One of the most common fears I see among first-time entrepreneurs (or just people with an idea) is that someone is going to steal their idea.
“I’d love to tell you about my idea, will you sign an NDA?”
I'll drop some quick notes below about why I don't think you should ask for one, but if you're interested in understanding why Differential doesn't sign NDA's (short answer: for the same reason VC's don't), go read this, it's probably the best summary I've seen.
Requiring an NDA is counterproductive
While I do understand the impulse, my experience has shown this to be completely counterproductive.
The only way to start to validate (or invalidate) that new idea is to talk to people, a lot of people. Friends, colleagues, potential customers, competitors, etc.
Here at Differential, we’re huge believers in customer development , which you just can’t do without talking to a ton of people.
So what if one of those people steals your idea? Let them!
It's all about execution
Without execution an idea is literally worth nothing, and as it turns out, execution is the hard part (otherwise everyone would pursue their ideas).
If someone takes your idea and out-executes you (I’ve never seen this happen, BTW), that’s on you. Shake their hand and move on to the next idea.
If your idea is really good and unique, you’ll have a bunch of “me too’s” as soon as you launch anyhow, so embrace the competition and use it as motivator to keep working hard.