Startups · Entrepreneurship

Can I assure my idea will not be stolen?

Ryan Thompson Commercial Real Estate Agent at Stidham Commercial

September 14th, 2016

I have some concerns about sharing my idea with other people. Not that I have a secret patent or something of that nature but just scared that someone else will take it from me and execute much faster. Is it important to share the idea when you have not taken the leap of faith yet?

John Lonergan Author: Antidote at Amazon

September 14th, 2016

No, you can't protect your idea from being stolen.  Even patents won't help when dealing with larger companies.
Your best "defense" is to work quickly.  Reiterate quickly.  Keep re-forming the idea and refining it with market input.  You may be small, but you can be quick.

Nuritzi Sanchez Founding Member, Special Projects Manager at Endless; President, Board of Directors at GNOME Foundation

September 14th, 2016

It sounds like you're not at the product point yet and that it's really just an idea, so I'll base my response around that instead of patents. 

We struggled with this same thing when we started Endless, a company that's making software for emerging markets. We were worried that larger companies would learn about our idea (to make an OS that leverages the internet instead of depending on it, and is easy enough for new-to-tech users to use), and execute more quickly than we would. Because of that, we shared only really vague information with most people and tried to sell them on our mission and vision. We also had people sign NDAs. 

We quickly found out that you can only talk so much about mission and vision, and you really do need to share more substance (the core of your idea) in order to get people to work with you or invest. Most people don't want to sign NDAs just to hear about an idea, and having one generally turns people off. 

We kept hearing "it's all about HOW you execute," and I think that's very true. For example, many people had the idea of building an expansive social network to share videos, photos, etc. MySpace was one of the first companies that everyone remember, but then Facebook came along. And even though Facebook is a giant, there are still social networks that are bigger than Facebook in parts of the world (e.g in China). So even with the idea of "building a social network that lets you share photos and videos, etc," it's all about execution.

Lastly, I'll just say that the team you work with will determine the product you build, and since every person is different, every project will be different too. Your idea will have different DNA than any other project in the world. Don't worry too much about people stealing your idea because you can always learn from what they do and improve upon it / find a niche in the market they create and / or knock them out of the water. Hope that helps, and good luck!

John Lonergan Author: Antidote at Amazon

September 15th, 2016

David, there's a problem with perception about product development.  It's not about the idea.  It's about starting with something and continuously adapting it as you gather more customer experience.  Works for apps.   Works for medical devices.  This focus on the "killer idea" is a red herring.

Kushal Agrawal Co-founder at Giftxoxo.com & Frogo

September 14th, 2016

I feel ideas are like Commodity and are available everywhere free of cost. If you're an entrepreneur, you have to validate the idea using some sort of primary survey or analysis. Execution is the key and we should not shy away from discussing an idea with people. In current generation, entrepreneurs usually try to find out solutions which are pseudo issues without understanding the actual need. They try to convince themselves and people around that - "There is a Need" with poor alternatives. Entrepreneur should have guts to understand and accept failures. If you're failing then fail fast is the key. And every failure enhances your learning curve. If you really are passionate about your idea, I'm sure you will turn the world upside down and make sure your idea is executed. Market will respond basis the need and connect with people. Hope this helps!

Eric Marcoullier Partner at Cloudspace

September 14th, 2016

Simply put, if someone can execute on your idea better or faster than you, you are destined to lose anyway. Share your idea, get vital feedback, hustle.

David M

September 14th, 2016

How does an idea getting stolen increase valuation? If competitors take your idea they gain market share which decreases yours. Sure if you can create a better product afterwards it could help. But I can't think of a situation where I would wake up and think "Gee I hope someone steals my idea and screws it up so I can prove mine is better and increase my valuation." Competition is inevitable, but what entrepreneur wants someone to steal their idea? In fact one of the major questions investors ask is "Who is your competition, and how will you beat them?" Answering "Mine is better" doesn't increase your valuation unless customers believe it and buy it. And the more junk products who stole your idea, the less shelf space and revenue for you.

Maybe at the pre-launch phase where someone wants to get a similar product out to market quicker it helps with funding. But valuation is more about proven revenue, current capital structure..etc. If anything, if someone screws up your idea, it could devalue your product to investors who will see other failed products in the market and stereotype your ability to succeed based on competitors failure. Or customers experienced the failure and don't buy yours.

In trying to stretch sane logic here, I am still looking for a lightweight hose that does not kink despite the retractable hose breaking on me. But that junk takes up a lot of shelf space that keeps better products off the shelves.

Michael Barnathan

September 14th, 2016

No one is going to steal your idea before it gets traction. Ideas get stolen after they're successful, not before.

You can't defend against it, so you should warm to the idea that you'll eventually have competitors if you're successful. You can win by executing better than them.

Martin Omansky Independent Venture Capital & Private Equity Professional

September 15th, 2016

Keep silent. Sent from my iPhone

David M

September 14th, 2016

It depends on what your idea is and how mature it is and what it is.  Patents are not cheap, but they do provide some protection if you have something more significant than merely an idea.  Having said that, patents are only the first step of the process and enforcing patents can become very complex and expensive if you are selling internationally.  I would reach out to a solid patent lawyer if you think you have something great on your hands.  If it is a product, just know, it is possible your design may utilize other patents already in existence.  Even the most simplistic product can have dozens of patents.

 

Rule of thumb though:  Once you tell one person, expect the entire world to get wind of it.  So prepare with that in mind.

Suryanarayanan A Head, Incubator consulting services at Bhiveworkspace

September 14th, 2016

After you take the leap of faith how are sure a bigger gorilla is not going to come and smash you to bits. I always say share early share widely then based on the feedback implement superbly.once done keep yourself one step ahead of the competition by continuously wowing your customers that is thebest protection