Should Your Startup Operate in Stealth Mode?

How do you envision your startup launch? Will it be a big-time campaign with maximum media coverage? Or, should it be more like firing a spy satellite, allowing you to collect data while staying undetected?

In our previous article, we discussed the ways to bring plan "It's gonna be a blast" into effect. Today, we'll speak of running your business in stealth mode.

While this may seem to contradict the most common idea of a successful launch, there are a thousand and one reasons why this option may be suitable for you.

Hiding your ideas from the all-seeing eyes of competitors

You can't guarantee fair play when millions of dollars are at stake. So, while marketing your new idea you may suddenly find out that all your innovations already belong to one of your competitors.

Avoiding publicity can help you evade the problem of having your ideas stolen.

Take care to sign an NDA with your contractors and keep yourself from discussing your project with the press and industry members, at least until you possess all copyrights and patents to protect your intellectual property.

The first rule of Stealth Business Club: Do not talk about your business. You may have already guessed what the second rule is 😉

It’s not an obstacle for fundraising

You can still search for a sponsor. Tapping a promising idea before everyone else does is a synonym for "Bingo!" for venture capital funds. Financing will also help you reduce the time and resource gap between you and your competitors. However, you’ll need to find a way to present your business that will not do too much harm to your stealthiness.

It gives you time to find your groove

Acting in secrecy may give you more room to solidify a strategy and to add new capabilities, rather than investing in marketing before you are actually ready.

You may even try to test your solution on a small group before launching a massive campaign. Classically, this is not a “Stealth Mode”, but it’s still a good opportunity to test your solution in a live fire situation with a lower risk of being noticed by strong competitors. Introducing your business to a small yet target audience will allow you to detect and fix all the lowlights prior to a “big-bang-launch”.

Should Your Launch in Stealth Mode?

While the stealth approach may offer a slew of benefits, it's not a panacea. The most suitable strategy depends on which industry your business is in.

Stealth Mode is Good if:
  • Your work occurs in an extremely competitive environment.
  • You are working on a niche or innovative product.
  • There is a chance your idea can be stolen or quickly replicated.
Stealth Mode is Not Good if:
  • You offer a product that already exists on the market.

In other words, if you are a tech startup crafting a pioneering technology that is going to disrupt the industry, you may choose to conceal your progress until you're protected from front to back.

In contrast, if your business offers an existing product (or a logical extension of an existing product), then stealth mode is more likely to harm you.

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