A friend expressed sorrow, the other day, that they had revealed their "idea" at a Hackathon. Now, it was in the public domain. Now the idea was available for anyone to steal.
This was the common, conventional Whiz-Dumb, back ten years ago.
But it's very wrong-headed. It's an outdated way of thinking.
Ideas are easy to generate. They're a dime a dozen. Some are good, some are bad, most are in-between. But none will generate a successful company without an enormous investment of sweat equity. And it's unlikely that anyone is going to invest that amount of work into something that they are not passionate about.
Now, in my experience, the people who pitch their ideas at Hackathons, or for that matter anywhere, lack sufficient passionate commitment to their own ideas! How easily they give them up. I'm not talking about tweaking them. I'm not talking about pivoting into a slightly different market. I'm talking about completely abandoning one idea in favor of another. This may not, necessarily, be a bad thing, if the idea was not good enough. But it clearly shows that a single-minded commitment to make something, and make it work is a rare commodity! And if even the originator scarcely has it, how likely is it that someone else will steal it?
That's why "stealth" is a thing of the past.
If you want your idea to succeed, you're going to have to get your idea out there in front of lots and lots of people. The more you hide it away, the less likely you are to engage others in your behalf to help further your idea. Especially in todays tight capital market, where most startups need to be "lean," you're going to need to count on the sweat-equity factor to protect your idea.
You're going to have to accept that others know about your idea, but that they are unlikely to invest their lives in stealing it away from you, because they have cool ideas of their own!
So, stick to your idea (assuming you believe it's good), and prove it out by getting it in front of as many people as you can. If you're lucky, you'll excite enough passion in a few that they will join you and together you can invest your life-blood in making your idea a reality!