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Startup - Your ideas can be stolen

Sundharesan Jayamoorthi 
on 01 August 2016

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In a recent conference one of the participants asked a question “can our ideas be stolen”. As a panelist, we were required to handle this sensitive question without hurting the sentiments of the innovator. Along with me on the panel were three entrepreneurs; one who was into organic farming, another who made edible cutleries and a CEO in the business of training the teachers. I was the odd person in the panel, an ECG specialist, having specialized in ethics, compliance and governance.It was my turn to reply to this question, I started analysing on these lines.

Ideas – what is it?

Ideas canbe situations or a difficulty encountered by an entrepreneur in his personal life. The first person that I had met who had converted some difficulty into an idea was the founder of Su-kam inverters. There can also be a person who has no difficulty but wants to do something in life and when the family taunts the person for not doing something in that frustration an idea can be born, which can be sitting on a sofa couch and writing a program for making online payments. And there are a zillion ways to get ideas sitting in parks, eateries and of course in loos (restrooms),ideas can come screaming “Eureka”.

Converting ideas to business

It is never easy to convert an idea into business; in fact it is one of the toughest things to do. While we may be in aposition to make the first buck, it is extremely difficult to convert that first buck into last buck and move out of a business after having the satisfaction of converting the idea into a business.

Ideas can be stolen

That is the easiest thing to happen and there are a few hundred stories that each one of us can relate to when our ideas that we always thought were original or fabricated or copied were stolen from us, right under our nose and we maybe helplessly watching that situation.

Ideas as culture

The successful startups are those that have managed to convert their ideas into a culture, where ideas have become successful as a culture and the best example is facebook. The other idea that has become a cultureisWhatsApp, OMG one get started without knowing what is up nor wind up without knowing what is up. With the younger crowd there is a snapchat, for whom it is always a pleasure of plenty and of course all time favourite, for all ages youtube. How can one forget google that seems to have replaced the dictionary meaning for search – google me. These are just a few amazing stories of how ideas got converted into culture.

How to convert an idea into a culture?

This is a billion dollar question (check the valuations of the companies cited above).  I leave this question for you to think and honestly I feel every entrepreneur who has converted an idea into a culture need not worry about his or her idea being stolen.

Finally, the simple answer to the question as a panelist was “yes, ideas can be stolen, but when ideas become culture, that culture can never be stolen”. The entrepreneurs sitting next to me were into organic food, edible cutlery and teaching and all these were ideas that have become a culture. Guess what my answer seem to be most satisfying to them and they were the first to say  – no our ideas cannot be stolen. 

Entrepreneurs it is time you get ideas converted into a culture.


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