How to Handle Startup Idea Theft

Have you ever been jacked? The only time I recall being a victim of theft was during undergrad at USC. Someone broke into my car while it was parked in the garage of my downtown L.A. apartment complex and the bandit(s) made off with my CD collection.

While I was relatively unscathed by the theft (hey, there were some pretty great CDs in that collection), I still felt immense anger from the incident. Thus, I can only imagine the amount of rage a founder might experience when their startup idea is stolen from them.

On the topic of startup ideas and theft, the frequent mantra is: “Team + Implementation > Idea” or “Ideas are worthless.” And while helpful, these mantras only offer solace to the startup idea theft victim, rather than provide guidance going forward.

So how should founders act post startup idea theft? How does a founder properly channel the rage?

I came across an article on this very topic while checking my rss feeds this morning: Someone Stole My Startup Idea. In the article, serial entrepreneur Steve Blank provides a candid look at how he dealt with having his startup idea stolen (slides and all) and ultimately left his startup idea thief “in the dust.”

Steve offers this piece of advice in his “Never Get Even, Get Ahead” approach:

Successful companies are about the learning, discovery, iteration on your initial ideas. If someone can do a better job iterating hypotheses and executing than you can, you deserve to fail.

Steve understood that his startup idea theft didn’t mean the end of his startup. And that thinking allowed his startup to persevere. Check Steve’s full story here.

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