“Hey, I have a new mobile app idea and need your help!” A text message that I receive from time to time given that our team has created a few apps.
Me: “Ok no problem. Happy to help. What’s the idea?”
Response: “Well I need you to sign something saying that you won’t tell anybody before I say it”
This is a rookie mistake, that we all have made, as we fail to realize that the idea itself is not valuable. While you’re worried about your idea being stolen, rest assured that there is probably a similar product out there today.
No, you haven’t been robbed, this is actually a good thing!
Why It’s a Good Thing
As described in more detail in an earlier post, an idea is nothing but a solution to a problem. If your idea already exists, you can see how they are solving the problem and make sure that your solution will be unique! You could even talk to customers who use competing products and find out what their pain points are.
Remember you don’t need to be the only solution, you just need to be a solution that sticks![clickToTweet tweet=”Remember you don’t need to be the only solution, you just need to be a solution that sticks! ” quote=”Remember you don’t need to be the only solution, you just need to be a solution that sticks! “]
Why you should spill the beans
“Good execution is hard to find, but good ideas are cheap.” – Anil Dash
The idea has very little to do with a company being successful. Sure, it may be the spark but the execution is what fans the flame.
There may be parts of your idea that you want to keep close to the chest (a process you want to patent, etc.), but when most people ask about your idea they don’t want to know all the secrets. Investors, potential team members, and prospective customers just want to know the high-level idea and it’s important to be able to separate the secrets from an overview.
Here are a few things to keep in mind:
At some point, you may want to grow your business by raising money from outside investors — After getting some traction of course!
If you’re talking to a professional investor and you ask them to sign something like a non-disclosure agreement before sharing your idea you will be lucky if they don’t walk away and leave you standing there.
Investors hear ideas all day long and would be foolish to sign an NDA — Which is why they won’t. Here are few reasons why:
1. The investor would need their lawyer to look it over your contract meaning they would have to pay just to hear your idea.
2. Investors typically involve other investors in an investment round. If they sign your NDA they wouldn’t be able to share the details with their network.
3. Investors don’t invest in ideas, instead, they invest in a great team who can execute on an idea. This is a concept called “Team/Product Fit”. Team/Product Fit is achieved when the idea fits the team that is behind it.
For startup founders interested in raising money this is a really important concept to understand. I will carve out a whole post just to discuss this topic in depth. Click here to subscribe to our email list so that we can notify you when it’s ready![clickToTweet tweet=”Investors don’t invest in ideas, instead, they invest in a great team who can execute on an idea” quote=”Investors don’t invest in ideas, instead, they invest in a great team who can execute on an idea”]
2. Recruiting Team Members
Building a solid team is going to be a critical part of building a successful startup. Whether it’s someone that can build your app or a salesperson, you are going to need to explain the idea and get them excited about what you’re going to build.
If everything is a secret there isn’t much to get excited about.
Customers are what makes your startup idea an actual business and you’re going to want plenty of those – I mean that’s who you’re building this thing for right?! Your customers are the best group of people to give you feedback on your idea. So you want to share with them early and often.
If you attempt to hide everything then you will be too vague and your customer won’t be able to provide feedback nor will they have any interest in your product.
What to Say When Sharing Your Idea
Even though we only mentioned three types of people above, you don’t want to exclude everyone else either. At any startup networking event vendors, service providers, freelancers, etc. will ask “What are you working on”? Here are are few tips:
1. Keep it short
One to two sentences is plenty. There is nothing worse than someone asking about your idea and then regretting it because you’ve decided to let your mouth run a mile.
2. Spare the details
We’ve all been here; We think that if we are too brief, then they won’t really get it. Our excitement boils over and we think we need to tell them about every cool feature and how many people are going to love it!
Here is how the discussion should go:
Interested Person: Hey Brandon, long time no see what are you working on now?
Me: A new startup called Paver. Paver is a blog that guides minority entrepreneurs step-by-step through the product development process.
But Wait!… What about what you will do in the future? What about that other cool thing you guys are doing?
It’s best to lead with what you are doing right now and not all the stuff you will do, but then again it depends on your audience. Personally, I memorize multiple variations of my pitch and use them interchangeably depending on who I’m talking to.
3. Explain What You Do and Who You Serve
Keep it short – Check! Spare the details – Check! Now, all we need to do is explain the following:
1. What your Product Is (Blog, App, Process, Etc)
2. What your Product Does
3. Who your Product Serves
Here is an example:
1. Paver is a blog that guides minority entrepreneurs step-by-step through the product development process.
So no need to be afraid to share your idea. Just use the examples above and create a concise response and remember that ideas by themselves are not that valuable.
Do you think you should be more secretive or more open with your ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!