Too often, I run into people who refuse to talk about their “brilliant” start-up idea because they’re afraid that someone will snatch the idea from them. I generally refer to these people as idea hoarders, or idiots. A start-up is much more than an idea. An idea is barely a starting point for building a successful business. There needs to be a sensible pain point, a usable product, paying customers, a revenue stream, etc. There are numerous other components, all of which need to be created and honed by a team of dedicated founders. When compared to the effort needed to execute all those other components, holding on to an idea is child’s play.
An component of creating a start-up that cannot be ignored is constantly getting feedback. A genius idea could turn out to be horrendous after someone points out a huge flaw in the plan that wasn’t obvious to the creator. Among the best resources at IMSA are the people that go here. We’re surrounded by a diverse collection of people that can look at an idea from a myriad of angles. Why would someone want to waste that? Usually, idea hoarders are afraid that their ideas are going to get stolen. This (pretty much) never happens. Turns out, most people don’t initially think your idea is as awesome as you do.
Despite this, some people are still uneasy with the idea of getting their thought baby yanked away from them. One solution is to just build something quickly. Building something, even if it’s just a generic landing page, gives you a head start and allows you to develop and iterate upon an idea. Honestly, just writing something down in a document should be sufficient. Having this rooted version of an idea allows rapid iteration upon the original idea whenever a piece of feedback is received. It’s likely that the idea will change every few times it’s pitched. When an idea is changing that quickly, it’s pretty hard to “steal” it.
To all the idea hoarders out there, I’d like to know more about your thought process. Do you think it’s ever justifiable to guard an idea?