Can we Steal Your Idea?

This is a good question and we were asked this question indirectly by only one startup so far. We would like to quote Paul Graham from his essay on startup’s beginning:

An idea for a startup, however, is only a beginning. A lot of would-be startup founders think the key to the whole process is the initial idea, and from that point all you have to do is execute. Venture capitalists know better. If you go to VC firms with a brilliant idea that you’ll tell them about if they sign a nondisclosure agreement, most will tell you to get lost. That shows how much a mere idea is worth. The market price is less than the inconvenience of signing an NDA.

We believe in what Paul says about NDAs. It unnecessarily adds a barrier to entry for our process. However, I was once talking on Reddit with someone who has experience in building products (non-tech such as plush toys) and he said the following:

There is a difference between pitching an idea and fully disclosing details of the idea (something which you ask for). Feedback is more brainstorming whereas the details your asking for should require an NDA. This is standard industry advice. I feel like more people would be willing to work with you if you allowed them to sign an NDA with you (Google’s is, I think, less than 5 pages long) and told them what you expected out of this transaction/ how your company operates.

I believe his advice comes from the industry of tangible products where an idea can be (easily) stolen as there are far few moving parts. A tech startup, however, depends on the execution and cannot be copied from a prototype. We recommend entrepreneurs not to worry about their ideas getting stolen as everyone has ideas and those ideas are always better than others. If a person decides to seriously do something about an idea, they would work on their own ideas first by human nature. But if you think you have a good reason to have an NDA signed, we do not mind signing it. Be forewarned though, it usually raises a red flag on how much you know about entrepreneurship.

Dinesh Agarwal is an academician turned entrepreneur. He got his Ph.D. in Computer Science from Georgia State University where he also started his first venture Bookup to help students save money on college textbooks. He is also the founder of Pro Start Me, a service for entrepreneurs to realize their tech based ideas into products. Got a great idea? Let us talk