After two years of development, our start-up is pre-beta and in an incubator. We have the chance to pitch on This Week in Startups, but I am concerned about too much publicity from potential competition prior to establishing traction. This opportunity probably won't be available to us when we're ready.
If you don't follow the show, it is downloaded by over 100,000 industry insiders many of whom might be looking for new ideas rather than become potential customers.
Eric Ries would say don't go on, my ego and passion for our business says otherwise. I'm stuck.
To pitch of not to pitch?
I wouldn't worry about someone stealing your idea.
If you have worked 2 years on the execution you would be 2 years ahead of any competition.
What I would worry about are those things:
If you indeed think it will contribute to more customers/clients then by all means focus on getting them as early as possible and forge ahead. Don't think you will get swamped by demand just because you get public, though. Instead, what might happen is that you don't see enough attention and get discouraged.
Bottom line: If you really think you will lose customers because you don't go public - then do it! Otherwise keep focused on getting customers and executing instead of distracting yourself.
Your competition is not the problem. No one will drop everything they are doing and decide to copy you.
Also, don't expect too much from TWIST. But it's an opportunity, and not grabing it is a huge mistake. It won't come back. A couple of years ago, I had a national TV show (think CBS 60 minutes) who wanted to meet an entrepreneur. That was an opportunity to reach millions of users. Amazingly, a lot of the entrepreneurs I asked decided to pass, because they weren't ready, or later would be better. That opportunity never came back.
I organized a TWIST episode in Sri Lanka and I had the same problem over and over again! It was just technically impossible to get some to understand that no one is going to drop everything they are doing and start working on your idea. Even if someone were to copy what you are doing, they would need to see traction anyway and most likely what will happen is, if you have traction, you will get an offer!
Showing an audience an idea in an unfinished website may not be a big risk.
There are likely to be many future developments that only exist in the minds of the founders.
Furthermore, there are many developments that can only evolve from a certain set of initial conditions that are unique to your website. These are only likely to be released to the public progressively once the website is launched and people start using it.
A website is a complex beast.
I don't think there are many websites around with one single feature that can make or break them (if copied by someone else). If you do have such a feature then I would consider applying for a provisional patent.
Many things in your question and comments here sound concerning. You have developed a product for 2 years and it's not even in beta yet? What is pre-beta? It sounds like you are way too scared to show anyone your product or let anyone use it. Don't be the best kept secret, get it out there and see what happens. If you live in fear of someone copying you, you will never succeed.