Hey everybody, It’s Stacie with Pitch Deck Fire and we’re here with another Pitch Hack video of the week. I’m super excited you guys have joined us to help your company shine in an upcoming pitch.
If you haven’t been with us before, we focus on tips and tricks on pitching, pitch decks, investor decks, sales decks, and live presentations. If you are a startup company looking for funding or an established company looking for new customers, or maybe you’re pitching in a pitch competition, or perhaps you’re even an employee at a company at a corporate incubator program. All of you we can help. These videos are going to have information that will be valuable to you.
This Week’s Question
Let’s just launch right into it today. What’s our pitch hack of the week today? How do I Prevent Investors from Stealing My Idea?
Not to Worry
First of all, I don’t think getting your idea stolen is something that you need to worry that much about. I’ll tell you why… Most investors that you will be pitching to, like for example accredited investors, institutionalized investors like venture capital or angel investors that are well-known in the industry – those kinds of investors aren’t there to steal your idea. That’s not what they do. Their job is to find a good deal, with good opportunity to put their money into. To have the experts, the kinds of people running the company, with the idea, the people on the ground to actually take that money and multiply it for them. That’s what they are looking for. They are not looking to find a good idea and go do it themselves. They might have done good business in the past, they may be serial entrepreneurs but generally when they getting to a point where they are investing, that’s what their focus is – on investing in good companies. If you are talking to the right people – people that are established investors or people in the industry – then you’re not really at a big concern.
Talk to Your Lawyer
That said, if you really are concerned about it, there are a couple of ways we can make sure you are protected or at least somewhat protected. I am not a lawyer, so you definitely want to talk to your lawyer about some of the stuff we are talking about here today because whether you are actually covered or not is not something I will be able to tell you about your particular situation. *Disclaimer* Please talk to your lawyer.
What I have seen when we are putting together pitch decks for our clients and in the industry as a whole is a couple of things. Sometimes, I have seen people ask investors to sign an NDA before they give them their pitch or before they give them a version of their pitch that has proprietary information in it. That is one option. I would say it may be hard to convince most investors to sign an NDA agreement before they see your pitch because it’s not really part of their normal processes and again, they are not there to steal your idea. If you think the idea alone is what makes the business successful, then they may not be super excited in investing in you because it is about execution. It’s about going out there in the marketplace, testing it, getting the brand built, doing the things you need to do to make it work. That’s what makes a business successful. The idea is part of it but its only one part of it. If you are focused too much on protecting that idea, you won’t be able to get the insights, the information, the feedback; the things you will need to actually be successful. So, a lot of investors won’t sign an NDA, but it is an option to send one.
Confidential – Do Not Distribute
Another thing I have seen people do, is put a disclaimer in the pitch itself, on the first page or one of the pages near the bottom, they will put a “Confidential – Do Not Distribute”. Those are worth-while doing. It not going to hurt anything to put those in. However, from what I have heard from some of the lawyers I have talked to is that they may not be fully defensible. So, talk to your lawyer but you may be able to protect yourself a little by putting in a disclaimer in the deck itself that you are sending out.
A lot of times, when I am talking about sending a deck, a visual document, that we are using to convey our information to an investor, we have put together a pitch deck and we are sending that out. So when I am saying put a disclaimer on the slides, that is what I referring to.
Another way that I have seen people protect themselves, to some extent, is to make it hard to access their pitch. There are some pros and cons with this. One of the ways I have seen people do it, is to host their pitch on a hosting site where there is limited log-in information where you can give a secure log-in link to a potential investor. They will have to navigate to that site, log-in with the appropriate credentials. Some of the value is you can see when they have logged in and how many slides they have looked at, things like that. At the same time, you are adding some cumbersomeness to the process, making it a little bit harder for your investor to go and look at your pitch. They have a lot of pitches to look at and you do not really want any little thing getting in your way of grabbing their attention. I would be wary of having too many loopholes that they have to jump through to see your pitch. But I do see people do that as a way to protect themselves. This will prevent them from handing it around, sending it to friends and maybe getting into the hands of a competitor or something like that.
Hopefully that answers your question on How to Prevent Investors from Stealing Your Idea. It is not something to be super worried about but if you are there are a few ways you can look at to protect yourself. Again, I think the biggest thing to keep in mind is that it is not the idea that makes a company. It is the execution of it. Focus more on how you will execute, what is going to make it different. Really show up, do the work, build the company and you won’t worry as much about someone stealing your idea.
Thanks for joining me today for our Pitch Hack of the Week this week. I hope you found it helpful, I’d love to hear your thoughts. If there are any lawyers or startup lawyers out there, I’d love for you to put your information down below. I bet you people are wanting to talk to you more about how to protect themselves in this case.
Also, if you’d like to give me your ideas on how you’ve dealt with this before or how you’ve prevented things before or even if you’ve seen this happen to someone, where an investor has stolen an idea, I’d love to hear if this has happened and then the story is there for all. Share it down below. I’d love to have an ongoing conversation in our comments here.
We put out new pitch hacks every week. I hope to see you guys here again soon.
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