“An idea is not enough … You have to go create something … Make it great … and build up an audience.” Evan Carmichael, Entrepreneur, speaker, and blogger at www.evancarmichael.com
Most of us, during the course of our daily lives, have conceived the next killer (smartphone) app. However, most of us have never taken it any further. The lack of time, motivation, money, and skills especially computer coding tend to keep us from pursuing these business opportunities. But above and beyond these obstacles, the fear, risk and potential embarrassment of a competitor taking your idea, developing it better than you can and making all the money looms large. Large companies including Google, Apple, Samsung and Microsoft that have nearly infinite resources and capabilities come quickly to mind.
I found myself in this situation AGAIN only yesterday. Having spent the majority of my career in biotech and related life sciences where having just one or a few patents is critical to success, I am strongly biased to the “no patent = no opportunity” camp. Since I knew that apps are notoriously difficult to patent on the grounds of novelty and obviousness, I was ready to move on. Just before giving up, I googled ‘How do you protect an app from competition” and received 50 million hits. I started scanning through the first 20 or so for something new. They generally addressed the various, standard forms of intellectual property that are summarized in the attached table. Some also went on to discuss the importance of putting non-disclosure agreements in place before sharing your ideas with others, especially capable developers.
Then I came across a 4’ YouTube video by Evan Carmichael entitled “Stolen Ideas - How to prevent big companies from stealing your idea.” This is a video that I highly recommend (and I am still exploring much of the other fantastic material on his website: www.evancarmichael.com). As summarized in the opening quote, Evan states in a most convincing manner that unless you can patent your idea, as is possible in the life sciences and engineering fields, “an idea is not enough.” He goes on to advise that you must create something special and great on your way to “building an audience”, creating a market and attracting paying customers. This is consistent with the opinions of Peter Drucker and Milan Kundera which can be summarized as stating that: business has only two functions innovation and marketing.
Evan goes on to say that by doing these two things well - innovating and marketing, that there will be potential competitors that would rather buy your app (or possibly partner with you) as these routes are quicker and cheaper on both the technology and market development fronts.
I would go on to say that as long as you are addressing a potentially large market with a great implementation; if and when a competitor arises that takes up and adapts your ideas on their own; that there will always be other firms interested in working with you to quickly position themselves for a share of this valuable market.
With this in mind, I plan to carry out some due diligence on my current killer app idea. This will initially involve, in order:
“How Do I Protect my App from Competition” by Duncan Jones,Hexagon Innovating (2016) is licensed under CC BY-NC 4.0.