Competition should not stop entrepreneurs from sharing valuable information

- October 14, 2013 3 MIN READ

I recently had a conversation with Joao Romão, a Portuguese entrepreneur and Founder of Wishareit about investment activity in Portugal. Following the chat, he emailed me his personal spreadsheet listing ‘who is who’ in the Portuguese startup investment community along with his personal notes.

After emailing him back with a big thank you – as his spreadsheet contained plenty of valuable information – I couldn’t stop thinking, ‘what the hell, why is he not being protective about his stuff?”

Romão is not new to the Portuguese startup scene; and it seems that he believes valuable information is better shared than filed away on a personal computer.

I also came across an article recently on BRW about Adam Posine, Co-Founder of Yammer; and somewhere down the page, he is quoted communicating the same sharing philosophy that’s embraced in Silicon Valley. He said, “We share ideas, and the spirit of collaboration has really fuelled our collective knowledge”.

This all sounds quite obvious, and most entrepreneurs I know will raise their hands up in the air, me included, to confirm that they obey by the same principle. ‘I give back to the community all the time,’ is what we often say, but do we really? Are we generous and willing to share the sensitive information we possess? The information that took many long hours or even years to assemble?

We all share. Facebook likes and Twitter retweets propagate over the internet with no end in sight. However, precious data that can be put to good use, I find is quite hard to dig up. An extensive list of Portuguese venture investors, for instance, is information that takes time and effort to collate.

Personally, I don’t think everybody in Silicon Valley shares valuable information in the same fashion as Joao Romão. But I do believe that if we could measure and benchmark the number of entrepreneurs that do, I am sure Silicon Valley would come out leading, with a higher percentage of “sharing-valuable-information” attitude.

I have put together the list below to explain why I think sharing valuable information makes us better entrepreneurs. It helps to remind me that I shouldn’t shy away about doing it on regular basics. So here it goes:

1. Sharing valuable information often boomerangs. This means that when you share you are more likely to get precious information in return. I know that for some people this is the main reason why entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley are well versed into sharing everything.

2. Sharing valuable information helps startups become successful quicker and their success is your success too. If, for example, the startup at next desk to you makes a million, their success story will attract more investors, media interest, government grants, foster more entrepreneurs, etc to our startup community. In the end everybody benefits.

3. Sharing valuable information produces a more concise and accurate set of information. By working together we can fill the gaps quicker and easier.

4. Sharing valuable information avoids wasting resources whether it’s time or money. It makes the startup ecosystem more efficient.

5. Sharing valuable information helps prevent the same mistakes being made by different entrepreneurs.

6. Sharing valuable information helps to improve where others have failed. I hear so often about startups that failed, that didn’t get any traction, or the funding they were seeking. Still, these startups had many successes along the way, and was able to collect valuable data. Sharing this information could help fellow entrepreneurs to have a go at their business and potentially make it work.

I suspect I could come up with several more reasons why sharing valuable information is so important, but to make things easier let me ask you one question: Could you please give me a reason not to share valuable information that is not based on selfishness? Or the fear that someone else might get to the top in your place?

At the end of the day it’s not about having access to information, but having the intellect to turn that information into a revenue model. Your success is my success too, we should never forget that.