December 8, 2023

if you tried If you try to get investors to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before pitching, you’ll often be interrupted by things like, “We don’t do that.”

This is sensible in a way: Investors talk to many startups, so signing a non-disclosure agreement could expose them to liability in many ways. For example, an investor might agree not to share anything you disclose, yet they might hear weeks before talking to you that another startup is doing the exact same thing, with the exact same approach. This puts them in an awkward position.

Therefore, this practice is so common that it even becomes a rule.

There are times, though, when you should object to such conventions: when you’re discussing technical details.

If an investor says they don’t sign an NDA, here’s what you should do: Go to the meeting anyway, but move the slide that talks about your technology to another part of the presentation, behind an interstitial slide that says: “Besides that, a non-disclosure agreement is required.”

Your job as a founder is to leverage market size, unique team, and traction to tell a compelling enough story that investors choose to sign a non-disclosure agreement before your next meeting.

Here’s why you might need an NDA