“This idea is priceless, if the chinese guys would find out about this, they would copy it this second!” I have heard this exact sentence several times during my job. Interestingly it always came from people who have absolutely no experience in the StartUp business. Therefore I would like to bust the myth of the evil chinese copy cats.
Successful copy cats never steal ideas, they steal concepts. This means not only the idea behind the product but also the production routines, logistics, marketing, sales and most importantly: A proven business model. Successful copy cats don’t steal your idea unless you have already successfully launched your product on the market. This is due to the fact that copy cats are good at two things: Optimization and marketing. These two have in common that they work best if powered by a large production and an even larger amount of money. And because copy cats are no VCs and therefore not sitting on large amounts of risk capital, they have a natural risk aversion. They won’t lift a finger unless your business is up and running. If you are worried about your product idea getting stolen, try to concentrate on building a unique brand. Nobody will be able to steal your brand. Brands are what separates mediocrity from success.
I would like to add that China's investment in corporate innovation will be 200% above the OECD-average until 2020. Therefore it will be faster and more efficient for a chinese corporation to develop ideas by themselves than to search and recreate existing ideas.
An exception to this rule is corporate technology. Replicating a secret and unproven patent by Audi seems like a no-brainer to print money. This is because copy cats are handling complexity like every other human: By relying on brands. Because Audi has proven it’s abilities to create saleable products, it is very likely that this new technology will also be saleable. But unless you have an international brand with a reputation for solid products, this will not affect you.
That being said, I would like to return to our main statement “This idea is priceless.” If your going to conduct logic, it is deductable that your idea is therefore worthless. And because things of no worth can be shared without losing anything, sharing will be your best bet. Try to tell your idea to as many people as possible and get feedback. Ask the magic question: “Would you pay for this?” Most ideas fail due to the fact that no one will actually spend money on the product.
I would like to close with a common recipe: “10 Inspiration, 90% Transpiration”. This is what makes you a successful business owner. And a copy cat will always be in the exact same position. The lion’s share is to get from the idea to actual turnover. But copy cats lack an important and unique factor of your idea: your belief and sacrifice for the idea. This is why you will be always ahead of copy cats.