I am starting a small business (small for now) focused on the music education and music production industry. My idea is pragmatic, practical, and no one else is doing it. Unfortunately it's not patentable. My strategy is to eventually accelerate the business when I am able to.

With that in mind, I met the CTO of large, international, music technology company at a conference. I mentioned my idea. He liked it and said he'd be willing to discuss it further.

My question: how should I go about discussing my business with this large company while protecting myself? Would it be through an NDA? I've already discussed the business broadly. Nothing is patentable anyway.

Part of me thinks I should present to them a thorough presentation of the entire concept and see if they'd like to work with me on it. However a part of thinks I should keep the project close to my vest until I have it fully developed and functional for a period of time.

My concern is, if I wait until the entire business is running this CTO may lose interest in talking to me. I don't want to wait 2-3 months to discuss my business with him.

Suggestions?
 
I'd go for openness and position yourself to be the person who works with them on it. Make it clear you're pursuing this one way or another and working with them on it (leveraging their resources) would be great. Ultimately it's pretty hard for these people to get thing done in large orgs and they love working with passionate entrepreneurs who will own and drive an initiative.

Also, if nobody else is doing it (yet) then that is often a red flag that there may be reasons why (to paraphrase Paul Graham: the only way to stop people from copying your ideas is to have bad ones). Most concepts die from suicide not homicide from competition. I'd give them most of your idea and then what would make more sense for them - to do it internally and try to convince a salaried employee to care as much as you (not possible) or to work with someone who already has the drive to make it happen and is working on it in their free (unsalaried) time?
 
I'd go for openness and position yourself to be the person who works with them on it. Make it clear you're pursuing this one way or another and working with them on it (leveraging their resources) would be great. Ultimately it's pretty hard for these people to get thing done in large orgs and they love working with passionate entrepreneurs who will own and drive an initiative.

Also, if nobody else is doing it (yet) then that is often a red flag that there may be reasons why (to paraphrase Paul Graham: the only way to stop people from copying your ideas is to have bad ones). Most concepts die from suicide not homicide from competition. I'd give them most of your idea and then what would make more sense for them - to do it internally and try to convince a salaried employee to care as much as you (not possible) or to work with someone who already has the drive to make it happen and is working on it in their free (unsalaried) time?

I really appreciate your perspective on this. I will definitely talk to them openly about how I'd like their resources to get this off the ground.

Regarding "no one else doing this", I misspoke. My business model is actually commonplace. It's the marketplace I'm targeting that is currently not addressed. I would be the first to take this model into my particular market.

I'm thinking I should build most of my service (it's a website and luckily I'm a web developer and designer). Then I should appeal to this company and see if my early website will convince them on the potential. The key thing is that I don't want to wait a few months until things really ramp up before I talk to them more thoroughly.

So do you think I should not worry too much about the whole NDA thing? I'd rather not deal with it personally but maybe as long as I build the site first maybe I can worry less.
 
@estevancarlos, If the concept is unique, first thing i would have done is go and patent the whole concept including the user interfaces of your web and TM the logo. This is one of the first very basic step you do along with your registered company. This should protect your interest.

NDA is good after the above where in you mention the partnership , association terms with commercial.

Best wishes and keep us informed how it all goes.
 
I really appreciate your perspective on this. I will definitely talk to them openly about how I'd like their resources to get this off the ground.

Regarding "no one else doing this", I misspoke. My business model is actually commonplace. It's the marketplace I'm targeting that is currently not addressed. I would be the first to take this model into my particular market.

I'm thinking I should build most of my service (it's a website and luckily I'm a web developer and designer). Then I should appeal to this company and see if my early website will convince them on the potential. The key thing is that I don't want to wait a few months until things really ramp up before I talk to them more thoroughly.

So do you think I should not worry too much about the whole NDA thing? I'd rather not deal with it personally but maybe as long as I build the site first maybe I can worry less.

If you can create some sort of an MVP that shows what your project is capable of then I would think that's your best bet. Especially if it's something you can design and develop yourself! That positions you as the go-to person to work with on this and if the idea is sound then people should still be interested.

Maybe you can reach out to the company and explain to them that you're working on a prototype and ask if they'd be interested in getting together in a few months to see what you have.
 
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