Probably Not Signing
I won’t go as far as saying that I will never sign another NDA again, but a company or individual is really going to have to pitch me before hand that their idea is revolutionary in five minutes or less to even get me to look at a copy. My previous stance on the issue of reading and signing of NDAs was I really didn’t care. I felt as long as it didn’t prevent me from pursuing my own ideas then it didn’t have a large impact of my professional or personal pursuits. Over the past two years I have signed numerous NDAs and there has only been 1 that actually warranted it. The rest were either average app ideas, or different, not revolutionary, implementations of existing technology workflows or use cases. I am not sure were the genesis of this practice started, but I wish it would stop. Your “social media” app idea isn’t revolutionary or different than a thousand other apps currently in the AppStore or being developed at this exact moment. This doesn’t mean that your idea is bad or you shouldn’t pursue it, but I, as well as a growing number of developers, are not going to be apart of some vague, open ended legal agreement which would prevent me from choosing my own path either professionally or personally.
Intent Vs. Execution
I completely understand why NDAs exist and intellectual property should be protected, however the pattern emerging for how they are applied by every Tom, Dick and Harry startup or recent MBA grad student who has dreams of being the next “insert awesome young CEO here” has got to stop. It is being applied to use cases, mediocre intellect at best and workflow too often and for the wrong reasons. If you hand me a piece of paper right when I walk into the door to sign before any discussions have begun then the potential relationship has already gotten off the wrong foot. By signing I am legally guaranteeing you that I won’t even have a late night thought about your product with someone close-by without fear of retribution from some overzealous law firm, but yet you give me no guarantee that your app is any good or that I would have a long term and equally beneficial compensation if I were hired. At the end of the initial meeting we could part ways and never talk again, but I am still bound by your NDA. Not cool. Wrong execution.
Honesty is the Best Policy
When deciding on whether or not you should ask someone to sign an NDA you have to brutally honest with yourself about what you are trying achieve and why your idea, product or service warrants such a code of silence and secrecy. I know many potential entrepreneurs over the years who continue to talk about their great idea in vague vignettes, but have yet to be able to execute anything because their NDAs have turned into this mountainous barrier. No one in their right mind would sign them. The truth is most people who are brought on to build or market your idea aren’t interested in stealing that idea for themselves…they are interested in working with a great team on a great product.
Can you handle the truth in order to see your idea materialize?