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Worried someone will steal your app idea? Read this.

I just got this email from Ashleigh that says:

“Hi Ben,

I want to thank you for your post, as it has brought a lot of clarity to my process. I have a very simple idea, pictures and information is the basic structure of the app, but my question is, how to you ensure that a freelancer doesn’t take your idea? Sorry if you have posted about this already. I appreciate your time and you willingness to help out.


The Big Steal

Almost everyone has seen the Social Network movie or at least heard about the early days of Facebook.

The hulking Winkelvoss twins supposedly hired Mark Zuckerberg to build them a website and he turned around and create TheFacebook.com

They accused him of stealing their idea and subsequently sued him.

Why you shouldn’t worry about it

If you have an idea for an app, chances are you’re scared to tell other people and even your friends about it because you’re afraid they might “steal it.”

Despite the paranoia created around the Facebook story, I’d encourage you to fight this urge to hold your idea closely to your chest.

The chances are so, so slim that someone is going to drop their lives, spend countless hours and decent money on a project just because they heard you briefly mention it.

Reduce the likelihood your developer will steal your idea

Maybe you’re scared about telling your developer about your idea because you think they’ll steal it.

That’s why I recommend using one of the marketplace sites to hire a developer.

Sites like:

Because their livelihoods are based on their profiles on these sites and getting good reviews.  It’s like Amazon for developers and designers.

Obviously if they steal someone’s idea they aren’t going to get a very positive review. This would make it almost impossible for them to land another gig.

Want to skip the process of finding a trustworthy developer? Click this button and I’ll email you my developer’s contact info:


What about NDAs?

One question I see pop up far to often is if you should have your developer sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement or “NDA”. An NDA is a legal document that allows you to share your idea with a developer which then prevents them from sharing your idea, selling the idea or pursuing it themselves.

You should do whatever you are most comfortable with but overall I think NDAs are just a self-imposed roadblock people put in the process to slow things down and ultimately don’t even matter.

An NDA might make you feel more comfortable but are irrelevant for 3 reasons:

1.) If you’re hiring a more affordable developer, chances are they live in a different country than you do. Which means having them sign an NDA is basically useless because it probably won’t apply in that country.

2.) If you try to hire a rockstar developer in your own country and ask them to sign an NDA, they will probably refuse. Most top-tier developers just don’t sign NDAs because it limits their ability to work on projects in the future. Think about it from their perspective. You’re an in-demand developer for client work and you work on your own projects. If you sign an NDA for some prospective client and their idea is somewhat similar to an idea you already had and were thinking of pursuing, then they’re screwed and can’t do it anymore.

3.) Let’s pretend you had your developer sign an NDA and they ‘steal’ your idea. Are you really going to get into a multi year legal battle over it and throw away tens of thousands of dollars?

Probably not.. So skip the NDA for now and move past your fear of your idea being stolen.

2 comments… add one

  • Nina

    Hey! Thanks for all of your help. I went from reading one article from a man that said we should run “far away” from the idea of developing an app without a tech background, to your articles that actually gave me hope. I’m so glad I found your information. You are really helping out a lot of people.

    Just curious, when did you post this? And your “How to Create your app with $250 and no coding skills” article?

    Thanks again!

  • aj

    I liked your story about $250! I am curious, what was the $250 for? The developer? or Apple?
    I also like the Stolen NDA story too….
    I am a retired Engineer and I looked into getting an App done, heard it could cost about $5 to 8 GRAND! holy crap, I was thinking about giving the APP away! YIKES!
    I heard that C++ was a way I could get my APP started so I learned C++. WRONG ! after a month of learning C++ and completed the Program I heard that APPs don’t use C++! crap!
    So I downloaded Android Studio! Then JAVA Studio and some add on! and TRIED to learn Android studio! I would rather go to the dentist.
    Anyway now I’m think about MY APP? A simple app! What I think should be simple is turning to a major production! 25 to 30 questions! 0 to 5 and 0 to 10 answers and a total! — HOW much could I charge? $5 buck? 10 bucks? AND who would buy it? NOBODY? anybody?

    I’ll look into your recommendations! Just when did you use these? ONE can never tell when cruising the WEB! (dates–comments all need DATES)

    thank for listening

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