You have to share your IP and idea to get people engaged but there is also the risk that by doing that someone may be connected to competitors (its a small world) and use the information to their advantage and harm your start-up? Any ideas on how to engage the right people without giving away the IP??
There is a risk. At some point, you have to trust that the people you surround yourself with will not take your IP to a competitor.
I doubt you will blindly add folks to your team without establishing a relationship with them first. This relationship is the basis upon which the trust is built.
Further, you can explain a concept and your idea without giving away the "secret sauce".
I've seen this exact scenario play out over and over (and over and over) -- the fear of taking the leap ultimately keeps founders from ever taking action. Years later, they are still afraid their idea will be stolen. Meanwhile, the market has shifted, someone else has come up with the idea, and that fear has stalled them.
Unless you have developed the magic potion for creating world peace, you have a limited amount of time before someone else conjures the same idea (or at least close enough).
Get out there and make your idea worth something -- until you do, your idea has zero value.
There is always a risk that information being disclosed, will be used in an unintended way as soon as it is shared with others however, by the time you start sharing your IP and ideas with the outside world you should have taken the possible steps to protect it.
These are different for each idea and project but of course, the most obvious one is patenting, copyrighting or trade marking the idea. This will allow you to have third party confirmation that you “own” the rights to this innovative idea and defend yourself against a newly inspired would-be competitor.
There are also ways to compartmentalize what you share with people so you are not sharing everything at once with all potential business partners. This will allow you to get people engaged without giving away the secret recipe at the first meeting. A unique idea can always be presented at a high level without disclosing the inner workings of the processes behind it.
Most importantly having confidence in the fact that you and your team is the best people to bring this idea to life will help in any interaction you have with potential partners. If you approach people with doubts in your head that this idea can easily be stolen (asking for NDAs, being all secretive, etc.), you are going to going to have a different conversation than if you approached them with confidence that even if you share your idea, you are the best person to develop it.
So in a quick summary, protect the IP, share the high-level summary first and make sure that the best person to execute it is you/your team.
At some point you have to realize that your idea is just an idea and not a business. You have to realize that an idea is only as good as the person who executes it.
The most successful startup entrepreneurs are at every pitch competition they can get their hands on, giving away their exact business model. This is because they know that no one is going to execute their idea. Thousands of people will tell you it's a great idea, but rarely do people ever execute on "stealing" it.
Let me know if you want me to expand. Just message me.