Why hiding your startup idea can prove detrimental to your growth

I am working on my startup idea but it is on stealth mode. It has a lot of potential and my research shows that it hasn’t been implemented yet by anyone. I am looking for team members to implement it but I fear they may steal my idea.

This is the thought process of many people,including me, when they are trying to set up their first startup. Let me tell you two things – First, most successful companies changed their ideas multiple times before they became successful. For example, Snapdeal started out as a company selling printed coupon booklets and eventually turned into an e-commerce platform.


Secondly, no one ever became successful just by stealing an idea. Some people have copied successful companies but never stole an idea from a startup. For example, Ola and TaxiForSure copied Uber’s successful business model, while Flipkart copied Amazon’s.

Why, then, would anyone want to hide their idea? They are afraid someone may filch it. Okay, who are they afraid of? Let’s see who can possibly steal your idea:

  • Co-workers
  • Friends
  • Someone thinking along the same line
  • Startup in similar domain
  • Established company

Your co-workers will not steal your idea;they may say things to demoralise you and may not have the time and, possibly, courage like you to start something. May be you can help them take the leap and start a business. They may probably fit well as your co-founder or employee that way.

But, what if they really stole my idea and rolled it out in the market before my product. Some of my co-workers are better coders than me, and they can build something in two days while I may take a week. Do not worry;startups become successful because of the passion of the founders, not just because of the capability of building a product. They may have efficiency in writing code but not the passion and vision you had when you came up with your idea.

For building a successful startup, you not only need a great product, but also hustlers for marketing and sales, internal or external capital, experienced mentors and crazy minds at work.

Your friends may or may not support you in your venture but you will have the opportunity to know how they react to your idea. Some will help you improve upon it. Some may dissuade you by regaling stories of failures and advice you on why you should,instead, focus on familyand loans, rather than starting a company. You know what to do next:spend more time with those friends who support you.

Afraid to share your idea on social media? But you got excited and shared your idea on Facebook and LinkedIn?Chances of people stealing your ideas are less even here. If someone has the time and intentionto start up a venture,he will implement his own idea, not yours.

But a startup in similar domain, can refine their idea based on my ideas. Come on!!A startup may not take chances on an idea that hasn’t been implemented yet. Startups are far more likely to add features based on customer feedback and not an idea they may chance upon, on someone’s Facebook timeline.

Established companies will not be interested in your idea as they have their own advisors, innovators and top executives to take care of ideation for their company.

In the end, startup success lies in executing the idea, not the idea itself.

Dropbox became successful despite the presence of Google Drive and other file sharing tools because they perfectly executed a simple concept, and complemented it with marketing hacks.

One can easily copy the idea behind Zomato, Housing, Flipkart and other startups that have become successful;one can copy their technology and design, but not the founders’ passion on which the company is built on.

So why hide something that you need to showcase?

There are more benefits of sharing your idea to hiding it.

  • People will give constructive criticismand help you find loopholes
  • People will appreciate your idea and you will get motivated
  • Find co-founder - If someone gets excited by your idea, he/she may join you as a co-founder rather than become your competitors. He may be having the same trouble finding like-minded people, complementary skills and a passionate team. Do you remember the Myntra-Flipkart merger? The companies joined hands because they were having complementary strengths in the same market. Myntra had mastery over fashion while Flipkart had the largest customer base and logistics. If they could join at a mature stage, it should make more sense for you joining with someone with complementary skills.
  • Find employees – Someone may have a dream of working on something that you are building but he may not have the resources to build it, or want to take the risk of starting a company. But they may be coaxed into taking a small risk by leaving their current job and joining yours as an early employee.
  • Get mentors – You don’t have to reach out to many people begging for mentorship. Just share your vision with every person you meet and people will take you under their wings, if they find you worthy of their mentorship.
  • Investors – If you are building something awesome but hiding it in your pocket then you are letting go of the opportunity to get in touch with investors. You may not get funding at the idea stage but if you showcase your passion,investors are likely to stay in touch with you. Keep them updated with the progress and it will be easy for them to take a decision at the right moment.
  • Press coverage – If you have something worthy of sharing and talking about then the media will find you and write about you and your startup.

Some tips to sharing your idea in public:

  • Social media– Write small posts on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn and get feedback from your network. Don’t worry; your company will not fire you if you are sharing your ideas and collecting feedback from your friends.
  • Quora – Ask questions about the problems you want to solve. Participate in similar discussions. This will definitely give you more insight.
  • Blogs – Start a blog and talk about your idea. If you do not have domain and expertise to setup a blog, then start with free blogging platforms like Medium.com, It works like an MVP for your blog. I started writing on medium and gradually moved to my hosted blog. If I want to start working on a new product,I will openly write my business plan along with my story, vision, fears and the opportunities that I wish to grab. This way, I don’t have to explain it to everyone; I will just share the linkto my blog and people will discuss their queries with me.

If you are convinced and willing to share your idea then I would love to discuss it with you. Write your detailed idea (Blog/Quora) and share a link in the comments. I will respond.


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