Talk about your startup idea – Do or Don’t?

So, you have a world-changing, industry-disrupting, multi-billion dollar potential idea. You’re working on it secretly in your basement and think you’ve got gold in your hands. There is this point in time a startup founder finds himself (or herself) at a cross-road: am I going to pursue this idea or not? With the decision to get going with the idea, comes another decision. Who am I going to tell about it? Are you going to talk about your startup idea, or will you be secretive about it?

This is a decision that seems to be kind of a thing in the startup community. I recently met multiple people on startup and social events, that after eagerly hearing me out about my startup and my learnings, answered my question on what they were working on with “oh I cannot talk about that, it’s still a secret”.

To be honest, I was annoyed. Very annoyed.  Why come to events, get information from other people and then not willing to talk about, let alone pitch your idea? I decided to take a closer look at this and I came across 3 main reasons why people are being so secretive about their idea. In this blog I will explain why, from my point of view, these reasons do not make sense and on top of that, will list 5 reasons why you SHOULD talk about your startup idea 🙂 Enjoy the read!

3 Reasons why you don’t talk about your startup idea

1. You still have a full-time job and don’t want your boss to find out
People fear that the companies they are currently working for will disapprove, deny them promotions or even fire them if they find out that someone is pursuing another idea outside of their current job.

  • I think it sometimes makes sense to not talk about it your direct colleagues if you still have a full-time job. I also was not shouting from the roofs what I was going to do before I officially resigned. However, I have been very surprised with the support of my previous colleagues. If you work for a company that values people’s development, encourages entrepreneurship and has an open culture, you will be more than able to pitch your idea with your colleagues. Although they may not be happy to see you leave, they will support you in your wish to become an entrepreneur. They may even end up being your first customers!

2. I am afraid people will criticize my idea
So your product is not finished yet and you’d rather not show it to anyone? You’re shy about saying you made the move to entrepreneurship? Or you are afraid of what people will think?

  • If you are afraid of this, get over it soon! If you want to succeed as entrepreneur you will have to start dealing with the haters, critics and people who simply don’t believe in you!

3. Other people will steal my idea
The new idea is so brilliant and innovative that if you talk about it, you are afraid it will be stolen.

  • Most people have no clue what you’re talking about
    If your product is really that disruptive and complex, at least 75% of the people will have no clue what you’re talking about. On top of that, you can easily keep it superficial and only tell the general idea and leave the technologies or your competitive edge to yourself.
  • People are not interested in or will have no time/resources to replicate it
    Most people that would see potential in your early-stage idea, would be entrepreneurs themselves. And with that, probably too busy with their own adventures to worry about yours
  • See competition as a validation of your idea, not as a threat
    So, you are afraid your idea will get stolen. If it’s a great idea, of course people will try to copy it. However, by having the idea first and hopefully already a MVP, you should have a major head start to the competition. Just make sure you do it better, faster, leaner, smoother and whatever adjective you want to add to this list. accessART’s competitive analysis list already comprises about 100 direct and indirect competitors. Does this scare me? Of course it does. Does it prove there is a market? Yes it does! Would there be such huge investments in an industry that has no potential? They key to this industry is that there is no big winner yet – we’re not fighting for a piece of the pie, but the pie is increasing every year. So we have taken a niche and focus fully on certain things that are not there yet.

    If you don’t believe me (or don’t agree with me 😉 ), what about Erik Ries from the Lean Startup:“Part of the special challenge of being a startup is the near impossibility of having your idea company, or product be noticed by anyone, let alone a competitor. In fact, I have often given entrepreneurs fearful of this issue the following assignment: take one of your ideas (one of your lesser insights perhaps), find the name of the relevant product manager at an established company who has responsibility for that area, and try to get that company to steal your idea. Call them up, write them a memo, send them a press release-go ahead try it. The truth is that most managers in most companies are already overwhelmed with good ideas. The challenge lies in prioritisation and execution, and it is those challenges that give a startup hope of surviving.” 

5 Reasons why you should talk about your startup idea

1. Get validation of your idea
Get your idea out there, test it with your potential customers and get feedback. However, this is definitely necessary before you start spending money/building your product. You will get lots of negative feedback over the course of setting up your company and people will full on criticize what you do. Take this feedback as it comes, take the useful feedback and start using it.

2. Find co-founders
In one of my first articles as a startup founder, I wrote how finding a cofounder can be a validation of your startup idea. If you don’t get your idea out there, it will be hard to find someone who can join you as a co-founder 🙂 .

3. It’s not about the idea, it’s about how fast you get it on the market
Don’t be afraid new entrepreneurs will steal  your ideas. By the time you start talking about your idea, most potential competitors will at least be a couple of months behind you. You will have done your research, validated your idea with potential customers, (should) have built your MVP and maybe even found your early adopters. Get it on the market, soon 🙂 .

4. Create partnerships
One of the most important things when launching a business for the first time is goodwill. Do people like you? Do they support your idea? How are you ever going to grow this crucial group of people that are going to help you spread the word? If you’re going to be secretive about your idea it will be very hard to find partnerships. Talk about your startup idea to meet interesting people and share knowledge!

By pitching our idea at startup events, we met a VR programmer who helped us create a Virtual Reality Art Gallery! We could have never done this without his help and he would have not met us if we wouldn’t have spread the word about our product.


5. Learn to pitch If you want to be successful, you will have to be able to pitch your story in such a way that anyone can understand it. If you don’t talk about your product, how are you going to learn? Basically, you have to be able to explain your concept and product and transfer your passion in such a way that people ranging from your grandmother to potential investors will understand it.

Are you going to talk about your startup idea?

To conclude, timing is everything. Finding the right time to start talking about your startup idea is crucial. Too early, and you may find out you are not ready to start facing competitors. Too late, and you may not benefit from all the advantages mentioned above.

What do you think? Will you talk about your startup idea?

 

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