To stealth or not to stealth
04 Nov '12 Posted by Sergio Pozo Hidalgo
In every start-up, as a CEO, you are continuously deciding about different things. Today I must face a decision regarding whether we should continue in stealth mode or exit it now. Eh, yes, we have a blog, we have a social media strategy, we have LinkedIN profiles, we have appeared several times in the press, we have won several contests... are we really in stealth mode? Is stealth mode of real interest for a high-tech startup?
Well, I have read lots of things about the strategy behind stealth mode and I think that all opinions are right and wrong at the same time. It just depends on your focus and objectives at different steps of the business development. At this time I am a firm believer in the value of stealth mode if used properly. Many people think that running stealth is like signing an NDA with everyone you talk to, or better to not talk to anyone. Obviously, this is not the stealth mode we're running. Better think about which are your objectives with the business and if the selective disclosing of things about your business or product can help or not. For example, there are markets where arriving first is a must, and there are other markets where arriving the last one is better (think about Google). If you are in the first case, probably your product is not innovative and not well differentiated, and the contrary if you are in the second case.
In Intelliment Security we feel comfortable telling anyone interested in our business who we are and what we are doing, even without signing an NDA (of course we have sued several patents about our technology). However, we are not going to disclose it to the whole world (just because the whole world is so large that someone may not be interested at all ;) Of course, this has advantages and drawbacks. For us this strategy just worked fine during the last year and is going to serve us well for at least several more months. As our needs change, we will tune this strategy.