Hardware Startups: Don't Be Scared, Share!

Mathilde Berchon | EE Times | March 26, 2014

A few days ago, I received an email that was full of mystery. It was short but intriguing. Jonathan, its author, was telling me about a great product he was working on. He needed advice on how to get started and take his prototype to the next stage. He was not actually explaining the idea or the market he wanted to address. We met, and after a few minutes of hesitation he finally told me about his great idea. He said he was scared to talk about it because his idea might get stolen.

I get a lot of these mysterious emails. Fear of getting your product idea stolen is a major concern for most entrepreneurs -- and, I would say, even more for hardware entrepreneurs. There is a belief that as soon you share your idea, someone somewhere will copy it and launch it a few days later.

The fear of being stolen is what stops most hardware entrepreneurs from choosing open-source hardware. Before I show you the benefits of open-source hardware licenses for early-stage startups, I want to emphasize two points:

  1. Your idea is not unique.
  2. If someone wants to steal it, they will.