Should you be open or secretive about your startup?

Daniel Illenberger
10 replies
I was apart of a startup where the CEO was extremely paranoid about secrecy. Along with many other problems the company had, I believe this helped lead the company to failure for a couple reasons. -When you can’t openly talk about your company it is hard to build any type of following or community. -If you don’t trust people, they are not going to trust you. -We had to build out the entire product before getting any user feedback, so we had no idea if it was even a good idea. I now believe the hardest part of a startup is doing the work to make it a reality and 99.999% of people won’t steal your idea. What are your guys thoughts on this? Do you believe the benefits of being supper secretive or prefer to be open about your projects? Has anyone on here ever had an idea they were actively working on get taken because of sharing it with others? Thanks for any responses.


Graeme O’Connor
In my opinion the best founders are very transparent and dont worry about having their ideas stolen If a startup is relying on 1-2 technologies or ideas to succeed, the company is almost for sure doomed. Startups need to build a competitive advantage from the 100-1000s of decisions that they make every day, which is made up by their culture Also as you pointed out secrecy leads to many internal problems in terms of culture In summary competitors can copy ideas but not a startup culture, and being secretive tries to protect the former while damaging the latter!
I've always been a bit secretive, joining this community is pushing me to try and build a bit more in the open - which I do believe has a lot of benefits and outweighs the risk!
Yo came across this question and it got me super excited to jump in. From my experience, I believe there is no point in keeping an idea secretive if you're absolutely sure that you can do it better than others. In fact, you should talk to almost anyone who will listen. From friends, investors, fellow entrepreneurs - just absolutely anyone. On a side note, this process will make your pitch more mature and refined. Over the course of my career, I had built a Coworking startup, a book-selling platform, a development agency & hell yea a social learning platform. From all this one thing I can say - Your idea is either something someone is already building or it is already built. While pitching it to plenty others, the probability of you discovering this is very high. This will in fact help you to set the roadmap right. So go ahead and start pitching to anyone who wants to listen :D And yes! I'm all ears :)
Aatishi Sachdeva
I believe initially one should be secretive and try to gain knowledge about the market through various sources and once they are all set and equipped with tons of knowledge, one should be all in the open.
Rajiv Verma
Unless it's something very very niche/sensitive, talking about your startup as you are building it, is actually a great idea.
Ben Chanapai
My opinion is to always be open about it for the most part. Execution is definitely the critical factor that will dictate the success of the company not the idea itself. The only exemption is like if it is a top secret product like maybe for a defense contractor or something.
Like everyone here, I believe being secretive is irrelevant when you work on building an app. More often than not, the idea behind your project is not as important as its execution. And as there are many factors that can change the outcome and lead to success or failure, I think talking about it is the best way to gather feedback early, test the idea with different profiles, adapt your vision if necessary, and see if there's interest as early as possible.
Kapil Gadhire
In my opinion at the start when you have a fresh idea you can be secretive and keep it low till you reach a point where you know the idea has not pivoted much and things are falling in place. Post that building in public might actually be a better option. We openly started talking about our product - Boltic( which is going to be launched tomorrow (11th Feb, Friday)) once we built the initial MVP.
Elena Cirera
Open culture improves motivation in employees; it creates a sense of self belonging and trust in the employees. When mission, vision and goals are shared with employees, it encourages them to invest their energy in the organization.
Michael DAWANT
I can share my own experience, I started Vespucci ( with my co-founder Achraf at the university under the supervision of a statistician and of other academics (We owe them a lot 💜). At that time we were evolving in a world that was very worried about being "copied”. This has even led us to file a patent to protect part of the technology we are developing. I think it's an approach that makes sense in an academic context. The value is primarily in the technology. However, I think that when it comes to developing a company with this technology, you really need to leave this "culture of secrecy". And this for several reasons: 🖱 Product wise: before developing our mathematical models, we conducted dozens of interviews to try to identify the problem we thought we had identified. However, these interviews did not resist to the contact with the market. when we put our MVP in the hands of our first users, we realised (among many things...) that our integration approach was not suitable. We abandoned our SDKs to focus on leveraging existing data through integrations with Segment and Amplitude. Your users will compare you to your competitors, maybe even tell them about your idea. But this is a risk you have to take. 🤑Investor wise: no VC likes to rush an investment decision (even if paradoxically creating a sense of rush is the only way to raise funds 😅). And no VC will agree to sign a NDA. So once again you have no choice but to be as transparent as possible about what you are building to show that you’re moving fast. At Vespucci we compile all our progress on this page: 🛠 And finally, you probably heard this sentence 50 times but it really makes sense: what will make your startup is the execution and probably not the idea. And I think building a company under the radar makes the execution harder.