This summer, we were fortunate to have Cory Levy, a 16 year old student and entrepreneur from Houston, TX join us at Techstars as an intern. Recently, Cory and I had an email exchange about being open on the web, and I wanted to post his words and thoughts here. This is a some good advice from a smart young man. Cory said:
This is a lesson that takes people a while to learn. It took me several months. Just over a year ago, I was cold connecting with people to learn more about start-ups and to receive feedback on my ‘startup idea’. Before giving any details, I would ask for a signed NDA. That was one of my biggest mistakes early on. A few people here and there would sign NDAs and send them back to me, however NDAs were/are ultimately worthless. Once I realized that NDAs are useless, the amount of people I was able to reach out to, along with my response rate greatly increased. The amount of data/advice I was getting from people significantly rose. I received over 50 typed pages of emails/facebook messages in July and August of 2007.
I strongly believe the more open you are on the web, the more successful you will be. You shouldn’t be worried that someone will ‘steal’ your idea. It is very likely that over a dozen of other companies have the same idea as you. I personally try my best to get my ‘idea’ out there. I tell people about it and ask for feedback/suggestions. I have yet to create anything but have learned so much by being open.
Right on Cory! Share your ideas with smart trusted folks, and recognize that it’s all about execution!