Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why I Don't Fear That My Product Idea Gets Stolen

After seeing how much leverage the 30x500 online community has given me, I though it would be fun to meet great people also offline. So I visited the local startup accelerator called Protomo with hopes to meet like-minded people from other startups.

Protomo is not only for applying to accelerator programs. You can connect with other startups, share resources and get free (government supported) help and instructions. The personnel is super-friendly too.

But I soon found out I think differently than most of the people I met there. Thanks to Amy, my teacher in 30x500, I'm free of several common startup fears.

Grateful for that, I thought I'd share how I learned not to fear that someone steals my product idea.


Startups Fear That Someone Steals Their Idea

Being around 30x500 guys I'd forgotten how idea-driven the startup scene is.

You'll put on your thinker hat and you come up with a novel product idea. Then it's just a matter of building that never-before-seen product and becoming a multimillionaire.

But right after you come up with your product idea, new fears follow.

You'll need feedback and you'd really like to talk about your business and your idea. At the same time you fear to talk about it. If you tell your idea to people they might steal if from you.

You also fear that someone comes up with the same idea, and that puts extra pressure on you. You need to be stealthy and you need to be fast. You need to beat your competitors with a similar idea.

So you work on your own and avoid talking about your business and your ideas.

Sadly, that's how many people think product creation must be. Doing so they take extra risks and give away lots of their power. But there are other options, other product creation processes.

30x500 teaches a fear-free approach to product creation

I can honestly say 30x500 was the best thing I bought last year. It makes my little bootstrapper life so much easier. I can now concentrate on building my business without high risks, high stress and emotional roller coasters. Working towards my new business is still exciting, but there's no extra hassle.

It's like my brain is re-wired now. I have a completely new approach to product ideas.

Ideas are not a rare commodity

With 30x500 process I can now generate new product ideas when I need them. Seeing the vast ocean of ideas, I'm not helpless if someone copies my idea. There's more where it came from.

I love the serenity I get from knowing this. And yes, that sea is not bottomless, but there's room for little o' me and my humble product.

My product will be superior to copycat's product

In the "normal" product creation process, ideas come at the beginning. They come when you are alone and vulnerable, weak against competition. At start, your idea is all you have.

Now, that does not happen with 30x500. In the 30x500 process ideas are just one of the results. They appear later in the process. In addition to an idea, I'll have a ton of research behind me and a plan for carrying my idea into final product that customers will love. I'll have deep understanding about my customers - something a person just copying my idea does not have.

To really steal from me and benefit, one would need to get all my material, my conclusions, my product plans plus my vision. Not so easily done. Equipped to build the best possible product for eagerly awaiting customers - and with a head start, I just don't need to worry.

My product will have unique personality

Last month I have been data mining the same resources with 50 other people. We all wrote articles based on that data and they were all different. Some people did share the same topic, but the articles were all different. They had different viewpoints, appealing to different types of customers.

People don't buy ideas. They buy products that bring them value. And they prefer to buy products that fit their personality.

If you base your business on an idea, anyone can copy you. Just implement an idea and you have a product that is faceless, tasteless and odorless. But what makes a successful business is not the idea. The core of your business is what makes people come to you, the softly spoken promise that you'll give them exactly what they desire. You kill their pains and you make them feel special, like your product was tailored for them.

From my current perspective only identical products compete from the same customers. As long as product differentiates somehow, there is room for it. There is a sea of customers, all slightly different, reacting to different triggers.

My idea is not one-in-a-kind unique, so copycats are not interested

I do admire people coming up with unique ideas. But if I'd had such an idea now, I'd file a patent application and forget it for a while. Or maybe I'd try to sell the idea.

I'm not ashamed to admit I'm green in business. Starting up with an unique idea with no business experience is a huge risk. What if the idea is not yet commercialized because there is some showstopper implementing it? What if dozens of people have already tried and failed? What if there just isn't audience for the idea?

Picking up that kind of idea would take me back into situation where I'd have extra worries. I'd have no knowledge of my future customers, I would not know how to appeal to them. I'd lose my best advantage, my product would have no edge and anyone with more resources could take me out.

With 30x500 process I can infiltrate into saturated-looking markets and do fine there. I don't have to come with something only masterminds of the human kinds can invent.

Doing something extraordinary or brand new might be fun. But it's not something I'd pick as my first project now.

I choose co-operation over competition any day

The fun thing about my change of attitude is that I don't feel the urge to compete with people now. We have a great community in 30x500 and we can openly share our ideas, thoughts and fears because we don't have to wall up. I can trust that my fellow students will not steal my ideas or otherwise harm my business. It's a refreshing change and I don't want to go back to the secretive "I don't trust you enough to tell you my ideas"-mode.

In my visits to Protomo I saw a lot of people who had a great urge to network and discuss things, yet they were unable to do that. They were holding back. I had some great discussions, but they were not the type of discussions that would have brought value to my business or take me forward.

It really leverages learning when we can openly speak about everything. I'm so sorry to see how lots of people throw away that advantage.


As I'm writing this we are in the mid-point of 30x500. We have gone through the process once in test mode and we are gathering strength and momentum to run it all again - but now for real. It is exciting, but I have already seen what this powerful process is capable of. I can't wait to get started!

After seeing how much leverage the 30x500 online community has given me, I feel that some kind of community or mentor is essential in speeding up lone entrepreneurs at the start. I'm so glad to be part of 30x500 community and have Amy, Brennan and Alex as my teachers!

There are no affiliate links in this post. Enjoy!


  1. Hey Jaana. Great post! I could not agree with you more about the unfounded fear people have about ideas being stolen. I used to have this fear too until I joined a startup incubator. The first thing they told me that is that "your idea is worthless....only thing that matters is execution of solving a problem".

    The next few months all I did was spend time talking about my ideas openly and getting critical feedback. I knew intellectually that it was silly for me to fear my idea would be stolen, but now it really sunk in. I look back at those times and just laugh at how much time I wasted worrying about the wrong thing.

    Having run my own business I know how hard it is to actually implement a business. The idea is just a start. Execution is way more difficult which is where most people don't follow through.

    If someone is afraid to tell me their idea I know theres a good chance that person has never run a business before. They've been watching too many movies where all you need is a great idea and you'll make it.

    The only way to get past this to spend more time with actual entrepreneurs to learn these types of valuable lessons.

    Great to hear you have a supportive community helping you along. Best of luck!

    1. Hey azmat. Thanks!

      I always enjoy reading about your experiences. Thanks for sharing!

      Normally, execution is my strong point, but this is all so new... we'll have to see how it goes. After not following through the 2 courses I've started before 30x500 I know there are hurdles to jump over.

      My absolutely biggest fear originally was that I'd end up creating something no-one wants. I have been professionally doing software R&D for over 10 years and I've seen how even in a large company SO many products end up duds. I just can't afford that when bootstrapping. Fortunately it looks like 30x500 process helps with that too.

  2. Hey Jaana. I definitely understand your fear or creating something no one wants or needs. I experience that too from time to time with my current projects. Probably the biggest reasons most startups and small businesses fail. Glad to hear the 30X500 process helped you with that. Perhaps you can share the process more thoroughly in future posts. How's your new project coming along? Can you share your new project or is it top secret haha?

    Best of luck!

    1. Hey azmat! Thanks.

      You might want to take a look at the free sample lessons from Amy's blog:

      I think one or two of them outlines the process.

      The process itself is pretty simple, we just get to know the audience so well that we know what will appeal to them. But learning how to actually do that has been hard work.

      We are just starting a second round with our real audiences. I'll be happy to share as things proceed. But right now I just see the potential of this process, I have not selected my audience yet. It's pretty exciting and while I see everyone around me doing great, some days I still wonder how *I* will do. But we'll see!

    2. Hey Jaana. Thanks for the link. Looks really informative. I'm looking forward to seeing which concept you decide to implement. Best of luck!