In 2019, with the role social media plays in our lives as people and entrepreneurs, someone stealing your idea is approximately the most insignificant challenge you will ever have as you look to build a sustainable business.
What I mean is, entrepreneurship is hard, it is more than hard, it is virtually statistically impossible to succeed. There are quite literally endless challenges you will face along the way, and someone "stealing" your idea should not even be on your list.
Econet wireless unveiled an Sasai app which is a chat and payments app developed by Cassava Fintech International. An entrepreneur claims that Econet stole his ideas which he pitched to them back in 2013. Artwell Makumbe who is the CEO of Hiclicker said in 2013 he was offered 4% shareholding in Econet Wireless Zimbabwe and they get 60% shares in Hiclicker.
In 2015 Econet has a market value of 2.49 billion and at 4% shares would have made Artwell Makumbe a multiple million (USD$ 99 600 000) making him the youngest millionaire in Zimbabwe history.
Econet Founder and Group Chairman Strive Masiyiwa has made the point clear that Ideas can not be stolen.
"It never ceases to amaze me that every time we launch a service, some guy walks off the street and claims it was his "idea" that was "stolen". How does anyone in Africa, claim that they "own" an idea that is being used by 1,2bn people in China?!" he said.
"In entrepreneurship, we do not talk in terms of "stealing ideas" otherwise everything would be a monopoly! We talk in terms of infringement of patents or copyrights, or even legally binding agreements. That is what courts consider. Everything else is slander or just a crude attempt at extortion," he added.
Most startups fail because they build something nobody wants. Talking to people early, especially people who are the intended users/customers for your idea can be a great way to protect yourself from that risk, which is considerably higher than the risk of someone taking off with your idea.
An idea is just that, and it is about 0.1 percent of what is needed to win at this game so don't focus your energy or resources on preventing it, but rather spend your time building a product people love, and guess what? No one can copy that.
Facebook was not the first social network on the internet, not even close. Apple was not first to mobile. Google was not the first to search. Uber was not first to transportation. I can obviously go on for hours, but you know where I am going with this.
Every idea should be shared because they need mass validation. Do you think that people would have gotten into strangers cars to be dropped home years ago without being exposed to it first?
In the end, share and keep your execution plan to yourself, but let other people know about what you're doing. Discussion about ideas should always be free-flowing.