It's a theme we've touched on many times before, but it bears repeating: if you've got a great idea for a web site or application, you'll achieve more by sharing than by trying to "protect" it and keep it private until it's fully developed.Picture by Boundless Creations (one of the ten participants)
Over the weekend, I was on the judging panel for a Microsoft Bizspark Startup Camp event in Sydney. The ten participating teams had two days of training on developing for Windows Phone 7 and Azure, and then two days to develop a prototype business idea and pitch it to the panel of five judges. To break up the intensive development work, participants also attended sessions on business development and presenting.
There were a whole bunch of impressive ideas presented, ranging in readiness from almost-ready-to-launch through to neat concepts that require a bit of refinement. But one clear theme that emerged throughout the event was that sharing ideas was an essential step in both gaining support and in refining the concept. Execution is critical, and your execution can only improve if you share the idea with others.
James McCutcheon from start-up advisory firm noted that with the ease of rolling out a web site or a blog post, you can sample audience reactions to an idea by simply saying you plan to construct it -- a kind of "pretend to build it and see if they come" strategy. If lots of people respond, you know the idea is worthwhile. If they suggest a slightly different idea, that direction might make more sense than your original strategy. And if no-one reacts, it's time to go in search of another idea.