Any suggestions on how entrepreneurs can seek out the right partners and expertise needed for a new venture, while protecting the idea?
Having developed many ideas to address different markets and opportunities, I have yet to actually launch a venture. The reasoning of late is that I have a strong accounting/finance/operational background and know my weakness is in sales/marketing and developing the actual core product/service.
I have created business plans and I am able to articulate the value propositions, however, I do not have the network or partner/capital to ever get any venture off the ground. I have a few models right now that I know would do well and provide a great return for investors, but I don't have the skill/network to actually develop the product (application/network).
Do you have any suggestions on how entrepreneurs can seek out expertise for specific areas of new venture creation while protecting the idea and how to find the right partner(s)?
Thank you for your time and consideration.
You have started fairly well by posting this question Justin, however I would advise against being so concentrated on your weaknesses. You will, by necessity, have to market your idea and business plan in the most positive light to gain genuine interest and commitment from those you seek to assist you. So stop making it known what skills and connections you lack and focus instead on promoting the promise of attractive fiscal returns for those you select to complement your skills to enhance your projects worth.
Then armed with a tight non-disclosure agreement tell them all that you can offer in any proposed alliance.
I am grateful that you take the business of finding a partner seriously. Many simply are looking for the $$ and overlook that, which really matters. It is clear that you need a business partner and an investor. While you may find them in the same person, I suggest you consider taking a two-step approach. Step one- find a partner that meets your technical needs. This is the easiest step- you know what expertise you need and you can identify candidates through a variety of means. I suggest you seek "qualified" candidates through your own trusted contacts. With the assistance of an attorney, you can prepare disclosure documents that will help these candidates assess their level of interest. You can also create documents that will limit exposure liability (this is clearly the realm of a contract or possibly a patent attorney). Those candidates who remain interested need to be vetted carefully, that is, you and they need to know if you have the potential to work well together. This process is more complex and is not suited to be addressed here. The right kind of partner (one who fills the voids and fits your expectations) will enhance your ability to attract capital investment. In the ideal case, the "right kind of partner" may also have access to the investment you seek.
As you can see, this is a multi-step process, but it is apparent that you have the patience to do it right. I wish you well, and if you like, I am very happy to discuss this with you further.
The Small Business Doctor
This isn't as hard as it seems but I understand you are protective about any potential product and your ideas. The one thing to consider is why you are approaching a particular company or investor. If you want information on what they can invest or even if they want to invest, you are going to have to at some point give details on what you are doing and what kind of product it is, there isn't really any way around this. What you have to consider is that investors are very good at what they do and their core interest is investing, not taking someone's idea and running with it. They are not interested in the actual process, more the returns and potential opportunities. The other side of it is that by approaching people in this field, it will give you priceless and valuable information and potentially put you in contact with the people you need to speak to.
Another consideration is to contact and approach a person or business that specialises in prototypes. You don't have to give all of the details away initially until you are comfortable enough to do so, but what they can give you again is invaluable. Generally, people in their required field are not interested in taking an idea but more staying consistent in their field. A prototype specialist is good at what they do and enjoys the initial stages of making that product, good enough to bring to the market, they are not so interested in selling, marketing or taking the item to market. At some point, you are going to have to place an amount of trust in people and if the worst happened and that's unlikely, it isn't so much about bringing a product to market but more how you do that which will make it successful. I hope this has helped a little.