My Idea is worth more than yours OR My secret is bigger than yours
By ashvil on 6/20/2006 8:35 AM

One of the hard lessons of my startup experience was that ideas are worth very little, It’s how you implement the idea that matters. Execution.

When I see founders hide what they are doing, I smile and think – Been there, done that.

But if the idea is not important, what’s are these folks trying to hide. If the founders are smart enough, they would be talking to everyone about their idea but talking to only a select few on how they are going to implement their idea. How you uniquely execute on the idea is what you need to protect and patent if possible. This is your secret sauce and will be what investors will pay for.

Take Jack for instance – Jack decides to go after Steve Jobs and his iPod and create the ultimate portable Media player. He silently assumes that his mini laser projection display for his Next Gen Media Player will knock the socks of the iPod. After all who would not want to see videos on a bigger screen. He and his founder buddies decide to keep the fact that they are building a Next Gen Media player a big secret. All they tell others is – we are hot startup doing something secret.

It would be better for Jack to tell others that they are building the Next Gen Portable Media Player. Others can validate their idea and give them a reality check. Jack and his buddies are now operating on their invalidated idea that adding a mini laser projection is all that is required to build the next portable media player.

If they actually would tell folks (or even ask folks what they are looking for) in a Next Gen Portable Media player they would get the following comments …

  • Bigger screen for videos
  • More choice for videos and music
  • WiFi
  • Subscription service
  • Improved battery life
  • Cell phone integration
  • Faster sync for videos and music
  • ITunes service
  • Photo slideshow
  • Games
  • etc., etc,

By keeping the idea secret, they have eliminated all the useful reality checks that they would have had and instead set themselves up for a reality shock later.

The right thing for Jack to do would have been to patent the method of Adding a mini-laser projection system as a Display for Portable Media Players or something unique and then they would not have to play these secret games.

So next time someone tells you that they are working on a hot startup but cannot reveal any details – wish them best of luck and slowly back away … 🙂