To attract talent, investors, partners and good feedback, I need to share my vision, but there is always a risk that someone will steal my idea. How open should I be prior to launch?
This is a problem countless founders face. They have a great idea, but they need to share it with lots of people, some of them potential competitors, in order to get it off the ground. I’ve been in the situation many times myself, and here’s my question to you. What’s the biggest risk you actually face? Is the chance of someone stealing your idea a major risk? From what I’ve seen, the biggest risk most founders face is running out of money, time and motivation before their product even launches.
In most cases, the chance of someone you talk to stealing your idea is very small. The fact is that most people are so wrapped up in what they’re doing at the moment that they can’t move quickly enough to capitalize on even the best new idea. You’re lucky to get them to join your team or invest in you if they really believe in your idea.
Of course, this isn’t always the case, but it’s a matter of weighing the risks involved. Startups are fraught with risk. It’s just the nature of the beast. The fact is that the majority of founders tend to give up on an idea before anyone has time to steal it. And if you really want to worry about something, there probably is someone in Stockholm right now with exactly the same idea and that’s your real competitor — you just don’t know about that person yet.
Instead of worrying about someone copying your idea, which will happen inevitably (if it’s any good), you should focus on building your business as quickly as possible. That’s your best defense. Without a business it doesn’t matter if someone pilfers your idea because you won’t be around to compete with them. Also, execution is the hardest part. The idea is only 10% of what it takes to make your company succeed. The other 90% is how you execute. So again, if you factor in all the risks, someone stealing your idea is probably less than 1% of the total risk your startup faces.
As a precaution, you can ask potential employees, investors and strategic partners to sign an NDA. Many investors will refuse to sign NDAs, but you can ask politely if you’re really worried. I hope this helps!