IP – Key factor turning ideas into reality

Sam McAfee – Intellectual Property – Key factor that turns ideas into reality.

When I was a consultant, we were in the business of building people’s ideas. So they would come in with, I want to build this web application, I know just how I want it to be, and here’s the target audience. I’ve signed a lot of NDAs in my life. And I sort of chuckle about it now, because it was just a complete waste of time. And it always kind of would make me go, hmm, when someone would say, look I want to tell you about my idea and get an estimate from you, how much it would cost to build it, but first I want you to sign an NDA, as if I was going to take their idea, and turn around and sell it to someone else or go build it myself! Because the reality is that there, at least in this environment in the Bay Area, ideas are just springing out of woodwork.

There are more than enough problems in the world to solve that—it really is about the execution. And I think that the idea will really only get you so far, and so I think that there’s sort of this false scarcity in thinking that your intellectual property is the most important thing. That you have to kind of protect your big idea until it’s just perfect.

You don’t want to show it to anyone. I think that’s kind of sort of a form of anti learning. Because part of learning is actually putting something out there or trying something, getting a little feedback from the universe about whether this is a valid hypothesis that you have and then building that into your concept.

You can’t really do that with products until you put some out there. You have to show your hand in this industry. You have to actually put something out. 

You have to be okay with exposure.

The earlier you get it out there, the better! I mean, they say if you’re not embarrassed by your first version of your product, you shipped too late. You should’ve set it out early when it still had warts on it. Because you want that data as soon as possible. It’s all about risk, again.

Yeah, there’s this perceived risk that someone else will steal your idea and do it better. But I think that’s really an illusion. I think the bigger risk is you’ll spend all your money on something that’s not really worth doing, and then you’ll launch it and no one will want it. That’s a much bigger risk.

And frankly, if the other guys do the same thing or something similar, who’s to say they’re going to do it as well as you? There are lots of versions of nearly every product or service. Very few have a monopoly, and if they do, the minute they go live, 10 minutes later someone else will build a clone of it anyway, and you constantly have to keep ahead of them.

So there’s no safety in saving your idea until you’re ready and it’s just perfect. You might as well get the execution right and get your team right and build a team that’s able to test that idea. And stop when it’s appropriate to do a new idea. That’s much more important.

Category: Interviews