Eric Ries intimated in "Lean Startup" that nobody would steal our ideas, but I have concerns with an external agency or developers having possession of source code that would be the core of our business. Is this an unfounded fear? When funding permits, I would like to explore having an in-house development team, but quality agencies and developers seem to be available to hire in abundance. If my startup is bringing in revenue and profiting, is it unusual to continue a working relationship by outsourcing development to a third party? I'm thinking in the most economical sense, that this is sensible, however there are certainly other concerns to consider.

Considering that you mentioned MVP in the context of Eric Ries work, I will assume that you are not referring to a small version of a big product, and instead to a hypothesis that is presented in the form of a very simple materialisation — sometimes it's even fake.

Therefore, an MVP, as a tool to test hypothesis is probably not the element that holds the value *in it* — it may actually be a gate so that values are stored somewhere else, perhaps on the network and storage side.

In other words, consider that you hire agency AA to make an MVP A and agency BB for an MVP B. I will force this illustrative situation to say that A is a thesis and B is an antithesis. Both MVPs in execution would generate data intelligence to your learning backstage. Thus, if BB decides to clone B they would end up not in a great advantage position. This illustration is to make a case that the intelligence is the backstage, or that it can be placed there.

It should also be reminded that your advantage is strategic and can be fragmented, also in the backstage. In the historical case of Airbnb, they faced a competitor with larger resources (10x $) that claimed they would clone them entirely really fast. Airbnb kept alive due to their stronger community and other core values that were not in any source code.

Of course this whole question makes more sense with more specific context and clarity. Anyway, my case here makes an alignment with what I think is the view presented by Eric, that the "core business" can be in fact more like a core business advantage of leadership. Is the first move to interpret the MVP that makes the team ahead of the game. It's the move of having a great community, for example.

Answered 3 years ago

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