Hi everyone! I'm new to the co-founder community and I am excited to meet others that are just as excited for my idea as I am. I'm curious on the ways people speak with others regarding their idea. How do you trust someone with your idea? Do you use non-disclosure agreements? Do you just rely on the conversation history through the site? I would like to hear from those that have gone through the process and the pros and cons of that experience!
NDA's are pretty standard when looking for cofounders.
VC and P/E not so much.
Early on as a founder we always feel the need to protect our idea, which is important but the truth is majority of the time no one cares about your idea unless you're executing.
Never sign an NDA without any sort of compensation. If anyone signs one, it means they have little experience in forming startups.
It's a great question and one I hear frequently when talking to people, but it also raises red flags for potential cofounders and/or investors. The issue here is that there is an implication that your idea has a value, and that value needs to be protected.
Now it could be you have come up with a new widget, have built one and believe it is patentable, in which case it may well have value and warrant some protection. Certainly in the UK, an idea cannot be patented if it has previously been made public.However, most ideas don't fall into this category, and more typically are along the lines of "Wouldn't it be great if..."
It's a good starting point, but these sorts of ideas are in abundance, what is lacking is the people who can take such an idea and turn it into a viable business - because that's what delivers the big money.
What I would recommend at this stage is to talk to as many people about your idea as possible so that you can obtain real world feedback. If you are overly protective, you will struggle to make progress.
If you don't mind I'd like to share a couple of articles I have previously written which go into this in more depth:
An NDA or no NDA? That is the question - which explains why requesting an NDA is not necessarilly a good idea
Help me, someone has stolen my idea! - which explains why you shouldn't worry if someone 'steals' your idea
Philip is spot on. Unless your idea involves something you invented or engineered that can be patented, NDAs are pointless near any early stage of a startup. Ideas are free. There is no market or cottage industry or even job title that is supported by "great ideas". That's why there are no such things as Senior Idea Analyst or VP of Ideas found anywhere. The good news is that great, good or even mediocre ideas can be converted to immense value through solid teamwork, execution, timing, positive market forces, receptive customers, etc. That's the real trick.
Ideas are worthless. Implementation is what matters the most.
Also, you have to learn to (1) run a company with extremely limited resources and (2) prioritize your time and resources.
Just do what most pre-seed startups do to protect their intellectual property.
I agree with @IOANNIS Ideas are a dime a dozen, it is execution that matters.
As an early-stage entrepreneur I was always afraid of "well if I tell someone, they are going to steal my idea!" (1) If someone is capable of not only developing your product/service, but implementing it to the point of success, they are most likely too focused on their own ideas and goals. (2) If anyone has the guts to outright steal your idea, then they run the risk of losing credibility within the startup community. This has much more drastic and long-lasting effect in their ability to reasonable navigate the world of business as you can tarnish your name.
I would suggest joining in on a TechStars Startup Weekend event, or even a 1Million Cups event. These are both platforms that entrepreneurs go to pitch their ideas in front of a huge amount of other entrepreneurs and business owners. I believe you will quickly have your fear of speaking about your ideas fade away.
At the end of the day IF in any case someone did try to steal your idea, think.. are they passionate about the business? Are they grinding and learning more about their users than you? Are they learning about what the market wants, or just running with an idea that sounds nice? In any case, they will most likely fail if they do not have the drive behind them that you have which made you come up with the idea and begin to peruse that dream.
Best of luck!