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To sign or to sign? We have had this conversation a thousand times in our time as a venture studio, and we are going to be straightforward about this: sorry, we don’t sign non-disclosure agreements (NDA), partly out of principle, somewhat to send a message.
Inspired by this blog post, we decided, as an internal principle, not to sign in the future NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) to get to know new ideas in the initial stage of maturation.
Bureaucracy has never brought added value. It involves time, energy, patience, and terms that we never quite understand, but we submit to them for some reason.
“Are you really going to sue me?
Let’s assume, for argument’s sake, that you do have something unique and original. And I sign your piece of paper. And something weird happens, and it ends up with you suing me as a result.
Seriously, are you going to spend those ultra-limited seed funds on litigation? If not, why make me sign it?”
Besides, no one will bother to develop the pitch deck, do the market research, send the email, just like you’ve already put your hands in the dirt. That’s why it came out to question NDAs.
How much is an idea worth? Is an NDA worth it?
It is useless to have an incredible idea on paper when, in practice, it does not apply to the market you envisioned, primarily when you did not even research to understand if it is worth following the direction of the proposal.
As Daniel Antunes, CEO of GoBacklog, mentioned:
Just to give you an idea of how much an idea is really worth, it is not even possible to patent an idea. For you to be able to do this, there must be process and execution. So there is no way for you to patent an idea. Only then do you know how much it is worth, or rather, it is not worth.
In addition, on a planet with more than 8 billion people, surely someone has already thought of something that resembles your idea. If you believe that it is unique and the most innovative, you are passionate about its design, which hinders the process of innovation and feedback.
Remember: there is always something to be changed and improved. Nothing is permanent.
What are our principles on the topic?
- Trust should not be the consequence of a written and signed document – and this sentence speaks for itself.
- In the same way that the idea arises spontaneously and free of charge, we should do the same regarding the sharing of the concept;
- Ideas are not a limited resource;
- We are genuine, transparent, and true to ourselves. We try to promote the same with others. You have to do your homework to be able to outsource this to our customers and partners.
- We believe less is less – we don’t complicate life;
- We believe that the sum of ideas from people with different backgrounds can bring more effective results, not only for your technical knowledge and experience but also for your network and the ability to connect you with the right people at the right time.
NDAs don’t guarantee everything
- The exchange of data between companies is invaluable.
It is impossible to control everything spoken in meetings, exchanging messages via email or corporate chat, especially when it’s not just one person who makes all the decisions. Contrary to what many people think, this is where suggestions, the “what ifs,” and the potential to improve what already exists arise.
2. A patent is not eternal.
Each country has a different rule for patents. For some, after 10 or 20 years, the secret becomes information for the public domain. Besides, it is difficult to patent something that is only on paper, which does not have prototypes or any other practical application type.
3. They are too generalists.
As there are several types of communication, through formal and informal channels, the person who writes the NDA often tends to be quite a generalist in terms and not specify what would actually be an infraction.
What do we want to be reciprocal in a partner relationship?
- Trust: as shown in one of our principles above, we believe that any and all relationships can only start healthily with trust.
- Be open to new ideas: no, we don’t want to change your view entirely or make you lose focus. Much less belittle or reduce its concepts to something not very innovative. The idea is just the opposite: it’s to brainstorm and align thoughts between you and us. In the beginning, it is normal that not everything is well defined and allows for dozens of interpretations.
- Transparent communication: omissions, no. Positive feedback, yes. Negative feedback, always – but with suggestions.
- Active listening: talking is great. Listen, even better, since it’s here that you will realize what the external perception of you and your idea is. Also, the parties are dedicating their time and attention (nothing more respectful than this).
- A win-win term for the parties: partnership must benefit everyone involved in a balanced way.
- Involvement: with the partnership closed, we want your opinion and sincere feedback on what we do and the processes we decide to follow together. Passivity has no place here, but creative freedom has.
Do you still think that the risk of stealing your idea is greater than the potential to improve it with input from different people?