If I build an MVP won't a competitor steal my idea?


While, I feel building an MVP is a good idea because we can get feedback from the customers on what to improve, I have a doubt.

One fear that is stopping me from building an MVP is that if it turns out to be a good idea, then competitors might arise and then build a complete product. Users then might shift to that competitor because our Minimum viable product is lacking a lot of features.

If we get such a problem, it would be very hard to rectify because as a start up we don't have enough resources or team members to turn a minimum viable product into a complete one quickly. In the meantime, larger companies could implement it and our start up might vanish.

Kindly reply to me.

Getting Started MVP

asked Nov 29 '13 at 20:57
Java Technical
152 points

3 Answers


If your future solution for a problem is valid (meaning: the problem exists, and your product solves it) then it's high time to start working on your MVP. But if it is not valid do not invest anything in it.

Having an MVP does not mean that you have to show it to somebody. It means you've invested your time/money to create a version 0.x .

I think you don't need to be afraid of somebody stealing your product because of the following reasons:

  • Later you want sell your product. If you do not spread the word about your product, customers will hardly find it. And in the beginning the number of your customers will be lower than you expect.
  • Your competition have to invest the same amount of time, money and energy to have a similar MVP. Meanwhile you will spend your time on version 2, which will be much better than their MVP.
  • It's easier, and cheaper to buy some shares of your future company now and provide you some useful advice than starting the same from the beginning and making the same mistakes
  • You have also a type of competition who are already "out there", and they are dealing with the very same problem. I think it's better being the first...

I would definitely start to show my product to people. First to 10 people then 20, 40, 80 etc.

I would do it slowly not because somebody will steal my idea, but because the first version will be definitely buggy and/or will missing features. And I don't want to answer to the same bug-report or feature-requests 100 times...

Good luck with your product!

answered Nov 30 '13 at 02:50
69 points
  • Your points are bringing courage for me (+1 for that). But about the second point, more specifically, I have a doubt. If my competitor is going to be an already established company, they might not spend same amount of time because of more people they have. And that timing is going to be a bane for a start up which has less team members. – Java Technical 6 years ago
  • Maybe it is an already established company, and it has more people. But as an established company it had to make profit before they saw your idea, so they have other focus-points (as well).... – Picibucor 6 years ago
  • One point I forgot is: what if my competitor got to know about the information we have collected from our early adopters, i mean if they come to know the problems we had? We had done the entire research, and they just looked into our results and started doing the work? Won't we be at a great disadvantage? – Java Technical 6 years ago
  • Yes, it could happen that you spent more time on experimenting.
    But they have to still build their own product. You are still the first company, that poops into people's mind.
    And it is still better to be the first one, with more experiments to do than being the second/third company, who should "work down" the competitor, wo has a half a year old product... – Picibucor 6 years ago
  • SUPERB! That is good to the ear! +1 picibucor :) – Java Technical 6 years ago


This is a common fear amongst new entrepreneurs (and more experienced ones no doubt). It is the same fear which stops people talking about their idea to anyone for fear of them stealing it.

The truth is most people probably wither don't care or don't understand what you are proposing. Larger companies have plenty of their own issues to solve and solutions to implement without having to steal yours as well. For an example of just how bad they can be at implementing new ideas even when the survival of the company depends on it try reading The Innovators Dilema.

Jason Cohen amongst others talk about this, for example http://blog.asmartbear.com/stealth-mode.html You should build your MVP and talk to your customers. Focus on building what they need to solve their problems and not worry about the competition.

answered Dec 2 '13 at 23:10
133 points


MVP is an iterative product development strategy. Although it is one that makes a lot of sense from a development perspective because you won't be spending time on unnecessary features, it is not the only strategy. One could also consider for example, the complete opposite pole, namely building a Cathedral.

That being said, I believe one doesn't need to make the MVP public. You can build an MVP and approach a carefully selected list of early adopters, who probably will not compete with you, and deploy the MVP to them and collect feedback.

Another important issue is the type of software. If it is a software for IT crowd, it is highly likely that your early adopters have the in-house capability to build a competitor product. If your early adopters are ,say, lawyers, they will rather prefer to benefit from being an early adopter, and they will not immediately consider copying the idea.

answered Nov 29 '13 at 21:40
140 points
  • Your reasons are sounding pretty good. So would you consider me to choose a location to start testing the MVP that is not much like the Silicon valley? – Java Technical 6 years ago
  • You can pick early adopters which would benefit from your MVP but would probably not be interested in competing. Geographic location is IMHO irrelevant for software. – Paul 6 years ago
  • I ain't frightened that the early adopters copy, because my early adopters weren't companies, they are end users instead but the problem here is that if they would pass the word about MVP and if some competitors listen to it. – Java Technical 6 years ago

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