Why Non-Competes are not allowed at 8150 meetings

As is only natural. Pseudo concerns about contracts end up in my corner. Something to do with being a former practicing lawyer I presume. 

Forgive the rant below, this happens to be an issue that I’m passionate about and requires some explanation as to why the typical way of doing things is not good, right, effective, or appropriate. 

Occasionally people ask about non-competes and non-disclosure agreements, usually before a 777 pitch. 

Short Answer: No we will not allow and non-compete at an 8150 hosted event – ever. 

Long Answer: 

1) NDAs are directly against our culture at 8150 which puts inclusiveness, collaboration, and community first; 

2) Non-competes are almost completely unenforceable, by function of Colorado State Law, and even harder to enforce for someone who is not an executive member of an organization. In my experience 90% of non-competes are not valid contracts;

3) They stifle innovation (see Brad Feld’s Startup Communities somewhere in chapter 4); 

4) There are integrity issues involved with seeing an idea and “stealing it.” The result would be social exclusion from our community. While this is not legal recourse, I’ve consistently been surprised by how effective the social structure of entrepreneurship works;

5) [Perceived] competitors are usually too busy to steal ideas and frequently want to work together. Both competitive startups and established businesses are usually doing everything they can to launch or fix their product and then gain clients based on what they are currently doing. It is unlikely they have the 1) assets, 2) resources, or 3) desire to expand in a new way (they need all three). I shit you not this happens way more than you would expect. (See: the book “Zero to One” – PayPal was created when Peter Theil and Elon Musk had lunch together even though they were both on the verge of launching essentially the same product);

6) Generally the best thing for a company is for the word to get out, even pre-launch when you are vulnerable, having a group free to discuss with their network is incredibly helpful;

7) If people sign enough NDAs they will be prevented from talking about anything. What if you pitch a social network for Rock Climbers idea to me and I sign an NDA before hand. Then in 18 months someone pitches a social network for Hummel Doll collectors to me. Am I prevented from talking about when I know about social networks to the Hummel Doll collectors because I have an NDA for social networking?

8) Entrepreneurial activities normally work too fast for NDAs to stay relevant. Your idea is as good as it is before it launches, that is when you get real market data and start making changes and pivots.  

9) It is execution that is the differentiator, not the idea. If you can make it work then it doesn’t matter how hard someone tries to steal or replicate, you will simply crush them. If you can not then you will fail quickly. 

I could go on. In the end it is your call. 

But hey, what do I know?

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