What’s the deal with confidentiality agreements?

Johanna RobinsonFinance, Legal, Product

On our most recent episode of Tech School, I spoke about legal basics for startup founders, and we touched briefly on confidentiality agreements.

On the list of most-common-questions-we-get-asked are questions about confidentiality. Here’s our take on two aspects.

1. Should you worry about someone stealing your idea?

No, you should not. 99.9999999% of people have better things to do than steal your idea and build a company around it.

Talking about your idea is great. It’s a way to get feedback and a way to get people excited about it. On Ido Tuchman’s recent Tech School talk (on Intellectual Property), he mentioned Michael Ryan Norton’s excellent advice to share your progress with your potential customers as you are building your product so that you have a built-in customer base when you launch.

Even better than talking about your product to your potential customers is ask lots of questions about what they need without even mentioning your product. Focus on building the relationship and sponging up everything they’re willing to share about their pain points and what they would give to have those pains go away.

If you missed the GoSurf team’s talk on customer discovery, you should go watch it. (After you finish reading this post, of course.) The team talks about their passion for getting feedback from their customers and how they incorporate the feedback into their product.

2. Is that investor a jerk because he wouldn’t sign my non-disclosure agreement (a.k.a., confidentiality agreement)?

Nope. Not a jerk. Just an experienced and thoughtful investor. Here’s a link to a great article on the Cooley Go site that will give you some insight.

If you missed my talk, you can see watch the recording on our YouTube channel. I touched on contracts, confidentiality, consulting, and trademarks. I also shared some resources in addition to the Cooley Go website.