Should I keep my app a secret while in development?

I’m developing an app with huge potential. Everyone says this, I know, but let’s assume it’s true in my case. (I have spoken with investors and others who have signed NDAs, and they’ve all been excited and eager to be involved.) But I don’t know that I want to sign away a percentage of my business.
I have design and full stack development experience and am designing and building the entire thing by myself. As I’m sure you can imagine, this is a pretty huge endeavor, but I’m chugging along taking things one step at a time.
Here’s the deal:
1) I am super excited about this concept and have already created some really amazing marketing materials. I want to share my idea with the world on social media, even though development is a still a few months from being complete. Is this a terrible idea? Is someone with more money/time/resources to expend going to come along and swoop up my idea for their own?
2) I have to work to pay the bills, of course, which limits the time I can spend on the app (I’m a freelancer, so I have a fairly flexible schedule, but still only so many hours in a day). If I do go public, should I go for a kickstarter?

I understand it’s probably difficult to give an answer with such little information, but I would really appreciate any advice.
Thanks, everyone, in advance!



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  1. Yes. Stay in stealth mode until you are production ready. Think of ways to drum up interest and organic marketing channels without revealing anything. Increase your SIEM logging and don’t discuss app related information on normal computers. People do steal IP and they will use social media to track you down, including getting access to your gmail account as a Google partner or even Google itself and spin off to create their own company.

  2. Even if they do copy your idea, why would you care? Is your target market so small that there is no place for two, three or ten similar service providers? If that’s the case I would ask myself if I want to get into building something for such a small group. Competition is good especially if you are bringing something new or if you are disrupting an old industry.

    Read The Lean Startup it might help you to relax and focus on building the product without the unnecessary fear. Best of luck.

  3. Absolutely NOT.

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    The only thing you want to keep secret would be a trade secret, i.e. something that’s so novel no one else can reproduce it.

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    From consulting startups and building apps for 5 years, I can tell you the most successful (and often the only successful ones) are the ones that get feedback, build a community around what they’re doing, and keep constant contact with their community members.

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    Anyone can easily ‘steal’ your idea and rebuild what you build, but they CANT steal your community unless you fall behind on conversation with that community.

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    Also – you don’t go to an educated investor with an NDA. My guess is those you’re talking to are friends and family style. VC’s & accredited investors have so many pitches there is no way they would sign an NDA for each one 😀

  4. If I saw an ad for an app but I can’t download it or use it.. well all I can think is that person just spent $0.10 to accomplish fuck-all because I’m not going to remember them in two months.

    Forget about the concept of stealing ideas or swooping it up.. you’ll be either throwing money away on advertising or failing to create a community (because the “product” to rally around doesn’t exist yet.)

    You’re best off creating a community based on your app’s subject matter without “advertising” what the app is or does exactly.

  5. Yes, keep it a secret so when you launch absolutely no one knows about it. Don’t stop there, though. You should continue to keep it a secret for the remainder of the time it’s live from launch to eventual shutdown.

    Nahhh, dude. No one is going to steal your app idea. They might knockoff your working app after it’s gained some traction and proven to be a winning formula, but whatcha gonna do? Can’t patent ideas and concepts, nor would it be worth the lengthy process of filing and waiting for a patent to be granted to do so.

    You’re better off blabbing away. Tell everyone, and maybe after the requisite 8 mentions for a person to retain a new thought they might remember your app and try to find it. Also, pre-launch, you’re going to want to look into that.

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