Why "Stealth Startups" are a really bad idea.

I think Eric Ries summed it up best when he said.  

"The most common objection I have heard over the years to building an MVP is fear of competitors - especially large established companies - stealing a startup’s ideas.

He then goes on to issue the following assignment to those wishing to remain in "stealth mode"

Take one of your ideas (one of your lesser insights, perhaps), find the name of the relevant product manager at an established company who has responsibility for that area, and try to get that company to steal your idea. Call them up, write them a memo, send them a press release - go ahead, try it. The truth is that most managers in most companies are already overwhelmed with good ideas. Their challenge lies in prioritization and execution."

Even better I once read the following quote on Reddit in response to a game developer who asked other experienced devs if he should remain stealth about his game. 

"It is far more likely that your game will languish from obscurity than be ended because a competitor ran away with your idea and executed on it first." 

 

why remaining stealth is a bad idea

  1. You'll turn off investors.  VC's don't like to be treated like children or have their time wasted. Their not going to sign your stupid NDA. 
  2. You'll miss out on potential partners and collaborators.  I once read a book entitled "The Luck Factor".  After interviewing 400 people, researchers concluded that the more people you knew and who knew what you were doing the luckier you were.  Don't tell people what you're working on and they can't help you. 
  3. You'll lessen your motivation. Social pressure is an awesome motivator.  When things get hard and the always do you it's harder to back down and quite once you've announced to the world that your'e going to bring some new awesome app or game into the world. 
  4. You lack user input and feedback.  Creating great products means talking to lots and lots of customers, getting feedback and having users test your product.  If you develop it in a secretive stealth vacuum you miss out on this important feedback.  Do you want to spend 2 years developing a product to find out no one needs or wants it? 
  5. It makes conversations with friends pretty boring.  Hey man, "what are you working on?" Umm, I can't say........(crickets chirp).