E-Commerce · Fullstack Developer

How do I find a partner for a E-Commerce company if I am too scared of the idea getting stolen?

Brett Gardner Serial Entrepreneur

May 23rd, 2016

I have a new way of conducting sales online that will revolutionize multiple industries. I have done all the work to build the business plan (market analysis, competitive analysis, profit analysis, and even began wire-framing the site we would start with.).

Because the profit analysis shows 588mil/yr gross profit on just ONE industry (without accounting for profit from advertisements and taking no profit from sales) I am too afraid to reach out. I am not greedy and would love to partner with someone who has a background in e-commerce and full-stack-engineering.. I just don't know how to protect my idea. It feels too big to talk about

Brett Gardner Serial Entrepreneur

January 13th, 2017

@everyone Just a heads up, since posting this I took the advice and went out on a limb. I pitched the idea at a Techstars Startup Weekend event and won 1st place! The second I got off the stage I was surrounded by VC stating "Stay here in San Antonio, build the company here and you have funding." I was shocked!

I quit my job as an engineer 2 days later and went full time on this new venture. That was in September 2016. Since then we (my team of now 12) have built out a manual beta version, gained traction and are preparing to accept funding for our seed round of investments :) In just 2 weeks of launching our manual beta we have already secured hundreds of dealerships as well as multiple paying customers. Take in mind that this was just supposed to be a manual test to validate the model so we could justify spending money to develop the software, we were in no way prepared for the overnight adoption.

Without the nudge from you guys/gals I would not have taken that leap to talk about my company.

Long story short, Thanks.

Jessica Alter Entrepreneur & Advisor

May 23rd, 2016

There are probably 20 discussions on "stealing ideas" on FD already so please do a search but more importantly, no one is going to steal your idea.  You should be much more concerned with getting someone to care about your idea.
Here's more on it >> http://founderdating.com/startups-and-shark-attacks/

Tom Austin

May 23rd, 2016

The best way to 'protect' your idea is to build a strong organization and team around it and execute it really, really well and get lots of customers using it.  That's the only way.  To have the best shot at doing this, you have to TELL EVERYONE (apart, potentially from existing direct competitors - whom you may tell, but need to be thought more carefully about).  If you sit with your idea and tell no one, you have an idea in your room, not a business.  Almost everyone you tell about your business will not care, and some may have ideas for you to make it better, and a very, very small number may actually want to help.

Mookie Lee VP at OnDerm

May 23rd, 2016

Ideas are a dime a dozen. It's all about executing on the idea and surrounding yourself with people who can propel the business forward. I've heard a lot of great ideas but most people do not act on them or execute poorly. It's common for most beginning entrepreneurs to hold their ideas close to their chest - trust me, no one is going to quit their day job to steal your idea and if they do, competition breeds innovation and most likely how you envision the business will be different from how they do. As for NDA's, they're extremely hard to enforce and any sophisticated investor will not sign one.

James Michels Founder at Present Future, Inc.

May 23rd, 2016

If the idea is really good, it's wise to assume others have thought of it as well. If no one has attempted to execute the idea, you want to understand why. And suppose the idea gets 'stolen' *and* beats you to market? Now you're in a battle to out-execute the comp, which was inevitable anyhow. 

Maybe a bit off topic, but direct competitors often help more than hurt. They can help validate the market opp to investors, prove or disprove hypotheses you currently hold, and light a fire under your team to beat their rival.

Agree with comments from Emmanuel, Jessica, and Tom. Just trying to encourage you to consider this from multiple angles.

Steve Everhard All Things Startup

May 23rd, 2016

Bret I tend to agree with Chicke, although you are saying over what period your gross profit forecast reaches 588M/yr (US$??). You need someone you trust with the right skills to review your numbers before you present them to any potential partners as I suspect there are some major assumptions in your plan that need to be tested and some errors in calculation. 

 Frankly you aren't about to begin to build a company to cope with this volume of business without trusting some people with incredible skills who can bring it to life, and it will take a number of years to do so. 

 If your business plan is so fragile that merely surfacing the idea will destroy your business then you need to look again at your business model. Competition validates the market and does;t destroy it, and if you're even half right about the business potential and you grab early mover advantage you would still end up with an amazing business.

Brett Gardner Serial Entrepreneur

January 14th, 2017

@David Thank for the support! I would love to give some feedback.

Q1: The idea was already out there (not exact but either way, my assumptions changed once I tested it with REAL customers)

Q2: We do have a legal team who is protecting our proprietary information (things we've learned since) but no we didn't protect the idea, not before disclosing at the competition.

Q3: Ideas only matter in the sense of, it needs to make sense (to be a viable business) but beyond that.. it truly is all about execution.

Just because I won a business competition based on an idea, that means nothing.. I had to my amazing team, we all quit our jobs to work 7 days a week 12-16 hours a day for 3 months before ever launching even our manual beta. There have been 5+ companies that tried to do something similar and have failed miserably, it was truly about execution, smart spending, timing and a little bit about luck.

I would love to share my experience in depth with anyone who would be interested. Feel free to reach out.

Chicke Fitzgerald 𝗘𝗻𝗴𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗺𝗲𝗻𝘁 𝗲𝘅𝗽𝗲𝗿𝘁 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮 𝗳𝗼𝗰𝘂𝘀 𝗼𝗻 𝗴𝗶𝘃𝗶𝗻𝗴. 💡 I zig where others zag #͏z͏i͏g͏w͏i͏t͏h͏c͏h͏i͏c͏k͏e

May 23rd, 2016

And sounds like you need some advisors to give you a "sanity check" on the numbers. If they seem "too big", there is likely something that you are missing.

Jay Hang Startup founder

January 14th, 2017

Congratulations Bret, saw your story here:


Fun to read what had happened in your world in the past 9 months! :-)

Sarah Stefaniuk Localist and Founder LOCALMOTIV

January 18th, 2017

This is a great story Bret. You have inspired me as I am in a similar situation that you were in - afraid to share my good idea but know I have to to get it launched. I need a great team to get my project launched. Thank you!