Submitting a plan to the SVBPC involves the disclosure of information. While some
advisors, mentors, and judges will sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), most will
not, because signing a NDA could hamper their ability to invest in a variety of businesses
in the same industry and could possibly create false expectations for the SVBPC participants.
The advisors, mentors, and judges will be careful about using information obtained
over the course of the SVBPC since misuse of the information could tarnish their professional
reputations, but they are still not likely to sign a NDA. There is no requirement
by the SVBPC organizers that anyone sign a NDA.
Participants should keep in mind the distinction between problems and solutions. For
example, new technology is typically a solution to a problem.
If a participant does not want to reveal the problem his or her team proposes to solve,
that perhaps is being too restrictive. If no one knows that the problem exists, then
there will be little interest in the proposed new venture. Thus when communicating
in broad terms or in initial discussions, discussing the topic area and the problem
that business plan addresses should not be considered disclosure of proprietary information.
What is unique is the solution (Value Proposition) a team offers, and we do suggest
that participants take care in when discussing their unique solutions to problems
that might be well known.
SVBPC participants are cautioned about including too much detailed proprietary information
in their submissions. A balance should be found so that the appropriate amount of
information is provided that creates excitement about the innovative idea and differentiates
it from the competition without revealing too much proprietary information.
If a participating team feels that disclosure is a significant problem, a discussion
with the SVBPC Director is encouraged so that a solution agreeable to all concerned
can be obtained.