5 Answers

  1. I'll start with the legal part — if you are afraid that your idea will be stolen to such an extent that you don't even want to talk about it, you can always sign an NDA, that is, a Non-Disclosure Agreement. In fact, this is a common practice in startups and there is no problem signing it with an investor before discussing your concept. Another thing is that before reaching the stage of discussions (and signing the NDA), you need to show the investor a short presentation (teaser) and tell them about the idea in general terms. So that the investor can understand at the initial stage whether he is interested in it at all or not. Here you can ask to sign an NDA before even a “teaser presentation”, but you will already run the risk of getting rejected by the investor himself. So, without telling them anything and asking them to sign agreements right away, you will scare them away, and you will not even give them a reason to be interested in you and your project. Therefore, I repeat-it is normal to sign a non-disclosure agreement during negotiations. But before negotiations, you should still show something and tell the investor to “hook” him. And in this sense, you can always make do with a general description, which will be difficult to “steal” and use without your knowledge (for example, not to give out key aspects of a future project).

    And now let's talk about the emotional part, and in fact, this is a common mistake of most novice startups. Having come up with something, people often exaggerate the value of this concept for others. This does not mean that the idea is bad or not unique, but the problem is that the emotional attachment to it and the fears that grow out of it are more far-fetched than real. In startup accelerators, they do not stop repeating “your idea is worthless” as a mantra. And although this is not entirely true, the main message in this phrase is very correct. Since the money is actually not the “bare idea” itself, but the opportunity to implement it in principle, and bring it to success (including financial).

    A clear implementation plan, which consists of a technical part, financial planning, marketing component and much more, is one of the aspects of potential success. Believe me, there are not many investors who will want to spend their time creating even such a plan (which actually includes many different documents, analytics, and requires objective effort). After this plan, the fun begins: it's you and the team. That is, your personal ability to complete the task and “assemble” the project, as well as choose a team that will implement it with you. Investors do not dream of putting this part on their own shoulders either, since their task is also to see behind your idea the person (in your person) who can create it. And their role is to invest money, successfully, with the potential to make a profit, and not to do everything for you.

    Well, even if you imagine a hypothetical situation that some evil investor stole your idea and decided to implement it himself, remember that we are all different. It won't be able to create a project the way you see it. And it is not a fact that such an alternative project based on your idea will work at all.

    So to sum up, don't be afraid to tell investors your ideas. Just don't tell me too much in the initial stages, but enough to get you interested. And detailed planning and other really valuable materials (or working prototypes) can always be insured by a Non-Disclosure Agreement, and in the case of the latter, you can also patent your finished concept. This is expensive, but sometimes justified if, again, we are not just talking about an “idea”, but about a clear and detailed concept or even a working prototype with a unique approach.

  2. If you are afraid to tell an investor about an idea, then imagine the situation that you have implemented it. As soon as a product hits the market, many people will know about it, and the more people they know, the better. This means that the faster competitors will appear. How will you protect your idea from competitors?

    But, in my opinion, it is usually more correct not to defend an idea from competitors, but to explain to potential buyers your advantages and why it is worth buying from you, and not from others.

    I work in the IT field, where successful products are copied VERY quickly. It is estimated that clones of popular games appear within 3-6 months.

    But a well-designed promotion, product development system, the need for specific knowledge, and the complexity of development can delay the appearance of clones. This will also be one of the reasons why it will be more profitable for an investor to work with you, rather than develop an idea on their own.

    If the idea is very easy to copy, it will also be one of the stop factors for the investor, increasing his risks.

    It may not be necessary to disclose all the nuances at the start, but on the contrary, it is necessary to tell the investor about the idea. He has a lot of experience evaluating projects and you can get very valuable feedback.

  3. By the nature of my work, I often had to deal with startups. Participated in one way or another in the implementation of more than 40 projects, including those with intellectual property.

    The article “How to start your own business?” contains answers to the following questions::

    how and where to start a business?

    How do I find ideas for a new business?

    how do you know if your idea is correct?

    how can I protect an idea from copying?

    Spoiler alert: not the fact that you need it.

  4. To sell an idea, you must first either patent it or publish it, depending on what the idea is. Only after the publication of intellectual property can it be sold, donated, distributed in the form of licenses, and so on.�

    In the case of IP theft, only the presence of a patent or publication with an older date will allow you to accuse the plagiarist. If you don't have a patent or publication when your idea is discovered to have been used by third parties, then you are already a plagiarist, and from that moment on you won't be able to prove anything to anyone.

    There is also a second option, which does not imply publication – this is when you use your idea yourself, and do not tell anyone about its essence. For example, this is what the manufacturer of the wd40 lubricant does, which keeps the recipe secret. On the sale of their recipes, so far, there is no question.

    In short, you can't sell an idea without running the risk of theft, just as you can't avoid stealing an idea without taking the opportunity to sell it.

    The first excludes the second, and vice versa.

  5. You don't have a very accurate idea of the business reality )

    There are so many so-called “ideas” around potential investors that their price is a nickel for a bucket on market day. An idea has no value if you haven't taken at least the first steps to implement it: you haven't put together a team, made a sample, worked out a sales strategy, and found a potential market. For example, Gates or Tesla are not just the authors of great ideas – they are, first of all, hard workers who tied their ideas to reality.

    This is exactly why you won't be able to” sell “an idea, and why no one will”steal” it from you. Make a sane startup – then there will be something to talk about…) And for startups, there are now a sufficient number of all sorts of business incubators: although their main goal is to cut budget money )), but you can also use their presence to your advantage…

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