We speak with a ton of idea stage entrepreneurs through StartupGiraffe. Many times, people think we’re going to “Zuckerberg their Winklevoss” and steal whatever brilliant ideas they have. Because of this, they speak in generalizations and vagaries (it’s like LinkedIn meets Yelp for Healthcare with Farmville-style gamification). Unfortunately if you don’t tell us the details and motivations behind your project we can’t give any feedback or really figure out if working together is possible. We feel that you should not only tell us your ideas but share them with others too. Here’s why:

Talking is the Easiest Way to Get Feedback

The whole Lean Startup movement is about validated learning. You want to accomplish as much learning, as quick as possible with the least amount of effort. The easiest way to do this is by talking to trusted people.

Validation of the Problem Space

You need to find out if this is really a problem that other people have. While you may think it’s obvious that everyone would want to rate and review their pet food, that might not be the case. Research and fall in love with the problem not your solution. Find people who feel the pain most acutely, they will be the most enthusiastic about describing their troubles and why current solutions don’t suit them.

Developing Relationships with Early Cusotmers

Mark Suster talks about investing in Lines not Dots. He doesn’t want to invest in a single meeting with you, he wants to understand how well you work over time. There is a strong parallel here between getting early customers for your startup. The more you check-in, listen to feedback and demonstrate progress the more likely early customers will advocate and stick with you.

Here’s the #truth. No one is going to steal your idea.

Everyone has their own “Great Idea”

While your idea might seem brilliant to you, until you validate it/show traction/make money, it’s just another idea. Everyone has their own set of problems and set of experiences. In Eric Reis’ new book The Lean Startup, he suggests trying to take your (third) best idea and trying to find someone to steal it. Write blog posts , email product managers at Google and Facebook, go to meetings, tell everyone! Everyone’s busy with their own priorities and ideas, no one has time for yours.

Domain Expertise and Execution Matter

If someone can steal your idea based on a 30 minute conversation your idea is not defensible. Most likely you bring some secret sauce to the table (knowing the vertical really well, knowing people in the industry that you can sell to, etc…). You’ve been thinking about this problem/solution for weeks and months, it keeps you up at night, you get all hot and bothered just thinking of the potential. Anyone who steals your idea will always be one step behind, waiting for you to lead the way while they copy features. Your experience, execution and vision matter as much as your idea.

You will have Competitors

If your idea is based on the convergence of multiple trends (i.e. daily deals, group messaging, check-ins, photo sharing, etc…) there are likely multiple people with the same exact idea at roughly the same time. Regardless if you start to show success you will have competitors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as it validates the space, creates competition for funding and creates buzz/pr/publicity.

Anything I missed? Any reasons why you still don’t want to share your ideas?

Related posts:

  1. Steal this Product Idea #3: Get Together
  2. Steal This Product Idea #4 – CricketFaceoff.com
  3. The Top 6 Mistakes Idea Stage Entrepreneurs Make
  4. Steal this Product Idea: Sign.al
  5. Deciding Between Startup Ideas