You’ve had a brilliant business idea and you’ve spent days on how you will execute it and one day, it’s lost. That’s your worst nightmare, right? It can be very true in today’s world. We live in a digital age, where information is vulnerable to cyber-attacks and stealing tech startup ideas. Sure, there are ways in which you can protect your data, but you need to act fast and you need to act now to implement these solutions and make sure your idea is safe from theft.
Do People Steal Startup Ideas?
Yes, they do. As your startup grows, you will have to engage in pitching sessions for investors and incubation, etc, and the more you pitch, the more you reveal about the idea. Other people stealing your business idea isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds. It happens and we’ve seen many business owners lose their idea to a competitor, with very limited options left for recovery. So how to protect a business idea?
Let’s look at some ways in which you can prevent your unique startup idea from cyber attacks and theft:
1. Use Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDAs)
You should always have your team members or associates sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement before you share tech startup ideas with them. This will prevent them from leaking any information and bind them legally from doing so. This is actually the perfect answer to “how do I protect my data legally?” If you are not sure how to write up a non-disclosure agreement, you can easily find free online NDA templates that you can use.
Potential investors and partners might not be as willing to sign an NDA and you can let go of this step in this case because getting an investor is crucial for your business.
The other option is to always print a prominent confidentiality statement on your business plan, pitches, and your contracts.
2. Use a Double VPN
What’s better than a VPN? A doubleVPN, of course. A VPN is what protects your data online. As an online security protocol. You need to use a VPN so your users will connect to a remote server for information, instead of having direct access to your servers. Now, what is a double VPN? It basically adds an extra server to the data path and secures your data more effectively than a VPN. Your data will be protected from data theft online. Having a double VPN like VPN can improve your data security by ten folds. You can opt for a free trial as well.
A VPN won’t only protect your data, it will also help you increase the efficiency of work and overall team productivity with increased network speeds and no backlogged data.
3. Apply for a Patent
If you’re constantly asking yourself – how do I protect my startup from being copied? And, you have an idea that is really unique and out of the box. You need to invest in getting a patent registered for your idea. We understand that patents can be costlier than what a startup can afford, but you do have the option to get a provisional patent. A provisional patent will last for a year and within this year, you can gather the funds for a proper patent which will last 20 years.
When you are applying for a patent, you will have the option to choose from three types: a utility patent, a plant patent, and a design patent. The one you choose will depend on the kind of your startup.
Having a patent is the best option to legally protect your tech startup ideas from being copied.
4. Document Everything Religiously
As soon as you start working on your idea, you need to start documenting everything. If you’re ever in a situation where you have to defend your idea in an intellectual property court, you will have to produce proof of concept. Your plans, notes, and documents will be proof that you’ve developed the idea over time.
5. Trademark the Company Name
This is another way to protect your data legally. You can register a trademark for your company name with exact dates on when you started working on the idea. This will give you an added layer of protection in the case of a legal dispute.
6. Do Your Research
Your data is your biggest asset when it comes to protecting tech startup ideas. Sure, you can invest time in getting a fast and free VPN, trademarking your idea, etc. But, you need to spend some time researching and doing background checks on people that you are sharing your ideas. We live in the digital age. Information is very easily available and you can check people’s information online and make a wise decision about who you share your ideas with.
7. Follow Your Gut
As you work towards getting the right kind of protection for your tech startup idea, you need to also focus on what your instincts are telling you. As a business owner, you will often find yourself in situations where your gut is telling you that something is off. An alarm will go off in your brain in different situations. For example, you may meet someone who is very interested in the smallest of details which they shouldn’t really know about.
If you’re interacting with someone that has a proven track record in the business community and has developed many businesses of his own, they won’t be among the people stealing your ideas. But, if someone is new in the industry and has a lot of money to invest, yet needs an idea to do so, they can be a problem for you.
You need to trust your instincts and follow them in such situations and be the first guard against your idea being stolen.
Coming up with an idea and then executing it can be emotionally and physically draining, but it is worth the benefits. As a startup owner, your biggest priority should be to ensure your idea’s uniqueness and protection. So, you have enough time to make it big in the industry, before someone else takes your idea and executes it to perfection.
We also think that the best way to execute a startup is to do it immediately instead of sitting on it and waiting for the competition to get wind of it and replicate it. Invest in the most robust technology and proven legal measures to make sure your idea stays as unique as it is.
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