After years of dwelling on what makes a venture work, I've decided it's work that makes it work. Ideas are cheap. Work is expensive and hard. If you can put in enough work, you'll figure out a way to make it work.
Don't get me wrong. I love ideas. I'm very much an idea guy. I love what Richard Branson said about ideas in a recent blog post, and how Jason Silva ignites so much excitement about the power of ideas.
Ideas are essential, but they're only a start.
I was asked by a friend to evaluate his business idea. He emailed an outline of what he hoped to create and crowdfund. He wanted me to be quiet about the idea, and was clearly very protective. I've been there myself, wanting to preserve my idea by being careful with it. But I've learned that doesn't work. Isolated ideas die. Ideas that spread win.
I've copied my response below.
Hey man, this is a great idea. I'm confident this could be developed into a fantastic product, could find a lot of money through crowdfunding, and could launch an awesome company.
But ideas are just a starting point, the first step on a long journey. The execution will require a lot of development and collaboration between specialists focused on refining this concept into a tangible product. It'll take significant sums of money to even bring it to the point where crowdfunding is possible. Setting up manufacturing and managing logistics is it's own enormous task. And then communicating that idea clearly to consumers and investors is another task altogether, both in crafting the message and pushing the message out through various channels.
Ideas can happen in an instant, and can pass just as quickly. The value of a product is created over years of work and investment.
It may seem like you don't have the connections to create a product like this, but I'm confident those connections are available to you. It's never been easier to get something designed and manufactured than it is today. Use Upwork to hire a freelancer. Find somebody with a 3D printer to help you prototype the basic form of the product. Validate your ideas by talking to potential customers (even friends, as long as they're going to be perfectly honest with you). Read "The Lean Startup". I could recommend a lot more books on the subject of starting a new venture. Find entrepreneurship meetups. Go to a Startup Weekend, not to develop your product, but to learn what it takes to make ideas into products. You'll meet some great people at an event like that too, people who might share your vision and believe in your product. And they'll have some of the myriad skills necessary to bring it to life.
I have a piece of consumer tech that I've been pondering on for literally years. I keep expecting somebody else to develop the thing and bring it to market, but nobody has. It's not even a secret, I've talked to other people who have had the exact same idea. Lots of people have had this idea. But nobody has put in the years of work and research necessary to take it from idea to product available on store shelves. Not even me (so far).
Don't be protective of your ideas. Ideas are common (even good ones). Your idea is a really good one, but nobody is going to steal it, because what they'd be stealing is a mountain of work and risk. And if they're willing to put in all that work and risk, enough to bring this little idea to life, then frankly they deserve all the reward.
But nobody will. Because they have their own precious ideas that they'd rather work on.
I'd actually advise you to do the opposite of protecting your idea. Talk about it a lot. Talk about it with everybody. It stands a much better chance of becoming a reality. You'll never know if you meet the perfect partner for design or marketing or engineering or distribution if you never talk about it. Tell the whole world what you want to do, and tell them that you're looking for partners to join you for the ride.
This is probably much more advice, and maybe totally different advice, than you were expecting. But I think it's the right advice. Best wishes.