An NDA, or non-disclosure agreement, is a legal contract between at least two parties that outlines confidential material, knowledge, or information that the parties wish to share with one another for certain purposes, but wish to restrict access to by third parties (from Wikipedia). Or, more simply, it is a document that offers limited protection to your idea. Most often we get clients who would like us to sign an NDA because they do not want to have their idea stolen. If you believe your idea is truly novel, and that it could be easily stolen and implemented by another party, then seek out a lawyer before talking to anybody else. Though we by no means discourage seeking legal counsel before sharing an idea, the truth is that 99.9% of the time this is not necessary. This is simply because the amount of investment in time and money it takes to implement an idea is not worth the risk. There are thousands of start-up companies with great ideas, but the truth is that over 90% of them will fail, and investors don’t want to waste their time knowing this. It’s generally not the idea that gives a product value, it’s the implementation.
People often overlook the importance of the work required to bring a successful product to market when they think to themselves “what a great idea, I wish I had thought of that!”. Take the iPhone by Apple, for instance. It certainly wasn’t the first cell phone to hit the market, and every feature on the phone had been done to some degree by their competitors. The only thing that really made the product successful was huge investment of time that Apple took to perfect the design of the software and hardware. In fact, it’s likely that you could have gone to Samsung or Nokia and told them the specs of the iPhone years in advance, and their imitation products still wouldn’t have been nearly as successful. On the other hand, take a product like Post-its. While 3M wasn’t the first company to create notepads, their non-drying glue was a unique (if accidental) solution. The idea certainly had a need to be kept secret and patented before they attempted to bring it to market, as it would have been incredibly easy to reproduce the product.
In summary, we have no desire to steal your ideas–besides being unethical and going against everything we believe in, it’s just not a risk that is worth our time. That being said, we’d be happy to sign an NDA if it makes you more comfortable : )