My question is regarding intellectual property in the tech field and VC start-up: You wrote that at the pre-funding stage, all you need is a couple of slides / mock-ups. Even if you don’t know your target customer directly you can get to them. How do you ensure, if you are sharing your idea, that it won’t be stolen and copied before you get the funding needed to launch it yourself?
This is a common concern. You don’t want to share your idea for fear that someone will steal it. My feeling is that ideas are not where the value is. I thought of Yammer a few months after I got on Twitter (and long before Yammer was born) and I did nothing about it. There is zero value in that.
My response to this reader was the following:
Ideas are useful, but it’s all about execution. I actually think you benefit more from sharing your idea than otherwise. If you share it and people nod their heads, you know you’re onto something. If they don’t, you should pause to ask yourself “why”.
I don’t propose that you be reckless with your ideas, but don’t hold back on sharing them if it will help you refine your thinking and/ or secure capital.
On that note, investors will not sign NDAs.
Finally, speed is key. If you are worried about your idea getting out there, then the faster you can get your idea funded and in market the better.
So, if you have a startup idea, don’t be shy about sharing it. It will refine and improve your thinking (either in terms of making the idea stronger or confirming that it is a bad idea). It also creates some momentum around your project. Finally, I think that the spreading your idea and intention creates some positive social karma out there. People start rooting for you. Put you in touch with people that can help. It’s all good.