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Can I assure my idea will not be stolen?

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?

29 Replies

David C. MSE
0
0
David C. MSE Entrepreneur
CEO at Business Development

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.

John Lonergan
5
1
John Lonergan Advisor
Author: Antidote at Amazon
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.
Suryanarayanan A
1
1
Head, Incubator consulting services at Bhiveworkspace
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
Steve Everhard
2
2
Steve Everhard Advisor
All Things Startup
I don't think you should share it with anyone, especially not potential customers - who knows what they might do? Paranoia is such a debilitating condition that he stops people achieving any kind of success and leaves bitterness when someone else launches a product that obviously stole your idea - am I right?

Ryan, one of your planning moves is to think about competition, both launched and potential, and what their response might be assuming you launch a product. Think through your product/service proposition and why your approach provides a better solution than whatever your target market is doing now. If your immediate response is "but there is no competition - no one is doing this" then think again. EVERYTHING has competition as no-one is holding onto their cash until your think launches. Either they have an inadequate solution today or they are spending their money somewhere else because they haven't had their need framed by your idea.

Your competitive advantage is thinking through the delivery of your product or service, the infrastructure it has to operate in, the kind of usage models and how you make revenue. Know your strengths and how your first product more completely meets the market need. Explore those needs through social media and market research to test your assumptions and refine your ideas. Know the likely competitive response and how you can counter - remember that you are expecting them but they aren't expecting you!

Then go make it. You can talk around the needs without revealing your proposition and still get a lot of valuable feedback. Observe and ask. Then build a team you can trust and go make something. Ultimately if the only thing you have is a half formed idea then no-one is going to steal that, but they may well finish it!
Nuritzi Sanchez
3
0
Nuritzi Sanchez Advisor
Founding Member, Special Projects Manager at Endless; President, Board of Directors at GNOME Foundation
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!
Kushal Agrawal
2
1
Kushal Agrawal Entrepreneur
Co-founder at Giftxoxo.com & Frogo
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!
Jeff Gindin
1
2
Jeff Gindin Advisor
Creator of a cycling accessories
HI:

I agree with Nuritzi. NDA's can be used and a "mutual" NDA is even better in that the other person / company will feel that they are protected too. You will need an NDA for an individual and another one for a corporation. Having said all that nothing is perfect.

If you want my NDA's pleased ping me.

Best of luck.

Rachel Kaberon
0
0
Rachel Kaberon Entrepreneur • Advisor
Market Insights and Business Transformation Strategist: FinTech, Collaboration, Process Automation
First, realize that how you understand your idea is unique. No one will execute or put the pieces together the same way with the same choices. So nothing replaces the information you will get by sharing your idea with other people. You will be able to crystallize the needs, understand what others perceive are benefits and also where there's opportunities to improve on other ideas, or differentiate yourself. Remember, being first is not really the advantage everyone perceives. Greater success followed those who improved on an existing idea, becasue they were able to refine and focus on meeting the needs better!Remember Facebook followed myspace, the ipod was not the first portable player. Both were much better! Also remember that the marketplace is not just one pie in which you have to take the biggest piece. The marketplace is full of multiple pies of different flavors and sizes, your idea is one pie, but when you talk to others you may discover another pie that make be more apporpirate fit. Good luck and start talking! ? rachel kaberon [removed to protect privacy]
Jonathan Linowes
0
1
Jonathan Linowes Entrepreneur • Advisor
agile applications development - virtual, augmented, web
Chances are your idea sucks and/or someone's already thought of it. It'll only get better by talking to lots of people about it, implementing, and iterating quickly with stakeholder feedback. Only then you'll have something valuable, and hard to steal.
Eric Marcoullier
2
1
Eric Marcoullier Entrepreneur
Partner at Cloudspace
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.
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