New business idea: should I put it on the open Web?
Say I have this new bus idea, not sure whether it's great or not. Should I put it on the open Web on my blog? Would I get honest feedback, maybe support or would it simply get stolen?
Hi Luca. Of course you get feedback from a wider audience. But do you need? Probably you get better suggestions from people in your (direct) enviroment. Create your own focus group. Then you have more continuity in subsequent steps.
If you are wanting to "test the market" to see if your idea has a market - your blog would be a good place only if your readers were the likely target audience for your idea.
If you do post it "out in the open" for all to see - I wouldn't put much stock in the results, whether they were positive or negative. Furthermore, unless you have some way to profile the respondents, it may not be all that helpful.
I'm not sure what kind of support you are hoping for but if it's much beyond the "atta boy' level, I would be surprised.
Consider the following approach:
1 Define the "problem" you intend to solve.
2. Define who you think has the problem
3 Decide where & how to approach them
4 Do so to see if you can get validation that they have the problem
Using this approach, you don't (shouldn't) discuss your solution/ idea - so it can't be easily stolen.
Hope this helps. If you want to discuss your specific situation, feel free to contact me directly.
The better the idea the greater the chance it will be stolen. Additionally, the lower the threshold of barrier to entry, the greater the temptation to "borrow" the idea. The best approach may be to vett the idea with a focus group of local entrepreneurs OR seek out a university-based incubator where you may be able to discuss the idea in a somewhat confidential environment.
Never!. You should discuss it with people you trust until it becames an idea than it's very dificulte to copy.
Here's a tip from NYU Stern where I coach MBA candidates on startups. Candidates are encouraged to market test their ideas with 'man-on-the-street interviews that lead to commitment in the for form of an email for more information, a donation of some nominal amount to support the idea, or signing a form stating their interest.
The idea is posed as a what if....in the case of Pinterest, born at NYU, the question was posed as: what if there was a platform where you could post pictures about your interests....for example, books, flowers, fashion, videos, etc. The students received email addresses as a form of commitment to the concept.
It's the concept of the idea that you want to market test first.
This past summer, I conducted a market test on Linkedin on the topic of career. The real secret sauce in this format is gathering the pain points of what's missing in the market place where you learn where you can fill in the gaps.
This is not scientific, but it does result in real world response from which you can craft your business plan.
Personally I am not a fan of posting the idea either in an open Web on you blog.
The other avenue you might explore is interviewing the people you think are in your target market and pose questions as what if.
May I recommend Disrupt by Luke William who lays out exactly how to test ideas in live markets.
You can also research LinkedIn answers which I did and discovered my idea was not compelling, which led to a refined concept, launching in 2 weeks.
You will receive honest feed back on your idea and concept and much unsolicited advice on what the listener would want to have, use or own.
By the way, everyone here gave you really good insight and advice. So I thought I'd add my two cents too. :)
Hope this helps.
Luca, I am a serial entrepreneur. When you get an idea YOU believe in, study it, research for similar ideas (Google?), put the fear of succeeding or not away - there is no place for fear as an entrepreneur. If you never fail, nor will you succeed if you never try. When you have tossed every facet of your plan back and forth like a big piece of bubble gum for weeks or months, even years, contemplate problems, staffing, end product, etc. but don't panic, just prepare from beginning to end. Owning your own business is no different than having a baby. You will plan; plans will change - be ready. Know your product. Once you OWN it in your heart, register the name you choose for your new business and sign up with your local Municipal Building, and an LLC group. You can find one here on the Internet. Legal Zoom. I am not sure if they cover Australia, but they can direct you. None of this is expensive. With all of this belief in yourself, pick a website maker. Tell the world what you have to offer. Remember the economy slump and make your service more than reasonable. Google offers a free website. Wordpress will put you on the map. Facebook is doing a fantastic job at getting into the website business. Set a timeline for the amount of money you want to invest in your fame and fortune. I set 3 years for my first business. If I was not making a profit by then, it was time to find employment again. So your budget is something to study closely in the beginning. Just do it, Luca. Fear is what stands between all business men/women and entrepreneurship. Kitty Kelso p.s. Good Luck, keep me posted. Ask questions. I am in the process of starting a new venture at LI and FB. I am drawing on my wall. I think big. It's in my blood. You can do this. ....
Two things to consider:
#1 Consider ability to patent and protect your idea once you share it. I am not sure of the patent laws in Europe, but in Australia you are NOT supposed to divulge your idea to anybody before you patent it (excluding where NDA and confidentiality agreements exist). Doing so is crossing the threshold of making your idea public and therefore not being 'revolutionary'.
#2: On the idea of startup weekends & pitch events, personally I am cautious on this. Getting together in a room full of entrepreneurs who build businesses from viable ideas, who have networks of capable teams to deliver these ideas and then telling this group your 'unprotected' idea... that just seems like a recipie of circumstances to avoid, in my personal opinion.
Adopt the lean startup approach.
Use a business model canvas http://bmfiddle.com - the canvas will be your your scorecard as you develop your idea.
Start with blocks 1 and 2 - value proposition and customer segments.
The items on the canvas are all really guesses. So once you have them on the canvas you need to validate them - turn guesses in facts by proving them true or false. You do this with tests.
Depending on the nature of your idea it may be viable to create a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) with which to test (a prototype version with limited features).
Tests can also be a simple webpage with information and "sign up" form to gauge interest. Validating by talking to potential customers etc.
Update the canvas as you get results and add new "guesses".
This approach will minimize waste/costs and get you to a working solution quicker.
If you want it stolen, copyrighted, or trademarked by someone else. Your best bet initially is to perform some market research to determine it will will fly in the market and if someone else has a similar one. If you want more info about protecting ideas, contact me.
Clearly, the answer is "it depends". If someone that visits your site perceives that idea is good, he's got right abilities to do it, and that you are unlikely to make any quick progress, yes you will get stolen. From other people you might get honest feedback.
Generally, I wouldn't recommend going to web before you have something more than just conceptual ideas, the later you go the more likely you will receive only the benefits and not the problems.
Why don't you go a step ahead!!??
research about your idea a bit more,
write a brief,
record a video
and upload to kickstarter.com!!?
There you will have basically two important things, feedback and money to start a prototype or right the business... and as a plus possible help
I would do this, in fact.....I'm doing this!
Wish you the best and as some others said DON'T HESITATE! in a creative process you will ALWAYS think at some point that your idea is not worthy enough, is natural just FORGET! that thought and keep going....
I would first talk to people in your network, friends, colleagues etc., people you can trust.
I wouldn't worry too much about others stealing your idea. For example, I heard a very successful business person give a speech where he said that he has so many great business ideas that he can't possibly implement them all. They're still great ideas so he shares them when he speaks to audiences of about 5,000 people. He said that, on average, of those audiences, maybe 2 people do anything with the idea.
And everyone will implement a new idea differently. Three people may start companies that solve the same problem in generally the same way. All three can be successful (and possibly work together) if they're targeting different niches or are very conscious of their branding (companies that don't do this generally aren't very successful).
Putting an idea on your blog may or may not help, depending on your readership and why they read your blog. I agree with Joshua to get involved in your local startup community. Talk to experts at starting similar companies (serial entrepreneurs, investors) and listen to their advice. At this point, don't talk to lawyers and the like who can strangle a great idea before it's ever hatched.
If you have a good idea and want to lose it, then share it on the internet.
If your idea is good and you want to protect it, consult with a patent lawyer.
And then share it, but only with people you trust.
If you make it public, you have to expect others may adopt it as their own, so clearly you need to tread with caution. If there is anything remotely resembling IP in your idea, then absolutely not.
If feedback is what you are after, approach your close network, armed with an NDA if necessary, and get them to let you know what they think.
You will probably find out, that all of it may happen simultaneously.
It depends, how big it really is. If you suspect it is not that big you may want to float it to make it better, if it is big, I would only do it if it benefits from network effects. Most ideas get commoditized on Internet. It's the big flattener.
Luca, I just went through this myself. I have found more people willing to help than wanting to steal my idea. My product was very time sensitive, (mobile app for car dealers) and although there was competition, it was unique in its ability. Someone else touched on the bigger issue. Ideas are the easy part, don't under estimate what it really takes to get to market. It may seem incredible and simple to you but conveying that message at a profit is the real challenge.