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?
Keep your idea close to your chest. Research it first until you know whether it's great or not.
I think after modeling your business, raising key issues, possible problems, you should try an experiment. Before you run this experiment make sure you target your audience first (who probably you will give an honest feedback). Try a online survey to identify as many key issues as possible. Do not make a website/blog with all possible or conceivable features. Try to get things done by a simple process. Protect your IP running small experiments divided into parts. Good luck and send me news.
Don't make the mistake of hesitating with a new idea for fear of losing it. Even if you are unable to proceed with it immediately, begin doing the ground work etc for it as if you did.
I have a great idea, and although the resources required are not in place at the moment, I keep developing the idea, improving it and testing it, so when everything is ready, a lot of the hard work or proof of concept work is done.
I will take a different angle here based on my own experience (start-up founder and lawyer.) Your gut tells you that you cannot share your idea too much because someone might take it. That is a logical fear. However, most successful start-up founders will tell you that they gained more by being open and sharing than by being closed and secretive. You cannot let the fear of a stolen idea stop you from moving forward - which is what it is doing now. For all you know someone is already working on your idea or something similar. Right not you need speed - learn if your idea in unique, actionable, and if you have the resources to make it real. Worry about the big details later - you can talk about your concept without disclosing the actual IP.
My suggestion - find a Startup Weekend (startupweekend.org) event near you and go pitch your idea. BTW you just missed the London SW but i am sure there are other nearby in the near future.
If not SW - find a start-up orientated co-working space or better yet a start-up accelerator or incubator near you. They typically have great folks to talk things through with.
Last of all remember that an idea in and of itself is worthless -everyone has them. It is what you do with it that makes it valuable. So own it and do not be afraid of someone taking it away. I they do then you were not the right one to launch it or you can still proceed and do it better than them. Being a market-maker can create huge burdens that a fast follower can capitalize on.
Mary-Alice is right, you can keep your "secret sauce" (such as a unique software engineering method or scheme), but share almost everything else to get feedback (and even good ideas you never thought about).
For instance, I have a software company developing an AI system to train entrepreneurs. I launch Free Business Academy to offer FREE training to entrepreneurs, and ask people for feedback on that.
I'm sure about my AI system, but not sure about what entrepreneurs need, how much they'd pay to have their own AI system running their biz, etc. So I ask everybody for feedback!
Personally, I'd be hesitant to put any idea on the web, even if I didn't think it was a great one. All it takes is one person with talent and money/resources to compete with you and take it.
However, whether I'd share the idea also depends on how unique/good I think it is. If my idea was something like "Create a pizza shop with fresh tomatoes instead of canned tomatoes," I'd be fine with sharing this publicly because there are tons of closely related companies. But if I was Larry Page or Sergey Brin (founders of Google) in the late 90's, I'd be privately rushing to build a prototype to give me a headstart on the competition.
I'll also agree with Mary that execution is ultimately the most important thing. But in the early going, sometimes execution is limited by resources. So if you don't have funding, keeping it private or with trusted friends/family might be the way to go.
Thanks! I've talked to trusted friends and colleagues and got a general, positive feedback. Thing is that may not be qualified enough and I'd need advice from pros in the field.
@Mary-Alice it's a good idea to start small with a beta-version, but that woud mean already investing time and resources. I'm still one step before that: is the idea good enough to invest any more time? I've not found anything similar yet because it's so good that nobody thought about that or is it so bad that nobody would even consider it? Or, I simply haven't looked properly?
@Brooks I do have my small "board of advisors", but all work on media, which is the industry I'm in, very different from the idea I'm thinking of. I'm aware of the risk, but what's the point keeping ideas in a drawer for so long, just waiting for the day you read it on the papers? Would you take the risk just for the sake to see it happen, one way or another? Maybe I should just post an abstract on my blog and see what happens. It's called Ideas Open Source, so maybe I should truly fulfill the promise... Not sure I'm ready though
Thanks for all ideas and suggestions. I will try first to talk to somebody from the industry. People I've approached in the past were not really helpful, so I'll look again.
Then I will look for a startupweekend in London (I heard there was an event a few weeks ago) or the Google Campus. Funny enough the Campus is open Mon-Fri 9am-6pm which is exactely my working hours: I should take a day off to go there...
I will also investigate an incubator thru my university and the Alumni association and see if I can picth there,
Time, more than money, is my scarce resource and I'm really far from quitting my job to try this full time.
I have to say I'm still tempted to put it on my blog (which is very small by the way) and share it, hoping to get good and honest feedback.
Great question. You need feedback to validate your idea. To make sure there is a big enough pain and the solution is ultimately something people will pay for. You can only get this feedback by talking to others. That said, how you talk about it and to whom is always a big question when starting out. You don't need to give away your secret sauce, but can often talk to people about the problem and the general solution (keeping specifics out of the initial discussion). Depending on what your idea is and how specific or general you frame the discussion may impact who you talk too. If you really need to get into specifics, then you may want to start with a small group you know and trust. If you can keep it a bit broader, then get feedback more broadly. With my idea, I initially reached out to a group of people I knew, then I started building a small beta site and invited a larger group (but still targeted mostly people I knew) and once I got additional feedback from this beta group, I launched more broadly. At the end of the day, ideas are the easy part. It's executing on those ideas that is hard. And you need to go out and talk to people to make sure your are working on the right solution to the right problem. Last, but very important, if intellectual property is potentially involved, always consult an IP lawyer first so you don't lose any IP rights. Best of luck!
Open web or blog is most likely to get it stolen by the first few people that can figure put how to monetize this. Do you have a trusted circle of advisors? Maybe a few bright business people that are objective and too busy loving what they do to mess with taking your idea? I know some people have put together a personal, "Board of Advisors," for just this type of reason.