How to protect your idea

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One of the most common concerns web entrepreneurs have when dealing with crowdfunding is: “How can I protect my idea and prevent it gets stolen?”

Well, first of all, you have to know that unless you patent your idea, there is no 100% safe way to protect it. Second of all, you need to know that even if you do not own a patent, there are things you can do to increase the barriers to protect your project.

Most importantly, you need to be able to find  a good balance between the information you need to disclose with the platform users, in order to make sure they understand your project and clearly see its added value, and the information you would retain, because sharing it you would allow some people to imitate the product. There is no rule of thumb to determine how much information you should disclose and it really depends on the characteristics of your project. For example, if you are a web-entrepreneur, launching an ecommerce website, it is useful to explain to the crowdfunding community how the business model works, but you do not necessarily need to disclose who your suppliers are or what is your programming code.

If you are using equity crowdfunding, you can consider to prepare a non-disclosure agreement and have it signed by your investors. This is a quite strong barrier that would make stealing the idea very difficult and expensive. However, this method cannot be used in reward crowdfunding, because the crowdfunders, in this case, are not partners, but some sort of special customers.

In general, it is important to keep in mind when you launch your crowdfunding campaign that you are running the risk that the idea might get stolen. However, it is also wise to remember that what really matters, in the end, more than idea itself, is the execution. A great idea with a poor execution is worth almost nothing, as the graphic below shows.

 

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This post was originally published as part of Startup Europe. The European Commission’s Startup Europe initiative was created to connect web entrepreneurs across Europe, providing networks, resources and information to help them startup their business and grow, creating new jobs and transforming the economy and society.
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