Why go stealth?

I always go back and forth about whether stealth mode is good or bad.  I guess that I should back up and explain what I mean by stealth.  When someone has a business idea, she may choose not to disclose what the idea is about aka stealth mode.  Alright with that out of the way, let’s continue.

Almost always I am con-stealth mode, I think people are cheating themselves from getting good feedback from others.  How can someone give feedback if they know nothing about the idea?  I am not asking these folks to disclose everything, such as implementation and IP, just enough information so that people know what the idea is about.  Also, if someone is afraid to share, then maybe that person isn’t bringing anything to the table to make the idea a success.

When I am pro-stealth mode, it’s usually because I know that people just don’t want to share things with folks who they don’t know too well.  It’s nothing personal.  Also, I can see people not interested in hearing feedback when they have already made the decision to move forward with the idea no matter what someone else says.  Been there, done that, I understand.  It’s dedication baby!  Well perhaps ignorant dedication, but still dedication.

So, yesterday, I was thinking about some advice that I received from an Angel Investor at a Women 2.0 event.  I am a trained engineer after all so it is my job to over analyze things.  He told me, “Someone can steal your idea, but not your vision and experience”.  I didn’t think too much about it until now.  Basically, he was saying don’t get hung up with a copycat.  You are the person with the vision/roadmap and the person with experience (e.g., knowing the customer pain and how to execute).

Similar to the triangle of cost, content, and time when talking about making a product, I propose a triangle of idea, vision, and experience when talking about starting up.

Back to the idea of stealth mode.  Besides the reasons that I discussed earlier about being in stealth mode, I actually think that people go into stealth mode because they lack vision and experience (e.g., missing two sides of the triangle).  For vision, people just don’t understand what makes their idea cool and how the product can evolve into that cool product.  There are going to be folks who go into an area where they lack experience.  Until you start developing and selling the product, you gain no experience.  For this very reason alone, people need a head start so that they can get the experience, not for a first mover advantage as some may argue.

Enough ranting.  Enjoy!

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