Confidentiality and Privacy doctrine for Startup Port.
Startup Port takes questions of confidentiality and privacy very seriously.
Confidentiality, prohibition of competition, respect with regards to intellectual property. Every Team member of Startup Port, its founders and management, as well as the members of the coaching, advisory, mentorship teams, and even interns must abide by the strict rules of confidentiality, amongst others by the rules our Operating Agreement which stipulates:
- The founders, members, staff, advisors, coaches and mentors of Startup Port are bound by a strict obligation of professional secrecy towards third parties concerning their knowledge of their exercised functions.
- Any person implied within this selection, in the research, advisory, mentoring, coaching or the monitoring of a project , commits to not disclose the information about the project, nor for using it in his/her own interest, nor in the interest of a third party without prior, formal, written consent of the candidate or the recipient.
- Your information – documents, conversations and presentation – are treated in strict confidentially. If you receive a fund (a loan or a grant), a press release will be published, including your names, a brief description of your project and your contact information. Any other publication will require your written consent.
Does Startup Port sign confidentiality clauses?
Given the great number of projects Startup Port receives and reviews, it is virtually impossible to set up agreements for every business plan that Startup Port evaluates. In result, Startup Port does not sign any confidentiality clauses and makes no exceptions.
For all questions concerning confidentiality, take into account the following: The protection of your intellectual property is essential for the development of your project. However, in order to succeed you will need to disclose certain information for others (advisors, incubators, accelerators, co-foundries, investors, researchers, analysts, academics, consultants, bankers, etc…) to help you succeed. In these terms you cannot expect everyone to sign an NDA. In our case your success depends on our success, thus your intellectual property is of prime importance to be kept in confidence.
In order to get help and learn more on this subject contact the US patent and trade mark office (www.uspto.gov) or a lawyer’s office specialized in intellectual property.
Here is our logic:
1 – Ideas are a dime a dozen, it is the implementation/execution that is difficult.
2 – We see too many ideas and often there is some overlap. Often the ideas are seen by different people in our platform. Even tracking who has seen what is difficult if not impossible to control.
3 – We work with and invest in only a small percentage of the opportunities we see. Our investment criterion includes way more than just the idea. It includes the team, the probability of success, the terms, synergies with our other companies and the value we can add etc. It is possible we like the idea and will invest in a similar company with a different value proposition.
4 – Besides working with startups we look at thousands of pitch decks and companies. The majority of the ideas aren’t as novel or original as the founders’ think. Signing NDA’s will limit us from listening to pitches from companies in the same category. This is not something we are interested in.
5 – We already working with 100’s of startups (including those made by our partners and operating advisors). Many are bound to have some overlap.
5 – Legal documents cost money and take time (and for people like us who work on the principle of trust-and-respect are a pain). Any legal document needs to go to our lawyers and this only complicates things and costs money!
6 – The best entrepreneur/investor relationships are built on mutual respect and trust.
How to you protect yourself:
1 – Check out the reputation of who your work with. Do not deal with any that you think might be stealing ideas (and we can assure you it would be very few). Do not even approach people you do not trust. And asking people to sign an NDA is a (lack of) trust issue.
2 – Implement well. We want to invest in people and the team, ideas are dime a dozen and an idea does not create revenue by itself!
3 – Develop the idea. A head start (traction) is worth a lot in the technology space.
4 – Protect your trade secrets. Usually we do not need to know the tiniest of details on how you do things. We need a conceptual “sales roadmap” and see how many users will buy your idea/solution! We like companies to have good process around IP. This means having trade secret procedures and patents. There are many ways of protecting your IP by spending very reasonable amount of money, be smart and do it. If you an an IP protection there is no need for an NDA!
5 – Most NDAs don’t hold up in court! No idea is one of a kind and unique! Sad but true! The majority of ideas have been tapped multiple times and most likely are publicly available, if so the NDAs won’t even hold up in court.
Please check the internet on this subject matter to further understand the reasoning behind this. Here is a sample link from Entrepreneur magazine:
Why VCs Don’t Sign NDAs and You Shouldn’t Worry About It http://entm.ag/1IFTKVX via @Entrepreneur