stick it on your CV etc.

This may also benefit your friend more than you can think of. For example perhaps this wake up call from you will help him realize what really goes into a project. What processes he really has to go through when requesting help from others, it will also help when they have to go through the process if they get a different contractor.

It might be hard to do to your friend, but he isnt asking for your friendly advice, he is asking for your professional input, so thats how you have to do it, professionally.

  • 5
    A clearly defined contract could go a long way to keeping the friendship as well.
    – Andy
    Feb 9, 2013 at 0:41

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