Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) refers to software whose source code is freely available for modification and redistribution. Typically open source projects tend to have strong communities of programmers, developers and most importantly, uses backing them, and it is this community support which ultimately drives these initiatives to succeed. Open Source Software can be found virtually everywhere, from programming languages like Python, the Mozilla suite of applications, the Git version control system and the largest collaborative project in computer history, the Linux kernel.
Moreover, since the code is open source, it is visible to all, which presents a potential threat that a competitor may use it to their advantage. If your startup requires confidentiality in its operations, for e.g. A financial or e-commerce startup, open sourcing the whole code is a bad idea as you are compromising on the security of your customers. (Even Mozilla, one of the biggest proponents of Open Source Software, does not release information about its security bugs for obvious reasons)Implementing deadlines may not be easy as many of the people working for you may be working remotely, on a volunteer basis. Things like documentation and translation are tasks which are not very popular with the community, and get people to take up these tasks will present a challenge as well.
Open Source can be suited very well to certain kinds of startups and can be a great way to popularize your idea early on. Having a community will only propel your initiative to greater heights, but it’s important to keep in mind some of the potential pitfalls. One needs to be really careful and if you manage to do that there's every possibility of making it big like a RedHat which brings home more than a billion in revenues. One can always open-source after launching, and there is a strong business model in place which is independent of code, it is worth going for.
What are your thoughts?