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Startup Secret No. 18: Stealth is nonsense

Your secret startup idea is not as valuable as you think it is.

Rafe Needleman Former Editor at Large
Rafe Needleman reviews mobile apps and products for fun, and picks startups apart when he gets bored. He has evaluated thousands of new companies, most of which have since gone out of business.
Rafe Needleman
2 min read

"If the only thing protecting your startup is a secret, you need a new idea."

--Brian Wong, CEO, Kiip

At an extremely loud CES party (ours), the extremely energetic CEO of the game monetization company Kiip lectured me on how openness leads to happiness. The more you talk about your startup, Brian says, the more you learn. You get people who love it and want to help. You get questions you haven't considered. You get people who hate your idea -- and you learn from those discussions.

What you don't get is somebody who hears your idea, and goes off and does it before you.

Because your idea, as unique and creative as it is, is not the secret to your business' success or failure. It is extraordinarily unlikely that anybody else is going to share your passion for your concept. Nor will some random person you talk to have the whole operation in their head, as you doubtlessly do, that integrates the idea, the technological tricks you need to use, the weird social angle you think will work, and the creative way to make money that nobody's thought of.

And even if the person you're talking to knew all this stuff, it bears repeating: They don't have your passion. They have a passion for something else. Just watch their response to your idea, and then ask them what their startup idea is (or if you're talking to an VC, what their favorite investment is). See the excitement ramp up? See how much more time they spend talking about their Plan B than listening to your idea? That's what they're going to do next. People are highly unlikely to give up on their secret idea to steal your secret idea.

Startup Secrets is based on personal interviews with people building companies and from their blog posts and news stories. Subscribe to Startup Secrets on Twitter or come back to Rafe's Radar every day for a new one. See all the Startup Secrets.