Brace Yourself: Competitors Are Coming
What happens when your idea is stolen?
If your hustle is strong, there’s no stopping you from working on the same idea as someone else and flying with it, succeeding where they couldn’t, it doesn’t hurt to try. An accomplished startup comes with the right mindset, experience and vision!
You can’t protect an idea once it’s on the market. You can keep your idea secret until the release but once you’ve launched the product — people will start copying it (if it’s good), iterating on it and adapting it to different industries. They will challenge your solution, improve what they think you did wrong and start stealing your users.
Hiding your idea means that people won’t be able to point out its weak points. The more people know about your idea, the more feedback you’re likely to get.
Most of the feedback will be similar but there’s always a great chance that you’ll learn something new about it and see different approaches as to how it can be utilized.
It’s not as unique as you might think, different teams are already working on it. This is a common truth for startups, your startup is probably one of several trying to achieve the same or at least a similar goal with a common idea in mind. If your team is talented, you have a better chance of success.
According to Mike Jones, CEO of Science Inc. you should work fast and launch first. He also mentions the importance of considering partnerships, definitive leadership and a well structured team but there are no silver bullets. There is no way of knowing what will work.
A non disclosure agreement (NDA) will not prevent others from doing it.If your idea really is brilliant, then NDA’s fees won’t scare people from copying your solution, it will become part of their investment. In addition, proving that somebody leaked the idea is extremely hard and in many ways, pointless. If the idea is out, knowledge of it can’t be reversed.
“My idea is so great that big companies will steal it”. Let’s take Google for example. There are thousands of brilliant people working there. They have tons of ideas. Google needs to filter out the best ones and then start working on them as soon as possible. It’s an incredibly complex process.
Do you think that having a short-list of the 100 best ideas from the top talented people a company such as Google would just give up on them and start stealing yours? They’re more likely to wait and see if you succeed. If this is the case and you’re successful, it’s likely that attempts will begin to acquire your company.
Although the appropriation of other’s ideas is common, it should be seen as a challenge, if you can do it better, if your execution surpasses the competition, then you will succeed.
Businesses are constantly sharing their company concepts with others, if they didn’t, it would be almost impossible to find clients, obtain investors or pitch new products. It is through the exposure of ideas that companies are known, discovered and recognised.
Stealth mode, or the process of hiding your idea from others can sometimes be the wrong decision, it’s by trusting others (particularly members of your team) that you can take an idea from basically nothing to a fully fledged something. It doesn’t matter how much potential or research has gone into the idea, if nothing happens, it won’t go anywhere.
“Ideas, like large rivers, never have just one source.” (Willy Ley) We develop ideas through our own experiences and through contemplating the experiences of others.
To think an individual is solely responsible for an idea and that only they can hope to conceive of it and develop it alone, is naive in itself. It takes a great team to inspire and an even greater team to flourish.
A single idea, concept or notion is similar to water, imagine a pool of water in the palm of your hand. If you keep your hand open, cupped, relaxed, the water stays in your palm. If you clench your hand tightly or begin to form a fist, the water spills out. The tighter you hold on, the more you’ll lose.
An idea is worth nothing on its own.
It requires execution, distribution and unfair advantages.
Check out this video from Google Developers, Root Access: Can startup ideas be stolen? Before Google, there was the Altavista search engine. Before Facebook, there were several others social networks such as MySpace. Was it the idea that mattered? No, it was the execution.
Many teams are working on the same ideas all the time — let’s take for example project management tools or observe the marketing product landscape. Being part of such a market — how would you differentiate one from another?
If you have the exact same product as your competitor, the one who wins is the one with the ability to gain customers faster. This is why distribution is one of the most important things. Even the best idea, whether lying inside a drawer, or stagnating in the back of your mind, is worth nothing. The worst idea could be behind a product used by millions — this is a success.
So, if the idea is worthless and distribution is a fierce battle between competitors to get customers — what’s the best way to protect the business? It comes down to unfair advantages.
We’d Love to Hear from You
What is the most unique thing you have, which your competitors can’t copy quickly? What’s your secret weapon — patent, technology — that which makes your product ten times better than all of the existing products? Who are the team behind, with their unique experience and great skillset that is difficult to find on the market? Have you ever regretted sharing an idea, or losing one? Is there anything you’d like to add, have we missed anything?
Please feel free to share your experiences with us in the comments below or via social media (send us some photos or videos too), you can find us on Medium, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest, let’s connect! To learn more about App’n’roll, take a look at out our website and our other posts. If you enjoyed reading this article, please get in touch!
All images used are CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0).