If You Want To Pitch Me An Idea

I’m not going to sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA). Just so you know.

Now, I’m not a venture capitalist, and Ripple is not an incubator. But I get my share of calls with people who would like to bounce ideas off of me. Ideas for products, businesses and the like. "Cool," I say. "Let’s hear it!"

Then the catch: You want me to sign an NDA. Well, that pretty much stops things for me. It’s a legal liability for something I don’t even know about yet. And it’s a bit of a slap in the face. Someone asking me for my time (valuable), so they can ask me for my advice (sometimes valuable). In exchange I get asked to sign a legal document (never fun) that puts me at risk. Why would I do that?

Here’s the thing: No one is going to steal your idea. Unless you already have a hot competitor, and that’s the guy you are sitting down with, you’re probably safe. The benefit of getting advice from smart people probably outweighs the risk of having your idea stolen. And even if it is…so what? It doesn’t mean they can kick ass at it. There are no shortage of companies that have tried to steal the idea of the iPod (which was in turn stolen from a company that stole it from another). Your problem is how to kick-ass at your idea. 100 other people already have the same idea. I promise.

Paul Graham says it perfectly here.

As for me? Please. I hardly have enough energy to do what I am doing now.

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