In today’s episode of The Startup Chat, Steli and Hiten talk about how secretive you should really be with your ideas as a founder.

The startup industry, it’s common for new founders to be super protective of their ideas. However, more experience founders understand that ideas are a dime a dozen, and execution is all that really matters.  

In this week’s episode, Steli and Hiten dive into how secretive you should be with your ideas, wow the execution of an idea is what really matters, when to be protective of an idea and much more.

Time Stamped Show Notes:

00:00 About today’s topic.

00:27 Why this topic was chosen.

01:33 How secretive you should be with your ideas.

01:46 How the execution of an idea is key.

02:33 The last time the guys worried about sharing an idea with anyone.

03:28 How being new to coming up with ideas tends to make you overprotect them.

03:51 How the value of execution has taken center stage in the startup world.

04:06 How valuable is an idea in today’s world.

04:17 When to be protective of an idea.

05:20 How executing an idea can change how you feel about it.

3 Key Points:

  • Ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is all that really matters.
  • Ideas are more of a starting point and are almost never the end all.
  • The more experienced you become the less protective you are of your ideas.


Steli Efti: Hey everybody. This is Steli Efti.


Hiten Shah: And this is Hiten Shah.


Steli Efti: And in today’s episode of the Startup Chat, we’re going to talk about how secretive should you really be about your ideas as a founder. And the reason we wanted to record an episode is that one of you, one of the listeners sent us an email and this is a founder that was wondering and worrying about how openly he should share his ideas with potential investors and potential co founders. And I think the heart of the issue was the fear that people could steal his ideas. I thought that, a, it’s funny we’ve never talked about this, at least not in a full episode, but it felt like a prime time kind of a inexperienced founder worry or fear that you and I could quickly dissect and misspell. Let me ask you Hiten, how much should I protect my ideas? How secretive should I be? Should I worry about telling people my brilliant ideas and will they take them, run with them and crush me then.



Hiten Shah: I’m laughing ’cause people are really protective of their ideas, especially if they’re new to having ideas and wanting to execute on those ideas. I think there’s a lot of sayings about this, but ideas are a dime a dozen, execution is all that really matters. And that’s where I will start. And if you’re not worried about your execution, which you shouldn’t be really, if it’s an idea and you want to pursue it, then why would you worry about telling anyone your idea? It’s this thing where it’s almost like if you are new to what I’m going to call turning ideas into execution, then you will totally be very, you’re very likely to be hesitant to share your idea. If you’re not new to it, you just don’t care. You’re just like, “Yeah, it’s an idea and I’m executing towards it and I want the whole world to know.



Steli Efti: Yeah, I was wondering if the episode just started with a question like, when was the last time, because I don’t remember the last time I worried about sharing an idea with anyone with the thought in the back of my mind of, “Oh, if I tell this person this brilliant idea, maybe they take it and run with it and I’ll be lost.” I don’t think, can you remember the last time you worried about sharing an idea from that kind of protective point of view?



Hiten Shah: I can’t.



Steli Efti: I can’t. Yeah, I do believe that, when I think back to kind of the first start ups that I did, like the early days, the way that you phrased it and framed it was great where you said, when you’re new to having ideas and to trying to turn ideas into reality, you probably, because you’ve not had that many, and you don’t quite yet know the value of ideas, you probably overvalue them until you are over protective where you have this fear that this brilliant thing that you thought of is something nobody else thought of. And if you share it, you’re taking a risk that somebody could steal it from you. And it seems to me that we’ve gone through a trend where there was a time, I think 15 years ago or so where ideas and the power of ideas was kind of, a lot more glorified in the entrepreneurial community. And I feel like in the last 10 years or so that has been beaten quite a lot and like the value of execution has been a lot of more the forefront founders and investors promoting the value of execution and putting down the value of just a pure idea. Do you think that we’re maybe, kind of tipped the balance, the power of balance here and now we’re not valuing the beauty of ideas enough. Do you think that we are too dismissive of that in any way? How valuable can be a creative ideas in today’s world. And is there any, at any point, at any time and context, does it ever make sense to be a little bit careful and protective What idea you share with whom? Can you think of any scenario like that?



Hiten Shah: Yeah, I mean there’s things where like maybe you’re executing towards something and you have a great idea and you just want to ship it and you’re waiting to let it out in the world. That’s a little bit different. I have a couple of those right now where I’m working and executing and testing and learning and I don’t have any desire to go share it with anybody beyond the team that’s working with it or the few people that are using it. I would say that’s a scenario. I mean both of my primary businesses, I think I’m doing that right now where there are things that are going on that I don’t have a desire to tell anybody, but it’s not out of people not needing … It’s more out of people not needing to know and less out of fear of sharing it, I guess.



Steli Efti: Yeah. I think also there’s a, the more ideas you’ve had, the more ideas other people have shared with you, and the more you see how often times during the execution and the exploration phase, you’re gonna learn that the kernel of your idea might have been good, but it still needs a lot of changing, right? Or adopting.



Hiten Shah: Yeah.



Steli Efti: Or you quickly realize that the idea seemed exciting in your head and maybe even exciting as you were verbalizing it to other people. But once you actually executed it, build it and manifested it in reality, you saw that nobody, didn’t resonate. There was a big flaw in that idea that was hard to spot in your mind, during a conversation. And so you just realized that ideas are a starting point, but they’re almost never the end all. Right? It’s not like if somebody could just copy and paste the idea from your mind, that’s all it takes to succeed. Execution and iteration and improvement and change is really what makes the difference. And so the more experienced you become, the less protective of your ideas you are, and you just share the ideas appropriately with people that can actually morph or form those ideas or help you execute them. Versus sharing ideas to get positive reinforcement to get other people to tell you that they also think your idea is brilliant. That becomes less and less valuable. Which I think in the early days is still a very fun game to play, and exercise to play. You have an idea, you’re all excited about it. Now you want to tell people about it. So they also could tell you how brilliant you are and this will work and be big. And then you overvalue that idea and then start becoming paranoid, I’m like, “Oh maybe, if somebody would only know what I know they could make this huge thing happen.” But you don’t realize that millions of people have ideas, but only very few know how to execute those ideas and change them and morph them into different product market for them, they’ve truly made something valuable in the world. All right. I think that’s it for us and for this topic. Somebody out there has an idea that, if you have an idea, you’re wondering if your idea is in your situation so unique and you’re worried about sharing it with people. You want some trusted sounding boards to give you some feedback on that. Always happy to hear from you. You can send us an email at or H& Besides that, please give us a review and rating on ITunes if you have not yet. And we will hear you very soon.



Hiten Shah: Good luck sharing your ideas. See ya.



Steli Efti: See ya.