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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Entrepreneurs, forget about NDAs!

Non Disclosure Agreements (NDAs) are useless.

At least that´s my opinion. I won´t be the first person advocating for their inefficiency and removal from entrepreneurial business practices (I´m not talking here about medical, law, industrial or any other "established" environment).

If you have an idea, say it! share it with your friends, family members, & the people you meet everyday. Why?

I can think of at least 3 reasons:
- Firstly, they´ll start challenging you and help you improve the initial idea.
- Second, because they´ll feel honored that your trust them and might well help you later on if they can.
- Third, imagine you talk to someone about your idea and realize that (s)he´s decided to start executing right away without telling you: if your idea has entry-barriers low enough to enable anybody to implement in a wink, I guess you should builp up your project, work harder to fit your market needs so that it becomes unmatchable by the competition in the short-run.

That´s why I´ll start posting a few ideas - all IT addicted- from time to time on this very blog, starting as of tomorrow. I believe we´ll be able to improve such ideas a good deal. And, who knows, some of you might well feel like starting-up something related to such brainstormings.

PS: it goes without saying that if someone comes to you with an idea, asking you for your opinion and input but for the strictest confidentiality as well, the most basic ethical discipline will make you even forget that you met with this would-be entrepreneur. However, before you shut your mouth forever to respect her/his will, take one or two minutes to try to convince her/he to display entrepreneurial ideas. There would be just nothing to regret since every word, comment, move, external input can only help.


  • is it dedicated to me? ;-O)if yes, thanks!

    very good analysis. in addition to your post, i would say that the "2.0 way of thinking" implies that the role of the whole community is more and more important everyday in creating and selling products. So any entrepreneur or manager has to take it (this revolution) into account... or die.

    By Anonymous gandon françois albert, at 8/08/2006 09:41:00 PM  

  • Hey Jeremy. I read every post. :)

    As I say, and I think I said to you when we met, if the idea can be taken and executed on that easily, it's probably a bad idea and I've got to come up with something better. Like your point 3.

    Further, if the people I'm telling would grab the exact idea (the only thing an NDA might protect) and slight me like that, I probably have to find a better circle of contacts. :)

    I think that, more often than not, people who insist on an NDA upfront are naive and inexperienced. The worst is the naivete who's asking for an NDA when there's no substance to the idea in the first place.

    By Anonymous Dave Notik, at 8/08/2006 10:29:00 PM  

  • I see another reason to talk about projects: everything's going on so fast nowadays that it is possible that someone has already developped your concept. And as you cannot know everything, people can help you to get informed and see if the project concept has already been started somewhere.

    By Anonymous Cedric, at 8/08/2006 11:40:00 PM  

  • François-Albert> Sorry to say so, but this post was not especially dedicated to you. However, you influenced it in a certain way. I admire your entrepreneurial drive and energy, as well as your ability to network efficiently and ask the right questions to the right people.

    Dave> I knew I would find you here. That's true, we had about two months ago - in one of New York City's many Indian restaurants, a very interesting discussion about NDAs. And one of your arguments was precisely my point number 3.

    You must probably find me a bit inconsistent right now. Indeed, I had told you I couldn't tell you exactly what the project we saw each other for was about. The thing is that this very project, as I told you, isn't mine & I had signed NDAs. I´ve chosen to remain an active advisor (& to become a very, very small investor) in the whole process.

    By the way I hope Woven's well. FYI, I'm planning to write a post on it some day - probably at Beta version release.

    Cédric> True, that's another reason. But if someone knows a competitor you hadn't noticed, it means you haven't investigated your market well on your own. However I agree that some similar projects might be just starting and not visible yet. It should´ve been a point number 4.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 8/09/2006 09:53:00 AM  

  • i was just joking... ;-O) it is a true pleasure to exchange with very smart, open-minded, and humble people like you. indeed.

    i still have to learn a lot... on progress. hope so.

    By Blogger gandonfrancoisalbert, at 8/09/2006 11:43:00 AM  

  • Salut Jeremy

    Je suis un peu faignant cet après-midi et je vais répondre en Français.

    Je suis assez d'accord avec toi sur le fait qu'un projet doit/peut être dévoilé avant même sa sortie. Mais attention quand même à ne pas tuer le projet dans l'oeuf en dévoilant trop son jeu.

    Un entrepreneur modèle dans l'exposition au grand jour de ce qu'il fait dans son projet, c'est Martin Varsavsky, le fondateur de FON. En suivant son Blog, on a accès à toutes ses idées de développements futurs et notamment les plus folles. J'aime lire ce genre de blogs car ils sont très instructifs sur la méthodologie de travail, sur ces réseaux d'influence, ... Surtout que Martin, n'en est pas à son premier coup d'essai (, JazzTel, ...).

    Peut-être ouvrirai-je bientôt un blog sur le projet dont tu connais un peu le contenu. Je compte en tout cas procéder complètement différemment du leader du projet sur lequel tu es en ce moment. Non pas que cette stratégie soit mauvaise mais l'impact et la cible visée diffèrent complètement.

    Sur ce, je suis impatient de lire les idées qui te trotent dans la tête ;o)

    By Blogger Hubert, at 8/09/2006 02:53:00 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Hubert, at 8/09/2006 02:56:00 PM  

  • Hey Hubert,

    Let me switch back to English, Dave for instance might have well be interested in your comment. On the three points you mention:

    1) I agree with you: displaying ideas shouldn´t prevent the would-be entrepreneur to do his/her homework.

    2) Martin Varsavsky is really someone I admire. I fortunately browse his blog too seldom. I´ll make sure in the future to visit his blog more often to get to read about his ambitious ideas.

    3) About the project you´re talking about: one of the reasons why I started blogging was actually that the leader was wondering what blogging was all about. I figured out I could give him a much better answer if I was a blogger myself. I guess a blog, not too corporate though, would help the project bootstrap a great deal. Especially if it follows launching. And I believe it shouldn´t be too hard convincing the leader if we both push in the same direction.

    By Blogger Jeremy Fain, at 8/09/2006 03:35:00 PM  

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