In this episode, we talk about why it really doesn't matter if others steal your idea.
What if they steal my idea? This is a concern that many early-stage founders have where they try to protect their idea. They will go into stealth mode. They want NDAs from all these different people before they even share their idea. When the fact is ideas are not exclusive. There are probably 100 maybe 1,000 other people working on the same idea. And I'm pretty convinced that there are probably thousands and maybe even more than thousands of people working on the same idea because you will be surprised by the number of people that come into the accelerator program in terms of the applications, the number of applications that we get with similar ideas... It's crazy. It's astounding.
For example, we've had three different companies pitch an idea where they were working on virtualizing fit. So in terms of clothing, the problem that they're trying to solve is people have to go to different fitting rooms and they have to see how the clothing fits on them, etcetera. So they want to solve this problem, especially because of Covid, they have the technology that will let the garments draped down and it's like an accurate simulation model. And I've had three different companies approached me with this exact idea, they were all kind of going about it in three different ways. Some ideas were better than others. However, it was the same idea and if these three different players play the game long enough, they're probably gonna converge towards that same idea, right? Because that's how water flows... water flows kind of towards this same direction.
This Fit tech idea. That's not the only type of idea. I have people reaching out to me with ideas for setting up solar panel stations for the electric car revolution, I've had at least two or three people reach out for that. Then we have people reach out for sharing economy ideas, so they'll look at Airbnb and they will try to replicate that for events. So it could be selling experience. Like I've had two companies at least do an Airbnb of events. And it could be other types of sharing as well, so it doesn't have to be events. It could be something like an Uber model where people are sharing space or they're sharing some kind of tools, gardening tool, whatever. Like I've had a lot of different people approached me with this marketplace is this is one of the biggest things people want to develop two-sided, three-sided marketplaces, they just want to bring different people together, buyers and sellers together. And there are so many easy ways to do this too, but founders will make the mistake where they're actually trying to build the app first instead of actually building the market first.
The whole point is, there are so many people working on very similar things that if you're keeping this to yourself, you're actually doing yourself a disservice. The best way to approach this is to actually pretend that your idea is already stolen. So whenever founders come into the Vertical Liftoff accelerator program, this is one of the first things that we do. We build a company we want to make sure that we build a company where if our product fails our company will still succeed. And part of the product feeling is if someone steals our IP we can still succeed. So the approach is we just assumed that someone already stole it. And if you can build a company around an idea that's easily copyable but still succeeds, this is when you know you are starting to build your operating system for your empire.
So don't let this little thing stop you. Where you think people are going to steal your idea because the fact is people are going to steal your idea. It's inevitable. There's nothing you can do to stop it. In fact, if you focus all your time energy and focus on getting patents and all this other IP protection. You have to have the money to be able to defend your patents and if you don't there's nothing you can do. And what most likely is going to happen is other companies that may be acting maliciously. They will steal your IP, they will set up an LLC, they will steal your IP, they will take from the market as much as they can and they're getting much higher margins because they don't have to pay for this R and D, that you paid for, right?
They just stole your idea. Now they're making money from it. And then before you can even say the word lawsuit, that company is dissolved and they are gone. And then they will just set up another new LLC. And they'll keep doing the same thing. And before you can even sue them they will disappear and they're gone. And you're just left playing this whack a mole game, which is gonna drain you of all your time, energy, focus, resources... And it's not a very fun game to play.
So to get around this, because the time it takes for someone to be able to copy your idea is decreasing. To be able to get around this. When you go vertical with a vertical startup, then you are delivering value, an unparalleled value that other people just cannot deliver. So it doesn't matter if someone steals your idea or steals your IP if you have this customer list, then you are building this empire that will grow with you and go with you. Even if you don't have a product or service to offer, you will still be fed because you have this customer list and you can sell access to this list. You can do so many things with this list. Your customer list is an asset.
I hope this is getting through to you because of your IP... It really doesn't matter your brand name, your domain name. All these things. It really does not matter what really matters is your customer list. And when you have this customer list, you will be building a moat around your business, where it doesn't matter if someone steals your pipe because you still have your people. I hope this helps. This is Robin Copernicus. Boom bam. I'm out.
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