Awesome Ideas · E-Commerce

A true story: Stealing ideas and how to deal with it?


May 27th, 2017

Hi there CoFounders Friends,

I have seen a lot of conversations on CoFoundersLab on the topic of stealing ideas. We all have wondered how to speak of our ideas knowing the risk that someone can take it and run with it. There is a fine balance between NDAs, etc. and getting the word out. We talk about how ideas cannot be protected legally but it is the HOW the idea is executed that is important. Ultimately, what I have taken from these discussions is that there is a wide spectrum of opinions on how to take your idea out to the world to get it off the ground. They range from: Get NDAs for all conversations to NDAs are useless - get your idea out there and focus on execution - people don't really steal ideas anyway, etc. I found myself landing somewhere in the middle: Get NDAs signed when speaking about the details but forego them when talking more broadly about the idea.

A few nights ago, I found out that my idea had been basically stolen. Yes, this does apparently happen. To be entirely transparent and honest, the information is still raw and there are many emotions pumping through my heart.

I met with this fellow a few months ago to while I was researching my idea. He was a potential vendor partner and I was researching whether there was an audience and market. I only spoke of the idea at a 30k foot level but it was enough for him to run with it. The good news is that I do not believe that I revealed the “secret sauce” that truly makes it a unique and disruptive idea.

Of course, I am working on legal recourse and the plan of action now. I do not plan on going down without a fight (a good fight because I have a strong moral compass but I also do not like to get conned). If anything, this will make me redouble my efforts to make my product even stronger.

I guess I just wanted to keep this very important discussion going on CoFoundersLab. Perhaps my question, ultimately is, what would you do?

Very best,


Anindita Das Coach and Co-founder Global Expat Coachworx. Your Life, Your Coach

Last updated on May 29th, 2017

Hi, it's a good question - intellectual property stealing - doesn't it make us all mad!

If I were you, I would ask myself what exactly is disturbing me here - is it my values, ethics, principles or financial loss or loss of friendship and trust, anything else. Once I know that, I would take action. Perhaps look at a way which is win win for all, looking at a foreseeable future.

please let me know if my answer could help.

Kevin Smothers Founder & CEO of a tech startup.

June 1st, 2017

Hopefully I'm not too blunt in my response, but I feel you only have two legitimate options in a scenario when your idea is stolen.

  1. Get over it and move on.
  2. Have your lawyer pursue legal options.

If you want to act preventatively, I'd say that it's important to have a sound legal strategy that protects your idea so that you can minimize the chances of having to choose between #1 & #2